Princes Town MP, Barry Padarath has slammed Minister Ayanna Webster-Roy for being clueless and callous regarding the circumstances surrounding the two pregnant teenage girls at Children’s Homes in the country. Padarath stated whether it is by design or ignorance, the Minister has failed to level with the population about what is still happening at these homes.
The Opposition Shadow Minister for Children’s Affairs at the UNC’s Monday Night Report in Gasparillo asked how teenage girls at Children’s Homes became pregnant. Padarath is challenging the explanation provided by Minister Ayanna Webster-Roy that the child entered the homes already pregnant. He stated that while in the custody and care of the homes under the purview of the Children’s Authority, both girls became pregnant. He also added relatives of the two teenage girls had reached out to him because they felt that the Children’s Authority had failed the two pregnant teens.
Padarath stated that from September 15th to present, Minister Ayana Webster-Roy has demonstrated that she is out of her league in managing the protection, safety, security and wellbeing of our nation’s most vulnerable children. He stated that the Minister continuously makes excuses for her poor performance and throws the blame on the state agencies, failing to realize that she sets the policy for them to follow upon.
Padarath indicated that in the recent supplementation, the government indicated that part of the $62 million allocated to the Children’s Authority will be used to establish an internal security system at the authority to have oversight of all Children’s Homes and Residences. MP Padarath questioned that if this system was now being developed then what oversight mechanism currently exists at the Children Authority to monitor safety and security, particularly against sexual and physical abuse at the Children’s homes.
The Princes Town MP stated that the government has demonstrated that they don’t have the political will as well as the personnel to drive the changes needed at the agencies charged with protecting children.
The MP is calling on the government to appoint the Children’s Ombudsman with immediate effect. Establishing the Office of the Children’s Ombudsman was one of the recommendations of the Justice Judith Jones Report. Padarath stated that had the government acted on that recommendation, we would be in a better position to address the cover-ups and denials at the Children’s Authority. Padarath is also encouraging the Minister to get to work and reach out to the families of the pregnant teenage girls to offer mediation and support.