Ayanna Webster-Roy, minister in the Prime Minister’s Office responsible for gender and children’s affairs, said the National Children’s Register (NCR) is seen as a practical tool to monitor child development and reduce abuse, neglect and exclusion of children in TT.
Launching the registry at the Brix, Autograph Collection, Cascade, Port of Spain, on Friday, Webster-Roy said the initiative would revolutionize the current child custody and protection regime.
“The NCR is a government data management and sharing system that would serve as a secure repository for information about children across the country, including young adults transitioning from our child care institutions and children disabled. It is the first of its kind in the Caribbean and is based on identified gaps in our public systems to recognize and address developing issues as we strengthen the whole government approach to child care and protection of children.
She said the division coordinated and planned cross-sectoral activities to ensure they were one step ahead of child abuse.
“The NCR will provide a common platform for information to be updated directly from systems currently in use across various ministries and agencies that have direct contact with children in the delivery of their services. This initiative demonstrates the government’s commitment to integrating technology into the way we do business by establishing the registry as a digital child protection mechanism to monitor and track children’s development and the achievement of milestones.
Webster-Roy said the registry will track whether children meet developmental milestones such as school attendance, immunizations and receipt of grants and other services due to them. She said this would act as a preventative measure to identify if services due to a child are not being received or accessed, which could help identify possible abuse or neglect, which will be reported and the departments and agencies responsible for the childhood will be alerted to investigate. .
The platform was created by BMAK Consultancy. CEO Peter Neckles said each department would only be able to access its section of the website, where specific data entry people would update records. He said there were nine levels of access to the site, with level nine having the least access. He said the only person who would be able to access all the information in the database would be the NCR coordinator, who would have level one access.
Neckles said the stakeholders who would update the records on the website are the Ministries of Health, Education, Labour, Sports, Youth Development and National Service, the Training Center and Youth Rehabilitation, Trinidad and Tobago Social Services, Anti-Trafficking Unit, and Children’s Authority. He said that as more stakeholders sign on the register, they will also have access to add records.
“When a child is born, its birth is registered. As, for example, vaccination milestones pass, if the child is not registered as having received these vaccines, an alert will be created and the Ministry of Health can contact the parents to have the children vaccinated. If after five years the child is not enrolled in school, an alert will be triggered and the coordinator can determine whether the child has migrated or died based on immigration and health, then the Ministry of Education can contact the parents to find out why the child is not in school.
Neckles said children would be removed from the registry at 18 unless their records were flagged under special circumstances.
National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds said he was relieved the initiative was operationalized.
“Some of the tragedies that TT has had to endure, in terms of abused or missing children, it seems like a bit of a solution to a number of those issues. I’m impressed that my colleague took on this project, that she met on paper to the ministry, and turned it into the reality we recognize today.
Hinds recalled the case of a teenage girl who disappeared in the early 2000s, who disappeared for four weeks and was found murdered, but did not miss her school or the house she was in, because people were used to her being away for a long time. periods.
“She was left to rot on a pile of rubbish and it stuck with me. This program responds directly to this kind of possibility. From a national security perspective, recognizing the abuse and murder of so many of our children, we welcome this. I understand that elements of the Ministry will be involved, including police records, and I acknowledge that we at the Ministry, understanding its importance, will make our full contribution to the successful application and operation of the register.
Child development specialist Illianna Samaroo said the register’s organizational chart was being prepared for submission to Cabinet for approval. She said that in many cases, people already employed by ministries would be given responsibility for data entry. She said interviews would be conducted for each position and people would be asked to sign nondisclosure agreements.