Therapeutic centre open at Maxfield Park Children’s home

Screenshot 2023 01 15 At 12.37.24 Pm
Jamaican children. Photo courtesy of the Jamaica Office of the Children Advocate Twitter.

 A $200-million state-of-the-art therapeutic centre, which will cater to the needs of children ages 12-18 in state care, was officially opened at the Maxfield Park Children’s Home in St. Andrew on Thursday (29 June). The Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) Therapeutic Centre, which is the first of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean, was formally handed over by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, during a ceremony at the Home on Maxfield Avenue. The project was managed by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) and financed by the Government of Jamaica and Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) through the institution’s Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF).

According to the media release, the centre will facilitate programmes designed to curtail the cycle of abuse and violence against children. Prime Minister Holness said the overall project will benefit 4,400 youngsters in state care, inclusive of children’s homes and places of safety, as well as those in foster care and family reintegration programmes, and others in need of psychological and mental interventions. Additionally, the Prime Minister said the project will benefit 16,000 children and their families, who will access the services of the CPFSA on an annual basis.

He shared that a 2021 Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) study estimated that only eight per cent of the needs of Jamaican children who are able to access mental health services were being met. He stated that most mental health disorders afflicting adults have their genesis in childhood and adolescence events. “That is something that Jamaicans have not come to terms with. You would be surprised to know the resentment/aggression that is still tied up in our domestic and interpersonal relationships, particularly between parents and their children… relatives, and it consumes us as a society because we haven’t fleshed it out,” Holness said.

There is, currently, no facility for delivering effective screening, assessment and therapeutic treatment for children who are exhibiting behavioural challenges. “Thus, there [is] a gap in the diagnosis of children as the state [is] unable to effectively screen, assess and diagnose [those] children. This therapeutic centre is important. But we have far more to do as a government and as a people, because addressing this serious problem is a matter both for the state and for the people, for the households, for the citizens, for the community groups, [and] for civil society,” he said.

George Yearwood, portfolio manager, BNTF, said the facility, which was undertaken through a collaborative approach, will provide support for thousands of Jamaicans who are in need. He said the partnership represents an investment in the future of children.

The CPFSA staff, including 27 social workers, and 161 caregivers from 48 children’s homes, will be trained in skills to equip them for the workplace.

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