Basseterre, St. Kitts, July 14, 2016 (SKNIS): Teen mothers attending a Project Viola Capacity Building Workshop will be allowed to breast feed their infants and check on their young children, thanks to the on-site daycare services provided by the coordinator the Ministry of Community Development, Social Services and Gender Affairs and its partner agency the Early Childhood Development Unit.
The two-week training, which is sponsored by the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF), will run from July 11 – 22 and explore topics such as personal grooming and appearance and sexual health and reproduction, as well as provide gender sensitization training to 20 participants. It takes place at the Advanced Vocational Education Centre (AVEC).
Celia Christopher, Director of Gender Affairs, took the opportunity to thank the BNTF for approving the childcare component in the sponsorship.
“We have had situations in the past, where sometimes girls could not complete their education because of the fact that they didn’t have financing for childcare and they had problems with maintenance and stuff like that,” she said, emphasizing that the young mothers should not have to deal with that additional stress. “And that is where the Department normally comes in, we ensure that all these barriers are removed and things like daycare and so on are addressed, so that they can continue their education unimpeded.”
Valerie Dolphin, an Early Childhood Resource Teacher, visited the childcare room at AVEC to ensure that the facilities were adequate for the young children and also met the requirements of the two Early Childhood staff members and one volunteer who will be looking after approximately six children. The service is provided free of cost to those teen parent participants who were unable to find someone to care for their children during the two-week training session. Mrs. Dolphin explained Early Childhood’s role, noting that the children were not simply being “minded.”
“While the mothers are having their training, there is need for their children to be cared for and not just the minding, but they need stimulation, early stimulation,” Mrs. Dolphin said, noting that Early Childhood teachers are trained in how to use certain activities and techniques to aid young children in their cognitive, physical, emotional and social development.
“As you see we have babies to older toddlers, so there’s the need to have the children in a stimulating environment with persons who would have the previous experience about how to take care of young children of this nature.”
Mrs. Dolphin applauded the Department of Gender Affairs for inviting her unit to partner with it, and proudly explained that it would be the developing infants and toddlers who will be the true beneficiaries.
BNTF is providing a total of $200,000 to sponsor the workshop that will train Project Viola participants and at-risk youth, as well as other segments of society including teachers and counsellors and specified public sector workers. All groups will receive gender sensitization training.
Erslyn Bridgewater, BNTF Community Liaison Officer, said that one aim of her organization is to “invest in capacity enhancements to enable the poor and the vulnerable to respond to opportunities, to increase their assets and secure their wellbeing.”
“As teen mothers and their children, as well as at-risk youths, remain a very vulnerable population in St. Kitts-Nevis, the BNTF Office was very willing to provide financial support to the programme, which has the potential to improve the quality of life and living standards for the targeted groups,” Mrs. Bridgewater said. “I must say how extremely proud I am of this group who has seized the opportunity to be part of this life-changing experience.”