Home where they be­long

Fa­ther re­unites with girls in state care

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Na­dine Wil­son-Har­ris Staff Re­porter na­dine.wil­son@glean­erjm.com

HIS TWO baby girls were just seven and four years old when they were placed in state care, but the heart­break­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of tem­po­rar­ily los­ing his chil­dren was what helped to re­in­force for Evon Pol­lack the value of be­ing a par­ent.

Both girls were placed in a home after he and their mother called it quits. This meant Pol­lack had to travel from Kingston to Mon­tego Bay, St James, ev­ery two weeks to visit his chil­dren, who lived for a while at the Robin’s Nest Chil­dren’s Home be­fore they were even­tu­ally placed with a foster par­ent in West­more­land.

“I just feel that lit­tle one-day joy, there and it would keep me for all a week or two weeks un­til I am ready to see them again,” he re­called of his vis­its.

But the fa­ther grew very tired of ex­pe­ri­enc­ing just “a one-day joy”, and this pushed him to make the nec­es­sary ar­range­ments to have his chil­dren back home with him.

“I rather to be the one to have my youths them around me to give them that fa­therly love, and to give them the love that Au­drey Budhi, di­rec­tor of Chil­dren and Fam­ily Pro­grammes at the Child Devel­op­ment Agency.

me never get from my fa­ther, be­cause I grew with­out a fa­ther, just my mother alone, and that trau­ma­tised me; so I imag­ined what it would do to them, and they are girls,” he shared with The Sun­day Gleaner.

After meet­ing the var­i­ous re­quire­ments by the Child Devel­op­ment Agency (CDA), Pol­lack was fi­nally re­united with his daugh­ters.

To­day, he and his girls are in­sep­a­ra­ble, de­spite the strug­gles of pro­vid­ing for their ev­ery need and mak­ing sure they adopt pos­i­tive val­ues and at­ti­tude. He is not alone, how­ever, as he gets help from the chil­dren’s pa­ter­nal and ma­ter­nal grand­moth­ers and their mother, who still main­tains com­mu­ni­ca­tion with them from over­seas.

“The great­est chal­lenge is fi­nan­cial. To give them lunch money to go school is a ma­jor role. You have to try to make sure that that is there ev­ery day be­cause you don’t want them to stop from school,” he said.

“For me, any­where I have to get the lit­tle lunch money for them I have to get it. Some­times I go and do lit­tle paint­ing for some­body, bore two wall and hang up two pic­ture frame, any lit­tle thing, even to cut yard some­times,” said the fa­ther, who laments the fact that a num­ber of Ja­maican chil­dren have been ne­glected by their dads.

CARE AND GUID­ANCE

Pol­lack is among sev­eral par­ents who have been re­united with their chil­dren in state care, as the Govern­ment moves to rein­te­grate more of these chil­dren with fam­ily mem­bers. Up to De­cem­ber of last year, there were 4,384 chil­dren in the care of the State, with the largest pro­por­tion of these chil­dren be­ing in chil­dren’s homes.

In an ef­fort to en­sure that these par­ents are equipped to carry out their roles, the CDA has been host­ing sev­eral work­shops and sem­i­nars to help them build their ca­pac­ity to pro­vide love, care and guid­ance. The most re­cent seminar was held at the Al­pha In­sti­tute on South Camp Road in Kingston.

Di­rec­tor of Chil­dren and Fam­ily Pro­grammes at the CDA Au­drey Budhi noted dur­ing the event that im­proper

par­ent­ing has re­sulted in high levels of abuse and ne­glect of chil­dren in the so­ci­ety.

“Over the years, we have placed em­pha­sis on good par­ent­ing be­cause our aim is to equip par­ents with ad­di­tional child-rear­ing skills to cope with their chil­dren. These ses­sions aim to pre­pare par­ents and care­givers on what to ex­pect when their chil­dren are re­turned to

them,” she said.

CDA’s Mo­bile Men­tal Health Unit psy­chol­o­gist, Sophia Brown, pointed to the fact that based on as­sess­ments over the years, sev­eral chil­dren in state care grap­ple with is­sues such as learn­ing dis­or­ders, de­pres­sion, sui­cide ideation and at­ten­tion deficit hy­per­ac­tiv­ity dis­or­der.

NOT SCARRED

For­tu­nately, Pol­lack’s two daugh­ters were not scarred by their ex­pe­ri­ence in state care. The older of the two, who is now pre­par­ing to do her Caribbean Sec­ondary Ed­u­ca­tion Cer­tifi­cate ex­am­i­na­tions at a tra­di­tional high school in Kingston, said her time spent at the chil­dren’s home and later in foster care was ac­tu­ally

pos­i­tive.

“Some­times when I look back at it, I think it prob­a­bly shaped me into who I am now; you know, in terms of how I speak and how I get along with oth­ers, be­cause I have good com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills,” said the 16-year-old who wants to be­come a neu­ro­sur­geon or a car­di­ol­o­gist.

De­spite rais­ing them in a tough in­ner-city com­mu­nity where it is easy to lose fo­cus, Pol­lack said they have both re­mained stead­fast and de­ter­mined.

“They make me proud, just to know that I am their fa­ther and they hold their heads up. As school over, it’s home and I don’t have to tell them a lot of these things,” he said.

“I hope the best for them to be­come what they de­sire. Any­thing them de­cide is good for me. I just want to make sure they make the right de­ci­sion.”

With Novem­ber be­ing Par­ent Month, the proud fa­ther is en­cour­ag­ing par­ents to in­vest in their chil­dren in­stead of the “glitz and glam­our”, which are tem­po­rary.

“My main ad­vice for par­ents is just to be there for their child, no mat­ter what, and to give them the proper guid­ance and pro­tec­tion that they need, be­cause I am telling you, it’s not want they want it, they need it,” ad­vised Pol­lack.

The great­est chal­lenge is fi­nan­cial. To give them lunch money to go school is a ma­jor role. You have to try to make sure that that is there ev­ery day be­cause you don’t want them to stop from school.

Evon Pol­lack re­unites with his daugh­ters who were placed in the care of the State.

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