“Children have an absolute right to a childhood”

─ President Granger declares at opening of $ 250 million Children and Family Care Centre.

─ child advocacy centre for all capital towns

DPI, Guyana, Thursday, September 26, 2019

President David Granger today said every child in Guyana is entitled to enjoy their childhood, noting that the country’s constitution provides for the protection of all.

The Head of State made the declaration this afternoon moments before he officially opened the first Children and Family Care Centre, in Sophia Georgetown.

The $250 Million facility is the brainchild of the Ministry of Social Protection and is being dubbed a “safe haven” for vulnerable and at-risk children and their families.

“Every child deserves a happy childhood and we the adults have a collective duty to support children’s enjoyment of that right,” the Head of State said.

Ensuring that right, he said also means allowing children to be in the comfort of their homes and growing up with their own families.

“Children are nurtured best in a home, rather than an institution, even an excellent institution like this. A happy home is essential for children’s development. The family holds the primary responsibility for the protection of their offspring and their upbringing,” President Granger noted.

He underscored the significance of Guyana’s constitution and the provision it makes for the safeguarding of the children.

“We are making progress in ensuring a better future for our children. We are strengthening childcare and protection; we are working to reunite families. We must continue on this path; we must continue to move forward to years ahead,” he said.

The Head of State’s vision is for the establishment of child advocacy centres in all ten administrative regions of Guyana.

The spanking new facility is a huge achievement for the Ministry of Social Protection. Subject minister the Hon Amna Ally explained that the 24-hour service centre can hold some 80 children. It also has eight self-contained apartments for families who may need temporary shelter.

“The centre will be a sanctuary and the first stop for vulnerable children. It will offer an alternative to caregivers, at risk for abandoning or placing their child in residential care,” she explained.

According to Minister Ally, children living in the institution are expected to attend school and be enrolled in a daycare if they have not attained school age. Parents will be required to work, attend job training programmes, seek housing and employment and attend social service appointments.

While the facility is there to assist vulnerable families, the aim is also to encourage independence and self-sufficiency through empowerment. The centre will, therefore, accommodate families for three months or longer, before the families move on.

Minister Ally too believes that children grow best in families. “Many children are being brought away from their families because of poverty, not because they are unloved or unwanted. At the ministry, we believe children grow best in families and so we fight every day to help families go from barely surviving to thriving.”