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A total of 40 young ladies, from age 18 to 21, who have reached the required age to leave state care in children’s homes or as foster children in private residences, will be accommodated in Jamaica’s first transitional apartment complex, for which ground was broken on Friday, November 20, 2015 at Lady Musgrave Road in Kingston.
Speaking during the Ground Breaking Ceremony, the Prime Minister said that the project is intended to help female wards of the State transition smoothly from State care to managing successfully on their own. “We have to ensure that we do all we can to assist our children to transition from innocent, secure childhood into wholesome, fulfilling teenage years. We also have to facilitate their progress into becoming responsible successful adults,” the Prime Minister said. Mrs. Simpson Miller also announced that a second transitional facility will be built in St. Elizabeth to house 40 young men at the same stage of development.
In addition to accommodation, the Transitional Living Programme for Children in State Care will provide skills training, mentorship and employment opportunities. The University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus has pledged 30 scholarships for skills enriching courses for females and 15 for males. This was disclosed by UWI Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Open Campus Acting Principal, Dr Luz Longsworth. Dr Longsworth said the scholarships will enable the recipients to pursue Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) classes and certificate courses and will be named in honour of late UWI Vice Chancellor, Professor Rex Nettleford.
The project is funded by the United States Agency for International Development under the Development Grants Programme in the total amount of US$1.45M and is being implemented through the collaborative efforts of the Caribbean Child Development Centre, the Child Development Agency, the Social Welfare Training Centre and the UWI Project Management Office.
In his remarks, Ambassador of the United States of America to Jamaica Mr. Luis Moreno welcomed the Programme, noting that wards of the state must be prepared for independent living and empowered to fulfill their dreams and potential.