The dumping of a newborn baby boy in a river at Ravine Chabot, Castries has resulted in widespread criticism, a hot topic of discussion, and most importantly, a genuine concern for citizens island-wide. The baby was discovered in a black plastic bag at about 10:00 a.m., on Thursday, August 21.
Coordinator of the Foster Care and Adoption Programme at the Ministry of Human Services, Victoria Francis, told St. Lucia News Online (SNO) in an exclusive interview today, August 28, that the incident is an unfortunate one and is advising persons in situations where they cannot afford to take care of a child, to seek help.
“Some people are aware of the services and even those that are unaware can still come into the ministry,” Francis advised.
She explained the programme is a safety net for children in difficult circumstances.
“We can try to have a plan in place for mothers, where the child can be placed in foster care or put up for adoption,” she added.
The role at the Human Services Ministry, she explained, is to find a suitable home for these foster children and to ensure that the children are in a safe and loving environment.
“Persons can come in to human services and we can speak with them, provide them with the physiological support needed for placing the child up for adoption,” Francis added.
The foster programme coordinator stated that they are a number of women who have joined the programme. She said in most cases it is because the women are financially unstable and wish to secure better homes and families for their children.
She further explained however, that they are a number of other reasons why mothers seek the assistance of the ministry.
“Some might be a situation of rape or the person they got pregnant for denies paternity and does not accept responsibility and they feel that they are not able to cope with a new baby.”
The coordinator told SNO that they are many persons who are willing to adopt children, who enter foster care programme. She explained that the adoption process is a legal matter that must be placed before the court.
Interested persons must undergo an assessment process to determine their suitability, provide character references, police certificate and recent medical report; be of sound emotional and mental health and be in a stable relationship. Applicants and their families must also be interviewed and their homes, visited as part of the assessment process.
The objective of the programme is also to provide alternative placements for children in need of care and protection; to help children heal emotionally and afford them the opportunity to once again enjoy their childhood.
It also seeks to enable children to go on to become well-adjusted adults who can enjoy their personal lives and make a valuable contribution to the society; to recruit and train foster parents and adoptive parents; and to promote family preservation through appropriate methods.
The foster care programme also provides services in child abuse and, neglect prevention and management, child maintenance, foster care and adoption, counseling, crisis intervention and critical incident stress debriefing (CISD).