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Secondary School graduates now serving as Caregivers or Rovers

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Contact: Julita Peter

Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - The St. Lucia Chapter of the Roving Caregivers Program was officially launched at the Greenfields Inn in Dennery on Tuesday. The implementation process began in September 2004, and included the extensive training of 15 secondary school graduates who are now serving as caregivers or rovers in the communities of Auxlyon, Dennery Village, Monchy and Riviere Mitan.

The Roving caregivers early childhood home visiting program originated in Jamaica, and is a non-profit initiative designed to provide early stimulation and enrichment to young children, who have no access to early childhood education. The program was implemented in St. Lucia, following a recent Social Protection Review, which indicated that 39% of the nation’s children from ages 0-4 years were living below the poverty line, while 20% had no access to day care services.

Education officer for early childhood education Mrs. Marguerite Gustave said the program had so far proven to be successful.

“Some of our successes of the program include the commitment of Rovers to the task of educating and stimulating children in their care, an increase sense of responsibility and improvement in self esteem. Expression of satisfaction from community members who have indicated improved social skills and development in language patterns of children in the program. The inclusion of three male rovers in the program we consider a major success despite the attitude of male to ECD programming in St. Lucia”, saidMrs. Gustave.

Senior Programme Specialist of the Van Leer Foundation Mr. Hubb Schreurs, said the Rovers Caregivers program had the potential of bringing men and women together in social and economic development activities. He believes that the projects set an example for integrated services at the family level.

“Overtime, I do believe that this project could be considered another learning ground, a resource for many currently active in the more formal education institution, as it tries to incorporate recent thinking on child rearing, socialization, and parenting theories and practices”, Mr. Schreurs said..

The program will be replicated in the communities of Bruce Ville, Boisden, Anse la Raye and Augier, and is funded by international and local agencies. International donors include the Bernard Veer Leer Foundation, the Caribbean Support Initiative and the United Nations Children Fund. Among the local funding agencies are the Poverty Reduction Fund, the Basic Needs Trust Fund and the Ministry of Social Transformation, Culture and local Government.

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