Justice minister takes initiative to improve child care

April 17, 2020 4:15 am

POND ISLAND -- Minister of Justice, Anna Richardson, on Wednesday, April 15, 2020, took the initiative to hold a virtual meeting with various stakeholders inside and outside the ministry to discuss the issue of child protection as it regards to the foster care service or the Alternative Care System.

The foster care program has changed drastically over the last three years. Since then, there has been a decrease in the number of foster homes currently in operation on the island.

With the sudden closure of two of the three local foster homes, the need for more housing within the Alternative Care System has become a pressing matter. Compounding the issues mentioned above, it was also brought to light that specialized care facilities need to be established for girls and minors with disabilities.

All stakeholders were able to express their professional recommendations based on their organization's findings, assessments, and experience thus far concerning this critical topic. Minister Richardson emphasized the Ministry’s commitment to the representatives of the initiative to move forward. A solid action plan will be established, one that will improve the effectiveness of the Alternative Care System, as part of the broader vision of strengthening the child protection system on St. Maarten and will ultimately ensure the success of every child it serves.

A follow-up meeting has already been scheduled for Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020. In the interim, all parties will share relevant information and documentation with the Minister of Justice to aid as a base to get the project underway.