Twenty million dollars is being spent annually at State-run homes to care for 217 children, with increased funding to be given to private institutions caring for 600 children. This according to Minister of Local Government Marlene Coudray.
Coudray, the former minister of the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development opened the Ste Madeline Male Transition Home yesterday. The current Minister of the Ministry, Clifton De Coteau was absent from the event due to illness.
Coudray read from De Coteau's prepared speech. She said that this facility will provide young men a safe place to live, guidance in realising their purpose and to help them achieve it.
The Transition Home is located on lands formerly belonging to the Usine Ste Madeline Sugar Estate.
The Ste Madeleine Male Transition Home will benefit young men between the ages of 18 years to 24 years who are in the care of the State and have left the guardianship of the Community Residence or Children's Home.
The facility was constructed at a cost of $14 million with ten rooms for the boys inclusive of two rooms on the lower level for boys with disabilities.
Coudray said that 600 boys and girls reside in homes managed by non-governmental agencies and are supported with subventions from the Ministry.
Coudray called for an increase in the amount of money given to these agencies because some were struggling.
According to the Ministry's permanent secretary Sandra Jones an increase in the subvention (a grant of money given from the Government to institutions), and funding is being given to homes nationwide.
She said the State agreed that it “will provide upkeep and maintenance of the residences of children. They agreed to the provision of, based on the cost to upkeep and maintain each child of $2,000 per child per month and an additional sum on the psychosocial needs of the child as advised by the Children's Authority of Trinidad and Tobago and of a maximum of $2,000 provided that those needs cannot be met by the public health care system”.
She said private institutions will receive $2,000 to $4,000 with similar arrangements for children belonging to State-run homes.
Jones said that State homes are given more funding than private facilities as many State-run homes have more staff and has schools at their facility whereas private homes do not have these.
She said that this disbursement of funding will occur for the next fiscal year.
Jones also said that a $250,000 “one-off grant” is being given to community homes to upgrade their facility and meet the necessary requirements.
She said that the Children's Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, “worked out a formula... and Cabinet had agreed that $250,000 was the limit available”, on what the Ministry is terming as a “one-off grant”. Community homes will have to bring the institutions up to standard and receive a license. A total of 14 community homes have been recipients of the one-off grant.
Coudray said that $11.7 million has been given for the restructuring of the Josephine Shaw Hostel to facilitate the provision of transition facilities and services by the Salvation Army.
Rehab centre for children
“A site in Aripo has been secured for those children who have run afoul of the law”, said Coudray. She said that when the facility is completed it will be the first of it's kind for male and female rehabilitation centres designed for children who are in conflict with the law.
Coudray said, “Until these rehabilitation centres are completed, Cabinet has agreed that the St Michael's School for Boys and the St Jude's School for Girls will serve as the interim rehabilitation facilities.
“A Cabinet-appointed committee has been successful in working with the management of the St Jude's School to elevate its standards of care in keeping with the Children's Authority's standards or rehabilitation centres. I am pleased to report that this work has been progressing steadily and out of the 56 standards, 96 per cent have been met and the school is soon to be registered with the authority.
“The same approach will be applied to the revamping of the St Michael's School for Boys.”