” The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped. ” – Last Speech of Hubert H. Humphrey the 38th Vice President of the United States of America. There never has been a more sincere and representative statement on how one must judge a government. If we were to judge or use the above as a litmus test the end result would show the Peoples Partnership lead by the Honourable Kamla Persad Bissessar to be the most caring and self less government in our nation’s history.
Minister of Gender, Child and Youth Development Clifton De Coteau said in Parliament yesterday that the long-awaited Children’s Authority is staffed and ready to receive reports and rescue children who are being abused in this country. He was speaking on motions for approval the Children’s Authority Regulations, 2014 and the Children’s Community Residences Regulations 2014 that will allow the Authority to commence its operations. Minister De Coteau said the Authority has a staff of 102 qualified persons and, in addition, a specialised children’s protection unit was set up in the Police Service, where some 85 police officers were trained by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on handling cases that involve child abuse.
Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development, Clifton de Coteau noted, “No longer should children be tormented by those who are closest to them and who they trust. No longer should child victims have to suffer in silence. No longer should detection rates be so abysmally low and no longer should victims have poor care and treatment.” Minister of Gender and Child Development, Clifton De Coteau, told Parliament the Children’s Authority is finally ready to intervene or remove children from environments that threaten their safety and well-being as he described how the Authority and its auxiliary units are prepared to monitor and remove children from dangerous situations. Some of the initiatives the Government have been implementing to ensure the system is improved include ; offering one-off Grants up to a maximum of $250,000 in the existing community residences to ensure that they can meet the standards prescribed , with 12 Grants having already been approved. While construction of two Remand Centres and two Rehabilitation Centres at Aripo have begun.
These major accomplishments have been very historic for our nation’s development as never before has a Government and group of policy makers focus so intricately on the protection of this specific group of our nations vulnerable – our children. The Honourable Prime Minister must be credited and commended for commitment and leadership which has guided significant progress in child protection. As a leader she has recognized the importance of preventing and responding to violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect of children and ensuring their rights to survival, development and well-being. It must be noted the Prime Minister formed the Child Protection Task Force in December 2013, to expedite legislative measures to strengthen the safety net around the nation’s children.
There has been no leader in Trinidad and Tobago who has sought to develop a national framework of development based on such equitable criteria such as the Political Leader of the United National Congress Hon. Kamla Persad Bissessar Sc. Most Leaders in the global community base development around economic and Human Capital with some social welfare programs being used as “window dressing”. Thus the question must be asked how many of them actually seek to deal with the fundamental issues that affect the grass root individual. The Honourable Prime Minister has centered development around every aspect that affects the citizens of this great nation, from sport, social welfare, security and the economy. From day one as Prime Minister she has sought to protect our nation’s children as the first cabinet note she would have carried before her Government was for the development of the Children’s Life Fund.
The fund aims to ensure Children who need life saving medical procedures overseas would have the funds available to them. Over 147 children have benefited from the fund thus far as all of the Government Members contribute 5% of their salary per month and the PM herself contributes 10 % of her salary. The Fund has a total of $44, 786,955.19.
As American Scholar Warren Bennis said “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” and this is indeed what the our nation’s greatest leader has been doing as she and her Government works towards a better nation.
Youth Arm Chairman
United National Congress.