Through counselling and guidance, 53 families, who have children exhibiting disruptive behaviours, and who were deemed “high risk” delinquents, were helped in 2020 through the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security’s (MoHSSS) Family Matters Programme.

Eighty-four families were part of the programme, which was adopted from the USAID Community Family and Youth Resilience (CFYR) project in June 2020. The programme targeted youths between the ages of 10 and 17 who displayed anti-social behaviours that negatively impacted the family dynamics and have the propensity to have run-ins with the law.

Of the 84 cases – 53 or 63.1% of the youths who were considered high risk at the beginning of the programme are now classified as “low-risk’, while 8 cases or 9.5% showed improvements. However, 23 cases or 27.4% were still considered at-risk youths.

MOHSSS Minister, Vindhya Persaud, noted that the results reflected positive changes among the families that received the intervention although there were reduced face-to-face meetings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am pleased with the progress made with these troubled youths and that families are becoming more stable due to the intervention of the Family Matters programme. I must commend the Officers for their dedicated efforts to provide counselling and support to these families,” she stated.

How families qualify?

Referrals are made based on cases assigned to the Ministry’s Probation or Child Care Officers or parents can contact Family Enhancement Services on telephone numbers 231-5871/2.

In addition, the programme has nine factors that define “at risk” tendencies: weak parental supervision; critical life events; impulsive risk taking; family gang influence; negative peer influence; peer delinquency; commitment to school and self-reporting delinquency.

Youths are selected for the programme if they are found to have more than four of these risk factors.

The Family Matters programme is a collaborative partnership between the Childcare Protection Agency (CPA) and the Family Enhancement Services of the Probation and Social Services Department, implemented under the theme, “Family Matters Transforms the Ways Families Function So they Can Better Protect At Risk Youth”. It consists of seven phases that are conducted over a six-month period.

At the end of the programme, family members are expected to interact more frequently; communicate more effectively; make joint decisions more regularly; demonstrate a stronger sense of family pride and exhibit a stronger reliance on community networks for support.


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