Jamaican Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Zavia Mayne, says the Government is committed to establishing special needs facilities in every parish to serve children with various types of developmental disabilities.
He said that the number of children registered with the Early Stimulation Programme (ESP) has grown from 1,450 in 2016 to over 3,000 currently, and they are being served at the ESP’s four centres across the island.
Two are in the Corporate Area, one in is Portland, and the other is located in St. James.
“As a Ministry, we recognise, we are convinced that there is a need for this kind of service as offered under our ESP, right across Jamaica,” Mr. Mayne said.
“When you look at the numbers over the past five years and compare them with today, then you will see why there is a need for more facilities to assess and register children with special needs,” he added.
Mr. Mayne was speaking at the launch of the ESP’s Mobile Service Unit at the Ministry’s St. Elizabeth parish office in Santa Cruz on Thursday (January 28).
This bus, retrofitted at a cost of $12 million (JMD) will facilitate assessment and registration of children.
“The physiotherapist can do assessment of the child and we can do sessions with the parents to teach them how to stimulate the motor skills for children with disabilities,” Mr. Mayne pointed out.
He said that the unit will cater to children, who are registered with ESP, but are unable to travel to any of the programme’s four centres to access services. He noted that similar units will be provided for St. Ann and St. Mary shortly.
The ESP provides early stimulation and intervention for children from birth to six years-old with various types of developmental disabilities.
Among the disabilities managed by the programme are cerebral palsy and other physical disabilities ranging from sensory impairment, autism, down syndrome, developmental delay, secondary to psychosocial deprivation and co-morbid behavioural problems including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Children are mostly referred to the programme by health care workers, educators, social workers, parents and other agencies serving young children.
“Once a developmental delay is identified, an individual intervention programme is designed for each child. Consultation is held with parents to define roles and to ensure parent participation in the process,” Mr. Mayne said.