‘Every Child Matters in the Caribbean’ is a joint initiative between The Victoria Climbié Foundation UK (VCF) and One Step Forward Consultancy (OSFC) – a UK-based social work company.
Every Child Matters is one of the most important policy initiatives and development programmes in relation to children and children’s services of the last decade, and has been described as a ‘sea-change’ to the children and families agenda leading to the UK Children Act 2004.
Commenting on the initiative, VCF Co-Founder and Director, Mor Dioum is delighted to be taking the spirit of every child matters’ to Jamaica. “In OSFC, we have found a partner organisation with whom we can work to ensure that the rights and protection of every child are applied across the Caribbean, and that those with the responsibility to protect these children are fully supported and motivated to achieve their aims.”
Citing the Victoria Climbié tragedy in London in 2000 and Peter Connolly (Baby P) seven years later, OSFC Managing Director, Patricia Mckenzie-Thomas told stakeholders at a media event in March, abuse of children is something that she witnesses each day as a social worker. “There is no distinction of colour, age, culture, class or financial status.”
In the wake of an upsurge in incidents of abuse of children, VCF and OSFC are to stage an International Safeguarding Children Conference in Jamaica during Child Month to formally launch the ‘Every Child Matters in the Caribbean’ initiative.
The conference to be held on 15 May will bring together stakeholders from the UK, the United States and the Caribbean, and is one of several activities planned within the initiative. The event will also be used to promote the Every Child Matters Project Apprenticeship and Scholarship Fund in partnership with local schools.
Former Chief Executive Officer of the Child Development Agency, Carla Edie-Francis expressed her concern that despite the upsurge in incidents of abuse of children, there seemed to be a nonchalant bystander attitude regarding the safeguarding of children.
“In cities, small towns and communities across Jamaica, many people sit in silence, locked behind their grills or barricaded behind their walls while our children suffer in a private hell of abuse, neglect and poverty”.
A recent media report has indicated that over 1500 children have been violently killed in Jamaica since 2001 including more than 15 who were killed since the start of 2015.
Together, with the support of stakeholders from the UK and the Caribbean, we will use the conference as a catalyst for change, through the networking of professionals and delegates such as government agencies involved in child care and protection, social workers, child protection officers, foster carers, independent social workers, teachers, police, youth advisers, project workers, nursery workers, health and legal officers, criminal justice officers and all professionals involved with safeguarding children.
In urging support for the conference, Mrs McKenzie-Thomas said the matter of safeguarding children is still a work in progress for many countries.
“No country has got it right in terms of safeguarding children. Some countries are doing better but some need shared resources and supportive working practices and knowledge as seen in and around the Caribbean. I ask that you help to support us in your attendance at the International Safeguarding Children Conference to start toward making those changes to safeguard children and for us to be more professionally equipped to do so.”
For additional conference details:
See event page https://www.facebook.com/pages/One-Step-Forward-Consultancy/363488533663091?fref=nf&pnref=story
Safeguarding Children Conference UWI 2015