Padarath: Webster-Roy failed to ensure several children’s homes met deadline

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Padarath: Webster-Roy failed to ensure several children’s homes met deadline

Shadow Minister for Child Affairs, Barry Padarath has raised concern over the fact that many Children’s Homes will miss the deadline to be licensed and no real plan is in place for the children in these homes.

During the 13th meeting of the Joint Select Committee on Human Rights, Equality and Diversity held on March 3rd, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Ayanna Webster-Roy gave a breakdown of several Children’s Homes who are not in a state of readiness with respect to becoming licensed and will not meet the state imposed deadline of March 31st, 2023.

The homes listed were: Jairah House, Raffah House, Lady Hochoy Home, Marian House, St. Mary’s Care Center South, Casa de Corazon Children’s Home, Ferndean’s Place, Cyril Ross Home, St. Jude’s Home and the new transitional home for migrant girls.

According to Webster-Roy, 231 children will be affected by this missed deadline and only 60 of those children have been identified so far to be absorbed into other homes.

Padarath stated: This, after 8 years in office.

The Minister stated it was more of a management problem than a resource problem, even though last month in a newspaper article, it was reported that social workers were complaining of being understaffed and overworked.

Padarath added that this is the same Minister who also told us that all the positions in the Children’s Authority would be filled by the first quarter of this year.

The MP for Princes Town is claiming that a lot of that has not happened, adding that now the Minister has admitted that it is down to her poor management along with the other agencies involved.

The buck stops with the Minister, Padarath said; The Minister is the one who is ultimately responsible for what will happen to these children who are not in a licensed home and cannot be absorbed elsewhere.

The Shadow Minister indicated that Webster-Roy has been there for 8 years and it was her team that set the deadline of March 31st, 2023.

Padarath is suggesting that no mechanisms were in place for constant monitoring and progress tracking to ensure that all these homes were on track to be compliant by March 31st.

The MP also asked about contingency plans – What did the Minister put in place to ensure all children were absorbed?

MP Padarath described the situation as total chaos, total confusion and stated that the Minister is once more passing off the buck and in a state of denial.

Padarath reiterated the point that 8 years later, the Children’s Authority are still saying they are under-resourced and understaffed but today essentially what the Minister has done at the Joint Select Committee is admit to poor management and failure of her division and herself.

He added that Webster-Roy has failed to ensure the homes meet the deadline by using milestones to properly manage their progress on a periodic basis and this will now have an impact on well over 150 children.

Padarath is not buying the new dates of May for some homes and September for others, as he says no real changes have been made in terms of management. Adding that the Minister continued with her same rhetoric of “we are working hard” when pressed by members at the JSC.

Padarath reiterated that it was the Minister who set the deadline, it was the Minister who was responsible to ensure that everything was put in place to achieve her own deadline and it was the Minister who should have had a backup plan to ensure no child is left in limbo should these homes not meet the required standards to operate.

Heads must roll, Padarath stated, adding that the lives of our most vulnerable children cannot be left in hands that are incompetent and incapable of delivering results.