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Children in care to be given stronger voice after law passed

Social affairs minister Tinee Furbert (File photograph)

Children in care will be given a stronger voice through a new body of experts that will listen to their concerns, it has been claimed.

Tinee Furbert, the minister for social affairs, made the pledge when introducing the Children Amendment Act 2022 in the House of Assembly on Friday.

Ms Furbert said the amendment will bring Bermuda in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The bill, passed by MPs in the House yesterday, will replace the current Childcare Board with a new, more powerful body – the Children In Care Advisory Council.

Presenting the bill to the House, Ms Furbert said: “The purpose of the bill is to modernise the law and revise privileges, which are long overdue.

“The amendments will ensure that a new body, the Children In Care Advisory Council, is established to replace the existing board.

“The new council membership is designed to include persons, with skill sets in specificic areas, such as medical, legal, and educational fields.”

Ms Furbert said that a standing committee would be established to create a forum “that guarantees that children in care who are capable of forming their own views have a voice on matters related to their own social development and wellbeing”.

She added: “The responsibilities of the council will include inquiring into and reporting upon any matter referred by the minister and making recommendations to the social development and wellbeing of children.”

Ms Furbert said that the council will set up a youth panel which will allow youngsters “to present their thoughts and concerns to the committee of the advisory council, which will be referred to as the advisory council committee”.

She said: “The department of child and family services intends to introduce a non-statutory youth panel. The youth panel will have an opportunity to present their thoughts and concerns to the new standing committee of the advisory council.“

Ms Furbert said that the amendment will ensure “there will be a legislative provision in place to take into consideration the voice of children in care”.

She added: “A child should be provided the opportunity in any judicial or administrative proceeding affecting the child, either directly or through a representative or a body in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of international law.”

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Published March 28, 2022 at 7:47 am (Updated March 28, 2022 at 7:47 am)

Children in care to be given stronger voice after law passed

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