Kingston, 1 April 2020 – The Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport is giving support to vulnerable adolescent mothers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“During this period they were all sent home,” said the Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange who explained that about 500 adolescent mothers/expectant mothers have been affected by the temporary closure of the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation locations across the island in keep with measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation implements the Government’s Programme for Adolescent Mothers under which pregnant teenagers get to continue their education while receiving the necessary support to look after their children, including day care services.
Minister Grange said:
“I felt that it was necessary to provide them with what we call ‘dignity packages’. So we provided them with food stuff, toiletries, pampers for the babies, and nutrition for those who are still pregnant because we need to ensure that they get the proper nutrition while they are away from the centre.”
On Wednesday (today) Minister Grange presented ‘dignity packages’ to a few students at the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation’s main location in Kingston. Each student registered in the programme across 18 centres islandwide will receive ‘dignity packages’ over the next three days.
Minister Grange said:
“The girls will go into the centres across the island to pick up their packages and where they are unable to go, we will get the packages to them.
In addition to the dignity packages, we provide each girl with some funds [so] if there’s an emergency they have money that they can use.”
This special support for adolescent mothers is being funded through the resources of the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport and the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation.
The Executive Director of the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation, Dr Zoe Simpson, says the ‘dignity packages’ will make a difference for the girls, the majority of whom are from poor circumstances.
Dr Simpson said:
“We really applaud this initiative of the Minister. She has made herself available and the funds available for us to be able to provide the girls with these ‘dignity packages’ so [that] they can stay home and be as comfortable as possible. It is not a whole heap of things, but it is enough to keep them over a two or three week timeframe.”
Minister Grange said it’s important to provide continuous support to vulnerable adolescent mothers and their children.
“I’m using this opportunity to invite companies and individuals to contribute to this programme because it’s early days yet; and after we pass through this phase, I’m sure we’re going to continue to put packages together for the girls until we have overcome this period of Covid-19,” said Minister Grange.