State childcare facilities across the island are set to benefit from a suite of programmes and initiatives, to better address the psychosocial and psychological needs of children.
This will be achieved, following the successful pilot of the Trauma-Informed Cognitive Behaviour Modification (TICBM) project as part of the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) Behaviour Modification Programme (BMP).
The TICBM programme calls for the caregiving activities and responses to come from recognising the signs of childhood traumatic stress and becoming better able to respond in ways that do not re-traumatise the children or caregivers.
The trauma-informed care response is based on six core principles, which are safety, empowerment, trustworthiness, collaboration, empowerment, and acknowledgement of cultural differences.
The aim of the programme is for caregivers to identify and focus on a child’s irrational, exaggerated and distorted thought patterns that are reflected in their maladaptive behaviours.
So far, several staff members employed to select childcare facilities have benefited from training in behaviour intervention under the programme.
Director, Policy Planning and Evaluation at the CPFSA, Newton Douglas, tells JIS News that the CPFSA recognises behaviour modification as one of the key services to better help the children in State care.
“We see it, therefore, as a critical component of service delivery to children, especially those who may have come in contact with the Agency through investigations conducted by our Children and Family Support Unit,” he says.
The CPFSA engaged the services of a strategic behaviour modification expert to develop and implement the project.
Through this consultancy, the Agency’s needs were assessed, and a comprehensive TICBM programme was developed to fully satisfy the needs of the Agency and its stakeholders.
Three childcare facilities participated in the pilot, namely the St. Augustine facility for boys in Clarendon, the Manning Boys’ Home in St. Elizabeth, and Granville Place of Safety for Girls in Trelawny.
Some senior members of staff, including social workers and supervisors assigned to the facilities, were exposed to the rudiments of the TICBM pilot.
Manager for the Granville Child Care Facility in Trelawny, Marcia Wilton-McGibbon, tells JIS News, that some of the girls housed at the facility display behavioural issues, including high-level aggression, and suicidal tendencies.
“The implementation of this programme will equip our staff members with the different skill sets to be better able to care for these girls, so that there can be a change in behaviour, which will make their living environment much calmer,” she points out.
Manager for the Manning Child Care facility in St. Elizabeth, Delroy Brown, says there has been a marked improvement in the behaviour of the boys since the implementation of the pilot.
According to him, because of the training he along with other staff members was exposed to under the TICBM programme, they are now better prepared to deal with maladaptive behaviours.
“Instead of jumping to punish a child who misbehaves, we now look at other interventions to help them, such as rewards for good/positive behaviour and commendation for achievements,” he says.
Meanwhile, Mr. Douglas states that as soon as the pilot assessment is ratified, there will be a phased implementation of the programme using knowledge gained from the pilot.
He explains that childcare facilities that have a lower threshold in terms of the number of behavioural issues will be given priority but, ultimately, the programme will be implemented in all locations.
He points out that the TICBM will also apply to children and their families that are served by the CPFSA’s Living in Family Environment Programme, such as foster care.
To support the entrenchment of this programme, several resources have been developed, including training materials along with an adult learning kit, a comprehensive treatment plan to be used by the CPFSA and its partners and a comprehensive directory of service providers who provide additional support to the CPFSA.
The TICBM project is one of the initiatives under the CPFSA’s information and communications technology (ICT) expansion project, which is being executed with the support of the Transformation Implementation Unit (TIU) and with funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
The full programme is to be fully rolled out in the second half of 2023.