Whilst birth-rates for teenagers between the ages of 17 to 19 years decreased in 2010, research findings presented by the Ministry of Health in St Vincent and the Grenadines show a significant increase in underage pregnancies between the ages of 10-14. However, recent initiatives carried out through the Roving Caregivers Programme (RCP) have sought to address these issues. Interviewed at the annual RCP Coordinators’ meeting at the Savannah Hotel, Barbados, RCP coordinator Judith Hull-Ballah talked about combating the growing social problem through advocacy activities, curriculum training and parenting education.
“In the first instance, we had some resistance from parents as they were uncomfortable with people coming into their homes,” she said. Parents were unfamiliar with RCP methods and activities, and initially doubted the importance of this early childhood development programme. However, many parents are now committed to RCP parenting training, and the programme is growing.
Judith adds that RCP and the Ministries are “together trying to plan how we go forward to tackle the social problems that affect St Vincent and the Grenadines, [along with] the courts and the public sector. There is much more work to be done, and there is definitely room for improvement.”
Moving to a global platform: The need for a Caribbean-based foundation for children
Delegates at the 2011 RCP Coordinators’ meeting discussed the formation of the Foundation for the Development of Caribbean Children (FDCC) – the organisation that replaces the CCSI later this year – which seeks to ensure Caribbean young children from all social and economic backgrounds have equal opportunities to reach their maximum potential.
Noting how critical it is to mainstream quality early childhood development and parenting support practices, RCP coordinator Judith Hull-Ballah, St Vincent and the Grenadines, said the FDCC will enable RCP coordinators “to speak in a voice that has more ownership”. She added, “We are now moving upwards to something that will catch international attention. We have had a lot of [conference] discussions on how we can involve people in the international arena to put money into the foundation.” The FDCC is moving the CCSI to a global platform.