The Ministry of Gender Youth and Child Development issued a statement today in repsonse to claims made in a television talk show by three boys who ran away from the St Michael's Home for Boys on Wednesday. The Ministry stated that the police has been notified and an investigation is underway. The following is the Ministry's statement -
The Ministry of Gender Youth and Child Development has taken immediate action to address three young boys’ complaints of abuse which they claimed to have suffered at the St. Michael’s School for Boys. The boys subsequently ran away from the institution and their story was highlighted on 23 April 2014 on a popular television Talk Show.
On being alerted to the issue, the Ministry contacted the Commissioner of Police who assured that the matter is being investigated. The boys will be placed in another appropriate children’s facility while investigations are ongoing.
Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development, the Honourable Clifton De Coteau has requested a report on the incident from the St. Michael’s School for Boys and the Ministry will be meeting with the Board of Management of the institution.
The Ministry is also continuing its investigations into the circumstances surrounding the recent passing of Brandon Hargreaves who died after a fall at the institution. This investigation will be completed shortly and based on the findings the Ministry will take appropriate action.
Over the past ten months the Ministry has being working with the Boards of the two children’s homes and the two industrial schools under its purview to modernise their care management systems to ensure that they meet the standards set by the Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago. These homes and industrial schools include the St. Mary’s Children’s Home, St. Dominic’s Children’s Home, St. Michael’s School for Boys and St. Jude’s School for Girls.
Actions taken to support the modernisation process include retraining of staff by the Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago and the Ministry, recruitment of persons with the specialised skills and competencies needed by the institutions and the drafting of Memorandums of Agreement between the Ministry and the Boards to ensure accountability and efficiency in the management of these institutions. Change Management Specialists are also currently working in the St. Michael’s Home for Boys and St. Jude’s School for Girls, for protracted periods, focusing on the needs of the children, their caregivers, parents and guardians.
The Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago will be fully operational by September 2014 and will provide the necessary supervision of these institutions. In the interim, the Ministry assures the public that it will be steadfast in its efforts to ensure that the children who reside in the homes and industrial schools receive the required quality standard of care.