Basseterre, St. Kitts, June 23, 2021 (SKNIS): The New Horizons Juvenile Rehabilitation Centre in St. Kitts is often considered the last resort for children who run afoul of the law. As such, the primary care and transformation of the residents fall squarely on the Centre’s staff working in collaboration with several stakeholders including, the Ministry of Social Development and law enforcement.
Shaneze Sam, a Case Worker at New Horizons, said that the interventions are developed based on professional assessment shaped by interactions with parents and the juveniles. An essential component involves the juveniles identifying their choices and the resulting consequences.
“We sit and talk to the child to get their perspective to make sure that they understand why they are with us [and] what the facility is,” she stated on ‘Working for You’ on June 23, 2021. “We explain the rules of the facility, what will happen while they are there, not only to the child but to the parents, so that everyone is clear.”
Ms. Sam said that the responsibility of the parents/guardians in the rehabilitation process is also clearly articulated so that they remain engaged with their child and embrace their role. It is an essential ingredient in shaping the family involvement throughout the process.
After the meetings with the parties, psychological, educational, medical, dental, and physical assessments are carried out to create a holistic intervention programme.
Ms. Sam indicated that the juveniles work with the staff to design a behavioural contract.
“The child will then identify to us what they think some of the behaviours are for them that they need to work on. Let’s say, for example, they say swearing is one of their things, they will say … swearing, this is what I can do, these are the people who can help me with it while I am here,” said the caseworker. “They even go so far as to create punishment. If I am doing it too much what can my punishment be? They are taking control and accountability for how their behaviour is managed and [it shows] how they are willing to buy into what we are trying to do for them.”
The children are always recognized for any improvement and the staff builds on this, reinforcing the positives to promote behavioural change. Additionally, each resident of the New Horizons Juvenile Rehabilitation Centre is given a clean slate when they walk through the gates.
Ms. Sam said the message is delivered clearly; “It doesn’t matter the reason that you came through the gate. You are through the gate now. You are a child; you will be treated with respect, love, and attention. That’s it, nothing else matters.”