More stakeholders essential to the implementation of the Child Care and Adoption Act and the Juvenile Justice Bill will have the opportunity to learn more about them in the coming months.
According to Acting Director of Social Services Phyllis Dyer, last week’s intense training on the legislation will continue as attendees have the responsibility to share the knowledge with their colleagues.
Ingrid Osborne, the Special Educational Needs Teacher for Brades Primary School told Discover Montserrat that the four days of training has made her more aware of the various aspects of the Child Care and Adoption Act. She added that it was reinforced how important it is to report negative behaviour so children can get help before it escalates. On the Juvenile Justice Bill, Osborne said she now has a better understanding of how and why the court system needs to deal with cases involving children differently than with adults.
The new legislation now identifies children as being 18 and under rather than 16. It also lays out specifics on what must be in place for the Child Justice Bill to be enacted and enforced. Children who are to be detained must be housed separately from adults and also transported separately. A care plan which identifies the needs of each child and what it will take to reintegrate them into society must be administrated.
Trainer and lawyer Jackie Sealy-Burke said that in order to break the cycle so that children do not become repeat offenders there has to be community supervision and a clear strategy for aftercare once they leave a residential facility.
Acting Supervisor of Prison Bennett Kirwan said the training provided much insight into the juvenile process and how it must differ from dealing with adults. He also said there was work to be done to create the systems and facilities to be compliant with the laws.
The Juvenile Justice Bill is still in draft stage but it is intended that it be passed before the end of 2017.
Dyer said quite a bit of work is left to be done and the support structures within the relevant agencies would have to be created. She added that Social Services will continue to train the stakeholders and also sensitize the communities about new legislation. Work has already begun in the Haitian and Spanish communities with the assistance of the Royal Montserrat Police Service.