In his budget presentation for fiscal 2019-2020, Finance Minister Colm Imbert proposed to introduce daycare centres to cater for children under three years old.
However, women’s activist Hazel Brown stressed that if insufficient planning is done into the quality of the childcare provided by this initiative, it could pose a threat to the health of the children.
In a telephone interview with Guardian Media yesterday, Brown said that “the care of children under five-years-old is the most critical area of development and requires very special kinds of skills.”
“Introducing these services without ensuring there are people who have the skills to adequately take care of the provision of those services has the potential of seriously damaging children,” she cautioned.
She also said that these daycares must be placed in areas that are easily accessible to single mothers.
“If you providing childcare services in areas that I can’t reach easily by public transport, then I’m no better off,” she said.
Minister Imbert indicated during his presentation that his intention for these daycares was to “provide childcare services for female-headed households who meet the stipulated criteria. These daycare centres would be established in communities throughout Trinidad and Tobago and would provide employment opportunities for women.”
He also proposed to introduce shelters for homeless females who have been displaced due to family conflict, domestic violence, crime and other issues. These shelters, he said, “will be established by the Housing Development Corporation with the support of the business community in specific geographical locations. Persons will be assigned to the shelters after a comprehensive assessment on a 3 to 12-month basis.
“The shelter is intended to provide temporary relief to women who are homeless.”
Brown commended this initiative, however, she noted that “we do have existing shelters, many of which are under-resourced” and suggested that “you want to make sure the ones you have are able to provide the service in an adequate way.”