Children’s homes preparing for COVID-19

Originally published by Jamaica Observer on 02/11/2020

Summary

The Jamaican Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) has oversight responsibility for 52 childcare facilities across Jamaica, which is responsible for approximately 4,000 children (~2,000 in homes and ~2,000 in foster care).In preparing for the COVID-19 outbreak, the CPFSA implemented a number of measures to protect children including: • identifying isolation facilities for occupants of childcare facilities; • limiting visitor access to childcare facilities; placing sanitation dispensers in facilities and offices; • arranging for public health nurses to visit facilities and educate children about proper hand-washing and hygiene practices; and • disbursing emergency funds.

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Jamaica: Thirty year-old Grandmas helping to raise child criminals, says Counsellor

Originally published by Stabroek News on 24/05/2020

Summary

Due to the suspension of physical classes and job losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a risk that the number of child offenders will increase.Since March at least 68 children in Jamaica have either been detained or remanded in state care facilities. However, in the Corporate Area courts there were over 100 active children criminal matters.While some matters (e.g., domestic and child-related matters in the specialized Family Courts) have not been suspended, many other children accused of a variety of crimes may be forced to wait until the courts reopen for their hearings.

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UNICEF provides more support for children in State care

Originally published by Jamaica Observer on 20/05/2020

Summary

UNICEF donated $2.4 million worth of sanitising and hygiene supplies to the CPFSA to help protect nearly 1,700 children in 50 residential care facilities against COVID-19.According to a UNICEF Jamaica representative, children in residential care may be in particularly vulnerable situations. As a result, CPFSA and UNICEF are jointly working toward a more family-based care system including the foster care system, which is proven to be more suitable for the development of children compared to residential institutions.

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Prison COVID Worries – Opposition Senator Calls for Release of Low-Risk Detainees

Originally published by The Gleaner on 31/03/2020

Summary

The commissioner of corrections in Jamaica has stated that his team has been preparing for COVID-19 in jails for weeks and has a prevention plan to decrease the risk of spread. This plan includes temporarily suspending all external visits to the facilities operated by the Department of Correctional Services.However, an Opposition Senator is calling for the government to rethink its rejection of the early release of low-risk inmates. On March 13, the Minister without Portfolio said that the Jamaican Government would not be releasing low-risk or short term inmates from correctional and remand centers even if COVID-19 became an issue within prisons.

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Human rights advocates call for release of at-risk detainees amid COVID-19

Originally published by The Gleaner on 29/03/2020

Summary

Advocacy groups and individuals have teamed up and requested that the Government of Jamaica release at-risk groups, including children, from police lock-ups, remand centers and correctional centers to reduce the risk of COVID-19.The advocates are deeply concerned about the safety of detainees because of the conditions of Jamaican detention facilities, which are described as “not fit habitation in normal times” and during COVID-19, “these conditions are imminently life-threatening.”Release of the at-risk groups would arguably not only help the detainees but also those who work in the detention centers and the general public.

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