The Child Development Agency (CDA) is a leader in Jamaica’s child protection system, with a growing regional reputation for our work in promoting child-friendly policies and ground-breaking programmes to strengthen families. Established in 2004, out of a merger of the Child Support Unit, the Child Services Division, and the Adoption Division, the CDA is now under the purview of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information.
In carrying out its mandate, the agency:
- Provides support to children in need of care and protection (those who have been, abused, abandoned, neglected or vulnerable due to disability);
- Carries out advocacy/public education programmes to prevent child abuse;
- Investigates reports of child abuse, abandonment and neglect to determine the best interest of the child which supports the Courts and the Police;
- Provides quality care for children who are brought into the care of the State (those who live in children’s homes and places of safety).
- Advises government on policy and legal issues relating to children.
The agency’s staff members are spread across our corporate office located in Kingston, four regional offices and 13 parish offices as well as child care facilities. Our team of social workers and others, maintain an active schedule in serving children and families as part of the effort to restore the fabric of the Jamaican family and empower children to achieve their highest potential.
The Agency also provides residential child care services. This includes direct responsibility for the operation and management of eight government children’s homes and places of safety, and the monitoring and licensing of another 40 plus private homes.
However, over the last several years, the agency has been placing greater emphasis on Living in Family Environment (LIFE) Programmes as an alternative to residential care.
LIFE programmes enable children to live in family situations, even as they are in the care of the State. These include foster care, adoption and family reintegration.
Initiatives such as Children and Family Support Units established in CDA’s regional offices, and the Multi-Agency Partnership with agencies such as CISOCA, Office of the Children’s Registry and the Ministry of Justice’s Victim Support Unit, are helping to keep children out of State care, through counseling and other interventions to families and abused victims. The Multi-Agency Partnership also enables child victims to be interviewed and counseled in a caring and sensitive atmosphere.
CDA remains committed to the mission of empowering and supporting children and families as part of nation-building.
The work of the CDA is governed by the Child Care and Protection Act, among other laws and policies.