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Dec 3, 2021

Changes to Juvenile Offenders Act and Family and Children’s Act

Today, Minister of Human Development and Families, Dolores Balderamos Garcia presented a Bill to amend the Juvenile Offenders Act and a Bill for an Act to amend the Families and Children Act. The amendments seek to repeal the provisions that relate to status offences and related matters and to make a substitution for the term “approved children’s home” with the term “residential care facility,” when making reference to the Youth Hostel. The minister explained how the amendments will improve the lives and wellbeing of the children at the facility.

 

Dolores Balderamos-Garcia, Minister of Human Development

“I was almost in tears on visiting the Youth Hostel at Mile twenty-one. So horrendous were the physical facilities and the breakdown of the infrastructure, but I pledged then to my colleagues on this side of the House and the entire House, National Assembly and the people of Belize that we would bring about fundamental infrastructural changes as well as systemic changes to the condition of our children who need residential care as well as children who may be in conflict with the law. By the way, for the record, Mr. Speaker, I only wish to say at this point that only fifteen percent of the children at the Hostel are there for some kind of offence – a petty offence like stealing or something like that. The vast majority of them, Mr. Speaker, are there because of financial need, family need, and neglect and difficulty in their growing up circumstances.  Mr. Speaker the children who are at risk and in difficult circumstances will experience a better life now with our change to residential care facility, the protection that the Families and Children’s Act provides in providing for that residential care facility in that legislation so that we put it all together, those are the things that we’re trying to achieve this afternoon. With better supervision for children and more assistance to meet their health, educational and family needs, we will do better, not only for the children of the Hostel but in signaling to the entire country that we mean business about the protection, best interest and advancement of all Belizean children.”


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