On March 22nd, 2023 Shadow Minister for Child Affairs, MP Barry Padarath asked in Parliament whether the government had secured alternative accommodation and care for children who are in homes that will not be licensed upon the proclamation of the legislation which was due on March 31st (today).
The Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister responded saying that the matter will be ventilated at the monthly meeting of the Standing Committee on Child Protection, which was due to be held on March 23rd and a definite statement will be provided shortly thereafter.
This continued to be the response of Minister Webster-Roy when pressed by the MP for Princes Town, yet according to Padarath, the Minister has made no such statement to date and the legislation is due to be proclaimed today.
The MP admitted to the media that he was not surprised that Webster-Roy hadn’t kept her promise, as this is the one constant with the entire PNM administration.
The MP added that Minister Webster-Roy has continued to show gross incompetence and a total disregard for the most vulnerable children in our nation and he once again called for the Minister to account to the nation, telling us the government’s plans to safely accommodate children who are presently in homes that will not be licensed upon the proclamation of the legislation that is expected today.
Padarath said that government must say before the end of today what arrangements are in place for children who now reside in illegally operated homes, how many children will be affected, how many homes remain unlicensed and who will take responsibility for this situation. He added that passing the buck and remaining silent is not an option when the most vulnerable in our society, our nation’s children and their welfare is at stake.
The Shadow Minister also questioned whether government considered changing the date of proclamation as well as establishing a compliance team with a specific deadline to meet the requirements. He added that the Minister’s silence and lack of urgency on a critical matter like this was highly irresponsible and totally unacceptable.