Response to JFJ and Hear the Children's Cry

No. 67 Wednesday, March 17, 2010
The Ministry of Health stands by the job description of the Chief Executive Officer of the Child Development Agency (CDA). The job description appropriately reflects the work that is undertaken by the Chief Executive Officer and which is reflected in the Performance Agreement that is signed between the CEO and the portfolio Minister.

    As in the case in all institutions, leaders are responsible for the achievement of the strategic and corporate goals in keeping with the vision, mission and man­date of the organization. In this specific instance, the corporate goals and objectives would naturally relate to the care and protection of Jamaica's children.
    It is important to point out that the CEO of any Executive Agency is an ac­counting officer and has responsibility for the overall performance of the agency as well as ensuring that the business of the organization operates within the boundaries of constitutional propriety.
    It would appear that there is little appreciation for the link between the proper functioning of the CDA and the ability of its facilities to "properly protect the children presently in its care"
    It must be noted that within the CDA are persons with different levels of responsibility including Facility Managers, Children's Officers, Parish Managers and Regional Directors. The function of the Child Care Facility Manager, for ex­ample, speaks to offering care and protection for children who are brought into the institution in a manner that enables these children to achieve a high level of social functioning. Such a manager would be responsible for providing a physically safe, emotionally secure and healthy home substitute for the children.
    It would appear that there is some con­fusion about the functions of the CEO who has general responsibility for the strategic direction of the agency and for the development of the standards, and the organizational policy parameters with the more task oriented functions that would take place at the points of service delivery.
    As regards to the qualifications that are required, the Ministry is interested in recruiting a candidate with a proven track record in leadership and strategic management and with a sound knowledge of public policy. Even a cursory glance at the job advertisement would confirm that the qualifications required include postgraduate and undergraduate training in a number of areas including child adolescent health and social work. These skills are also far more critical and appropriate for persons working at the different levels within the organization and who will have direct interface with the wards of the state in the normal course of their duties. However, no job description, however, expertly crafted can guarantee attracting persons of integrity who are "capable and committed" to the job.
    The Ministry also takes note of the repeated attempts to link the unfortunate tragedy at Armadale to the CDA. It is clear that given the government's recent decision to place children in correctional facilities under the jurisdiction of the CDA as well as the government's clear intention to develop the necessary legislative and policy framework to support this decision, that the CDA and by extension the Ministry of Health, does not, at present, have responsibility for children in these facilities.
    The Ministry of Health looks forward to the recruitment of a suitable candidate who can move the country's child centered agenda forward.

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