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Sunday 25 March 2018

Children’s Authority points Single Fathers Association to the police

THE Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago is advising president of the Single Fathers Association, Rhondall Feeles, to direct his concerns about certain matters to the police.

The Authority was commenting on statements made by Feeles, a father of two, on the arrest of a man who allegedly sexually abused his daughter.

Feeles believed that both the Authority and the Child Protection Unit should come together to provide protection for those who were unjustly accused, referring to the case where a father was arrested for allegedly assaulting his eight-year-old daughter.

Feeles said the Authority should be fair and equitable with families without having children being removed from their homes.

However, the Authority said a child was not removed by the them, but by the police under section 45 of the Children Act, 2012.

Cheryl Moses-Williams, corporate communications manager of the Children’s Authority, said they had communicated with the father and provided information about the well-being of his child while the police investigations were being conducted.

She said given that the other children would have been alone upon the arrest of the father; the police requested that the Authority receive the children into its care, in accordance with Section 22 of the Children’s Authority Act saying that the Authority had no option but to receive the two children.

Moses-Williams further stated that the Authority’s Emergency Response Team facilitated the removal of the other two children, ensured that they were settled, and would continue to follow up with counselling and support for the child who was due to write the Secondary Entrance Assessment Examination (SE A).

She further stated that the Authority does not conduct criminal investigations.

“The police are responsible for criminal investigations. The police investigations are independent of the Authority and the Authority cannot interfere with police investigations,” she said.

However, this did not sit well with Feeles who believes that some of the accused were being victimised.

“The Authority said it conducted 150 supervised visits.

Ten of the families have not gotten any of these visits.

“Some of the cases that we send to them are not being treated with. Some children are being abandoned.

“It has been over a year where I have been sending information to them and nothing is being done. They are saying only when something is done to a child then they can respond,” Feeles told Newsday.

Feeles said the Child Protection Unit and the Children’s Authority should merge together to deal with issues involving children.

“I have a problem with both of them because they are not responding well.

“I have been pleading with them to provide counselling for children who are removed from their homes.

“When a child is removed from a home for 100 days and the family knows nothing, they want to know that the child is okay.

“Many of these children have religious beliefs. Some of them are Muslim, Hindu, Seventh Day Adventists, their parents want to know that they are not being fed things they are not accustomed eating that is against their religion,” Feeles said


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