Port of Spain: On 14th August 2018, the Office of the Prime Minister (Gender and Child Affairs) together with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) hosted the first Regional Work-Planning Meeting for Child Protection Focal Points in the Caribbean.

This meeting which takes place from August 14 to 16, 2018, will engage eleven (11) Regional Children Focal Points across the Caribbean in the sharing of best practices on child protection strategies. The objectives of the meeting are to:

  1. examine the status of national child protection systems in the region;
  2. address child protection gaps in each country;
  3. consider inter-country responses to the related child protection issues affecting countries;
  4. create a platform for collaboration between regional child protection workers;
  5. facilitate the exchange of best practices in the region; and
  6. examine disaster management strategies nationally and regionally.

At the Opening Ceremony, addresses were delivered by Her Excellency Paula-Mae Weekes, President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago; the Honourable Ayanna Webster-Roy, Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister and Ms. Muriel Mafico, UNICEF Representative, UNICEF Office for Eastern Caribbean.

Ms. Mafico indicated that while the region is making progress, the region has a lot more to do, so that no child is left behind. She emphasized that this calls for “strong partnerships, collective actions and shared solutions”.

Minister Webster-Roy encouraged everyone to live out their responsibility as the region moves towards  #OneDirectionChildProtection.  She reiterated that “what we sow into the life of our children as a region today we will reap as a region tomorrow” and ask that we strive to “sow good seeds so that when it is time to harvest, the harvest will be good… When our children grow up and write our history they will be good to us”.

Her Excellency, Paula-Mae Weekes, in her feature address, echoed similar sentiments, stating that “a region which can protect its children secures its future”.

She noted that the meeting is a “significant step towards addressing one of our most pressing needs, a unified approach to child protection, which would of course allow for variations depending on the particular needs of the jurisdiction, will prevent duplication of efforts and the consequent waste of scarce resources”.

She emphasized that it is “in all our interests to streamline our efforts to ensure the Caribbean region is well equipped for the business of child protection”.

The three (3) day meeting will consist of syndicate and plenary sessions, country presentations and site visits to local child protection institutions. The regional findings and child protection initiatives will be discussed by expert practitioners and policy makers to gain a regional context to examine their national systems. The Caribbean countries in attendance include; Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Turks and Caicos, the British Virgin Islands and Trinidad and Tobago.

Special thanks to our many contributors to this event including the National Museum and Art Gallery, the House of Angostura, Nigel R Khan Bookseller, Nestlé Limited, Eco-Truffles, Twigs Natural, Scrip J, Very Exciting Things, Moruga Hill Rice, Trini Bon Chocolate, the National Library Information System Authority (NALIS),  the National Trust and the Hyatt Regency Trinidad.