A number of steps have been taken to address child protection in Barbados as it relates to the Child Care Board (CCB).
They were revealed by Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Steven Blackett, during a press briefing at his office this afternoon.
Mr. Blackett explained that following the recent deaths of children whose cases were before the Child Care Board, and the outcry from Barbadians about the ???alleged poor management of serious child abuse cases by the Child Care Board???, the Board of Management of the Child Care Board and the Commissioner of Police, as well as senior officers, met to outline how the two agencies could work together in the future.
He disclosed that following the meeting, a draft Memorandum of Understanding was developed between the two agencies.
???Child Care Officers are to be trained in investigative interviewing by the Police Department, and police officers are to be trained in the techniques of interviewing children by the professionals at CCB. This training is to be conducted periodically on a collaborative basis with the aim of enhancing the interviewing skills of both groups,??? the Social Care Minister stated.
In addition, he indicated that officers from the Sex Crimes and Trafficking Unit or other assigned police officers would also accompany Child Care Officers when conducting interviews relating to child abuse cases in the future.??The agreement also highlighted that the Child Care Board should report all suspected cases of physical or sexual abuse to the police before the end of the working day.
Mr. Blackett explained that over the years, the Child Care Board had investigated and subsequently moved children into protective agencies, but, except in the case of clear abuse, that was usually not the first option of the Board.?????The general approach has been one of counselling, where there were willing and cooperative parents and guardians, to do all that was possible to keep children in the care of their family members.
???While this may have worked effectively in the past, and through counselling and training, some healing and restoration was brought to many families, it is very clear, as underscored by these recent cases, that societal conditions in Barbados have changed radically and dramatically over the last 10 years, and there is need for the agency to adopt new protocols in handling the investigation of cases of alleged child abuse and neglect,??? he noted.
The Minister said he believed that the new policy should have the Child Care Board focusing on more programming moving ???towards more strategic emphasis on prevention, as opposed to the overwhelming focus on responding to the actual maltreatment of children???.