|Young people the focus of new project
|Friday, September 15, 2017
The Government of Saint Lucia is tackling the issue of crime by not just investing in justice and security but getting to the root of the problem and providing opportunities and support to youth at risk.
Minister for Equity, Social Justice and Empowerment, Hon. Lenard Montoute, explained at Tuesday’s House sitting that the pilot program, Youth Empowerment for Life, is part of the government’s overall strategy to tackle crime and set our youth on the path to success.
The funds for the program will be secured from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Prime Minister Hon. Allen Chastanet explained, when he moved a motion for the government to loan US$2,860,000 from CDB’s Special Funds Resources (SFR) and accept a grant for US$800,000 for the project.
Prime Minister Chastanet detailed that the Youth Empowerment for Life Project is focused on mitigating risk factors that trigger criminal and anti-social behaviours at the individual, family, community and societal levels, with special emphasis on young men and vulnerable groups, especially children, at-risk youth and women.
The objective will be achieved through integrated youth court diversion programs; integrated community-based transformation programs; community based policing initiatives; design options for the George V Park in the city of Castries; and implementation support.
The prime minister also explained the main components of the project that will include a Youth Court Diversion Program comprised of two elements: youth recidivism reduction and an Out-of-School Suspension Program.
“Youth Recidivism Reduction will cater to young persons aged 12-19 and will include pre- and post-court diversion youth who have been recommended to the program or receive non-custodial sentencing. It will also cater to high school drop-outs. This element will be implemented by the Probation and Parole services unit,” explained the prime minister.
The Out-of-School Suspension Program will be implemented by the Department of Education and will engage meaningfully and focus on secondary school students who have been suspended for more than five days.
Other components of the program include community based policing and an Integrated Community-Based Transformation Program run by the Department of Equity that includes community after school programs, community summer programs, workshops and training related to sports and development, creative and expressive arts and business mentoring and life coaching.
An exciting component of the project is the design and upgrade of George V Park which will be implemented by the Castries City Council. Parliamentary Representative for Castries, Hon. Sarah Flood-Beaubrun, told the House of Assembly that she was honoured that such a program was being piloted in her constituency, and she looked forward to its success.
A unit to provide implementation support for the project will be established at the Department of Equity, Social Justice, Empowerment and Human Services.