Webster eyes beefed up monitoring of child welfare programmes

–will target juvenile begging

The Ministry of Human Services will be moving to improve its monitoring and evaluation of child-welfare programmes to ascertain those that work and make adjustments where necessary, according to newly-appointed Minister, Jennifer Webster.

“Government’s high priority focus will be on improving our systems of monitoring and evaluation,” said Webster who was at the time speaking for the first time in her new capacity at a Child Care and Protection Agency staff conference held at the Duke Lodge Hotel Georgetown yesterday.

“We need to know where we were, where we are, where we are going and whether we are on the right track,” she said. Adding, “The development and strengthening of a monitoring and evaluation framework for child protection in Guyana  will enable better assessment and analysis of how effective our strategies and policies and programmes are in achieving the desired outcome of  protecting the rights of children in our country.”

Jennifer Webster speaking at the conference yesterday. (GINA photo)

It will also serve to assist in the making of sound policy decisions and enhance the ministry’s ability to be accountable.

The minister said that while her ministry recognizes its governmental role in protecting the country’s children, it is only with a collective effort from stakeholders and society that goals set could be achieved. “Child protection cannot be considered the work of a government bureaucracy alone. It is not the responsibility of the Child Care and Protection Agency of the Ministry of Human Services in isolation. The protection of our children concerns all of us. It requires the attention and vigilance of every man, woman and child in society to ensure our children are not mistreated literally or otherwise. There is a role for all stakeholders to play; teachers, sisters, nurses, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends and especially parents must recognize we play critical roles in creating a safe and secure world for our children.”

The ministry will also, in the very near future, be implementing strategies to deal with the growing number of child beggars on the city’s streets.

Webster said she had observed, especially as it nears the Christmas season, that the number of children begging had increased and sometimes they are even accompanied by or have their parents nearby soliciting funds on high traffic streets and in front of grocery stores. “We will have a targeted campaign to get those children off of the street. It is something I don’t want to escalate in our society. I will discuss with Mrs Greene [Director of Child Protection Ann Greene] and have a targeted programme, even if it means that we keep them in our care and custody,” she said.

The minister also committed to making the staff conference an annual one, not only to reflect and analyze the effectiveness of the past year’s programmes but to make futuristic recommendations  aimed at improving the efficiency of the child protection agency. She said that at the end of the conferences, there would be measurable indicators to track progress.

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