Govt promises residential facility for street children
Friday, July 13th 2007
Government says it will provide a residential facility for street children as part of its efforts to clamp down on the social ill and keep them off the streets.
Cabinet Secretary Dr. Roger Luncheon at a press briefing yesterday made the disclosure and said that the current centre would be rehabilitated and dedicated to housing street children.
However he cautioned that the facility would not be a "forever institution", adding that the focus would be on having the children placed in permanent, appropriate shelters through adoption or putting them in the custody of relatives.
Luncheon told the media too that Cabinet has also provided an additional facility to house those children on remand who were brought before the court for minor criminal offences and whose matters are still to be finalized. "This facility will allow the practice of co-locating those children with adults in detention centres to be abandoned in Guyana," he said.
Meanwhile, Luncheon stated that the facility was being introduced in the context that there is a demand for placement if the move to keep children off the street is to be sustained but cautioned that it would not serve the purpose of an orphanage.
He said that according to his information the current facility now holds about 20 children.
He was asked whether laws regarding children would be used to prosecute parents of street children. In response, Luncheon noted that indeed some parents may be guilty of not fulfilling their lawful obligations but these matters would be approached on a case-by-case basis.
According to him, there has been prosecution in some cases and parents have been making use of the facilities in this regard at the Human Services Ministry.
He reiterated that government was committed to dealing with the issue of street children since the focus on family has been a key aspect of the ruling party’s manifesto.
Welfare officers from the ministry and the Guyana Police Force currently work together to rid the streets of wandering children found each day and the ministry also holds administrative responsibility for temporary shelters for street children.