The Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), in keeping with the Ministry of Education’s thrust to provide quality education for all children, has been committed to ensuring that children in state care reach their highest potential through access to education. To facilitate this, they spend in excess of 40 million dollars annually to cover tuition and examination fees for wards enrolled in primary and tertiary institutions.
If I said “ward of the state”, what comes to mind? Sadly, most persons have unconscious biases. Most will visualize teenage pregnancy, behavioural issues or expect nothing great to come from children who are in state care. I am here to paint a different picture.
Despite unspeakable trauma ranging from domestic and sexual abuse, to gross negligence and abandonment or the death of parents resulting in orphans amongst other cases, our wards of the state islandwide continuously kick ass at the CSEC and CAPE examinations, and for the past seven (7) years, the CPFSA has been staging its annual Educational Achievement Awards Ceremony to recognize the outstanding academic achievements of these youngsters in state care.
78 children who sat secondary exams in 2019 (CSEC, CAPE and other vocational exams) were recognized at the event, receiving awards and gifts for their achievements courtesy of corporate and individual sponsors.
The success of these students as they face adverse conditions should serve as a reminder to us all that we are not our circumstances, and our circumstances do not define our worth. I was honoured to be in the same room as them and inspired by their positive outlook on not just their individual futures but life on a whole.
To the house moms, foster moms and other guardians who help to restore the self -esteem of wards of State and who give encourage them to not become mere statistics, I salute you. o