Government is moving to start a special child maintenance fund, four months after announcing its establishment.
In a resolution to be led by Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, the Freundel Stuart Administration will ask Parliament to approve the establishment of the mechanism to help individuals whose support via the magistrate’s court was delayed.
“The Office of the Attorney General is seeking the sum of $400,000 to supplement the Estimates of Expenditure … to establish a fund for the payment of maintenance to applicants whose child support payments through the court system have been delayed,” the addendum to the resolution, which is on the Order Paper for next Tuesday’s sitting of the House of Assembly.
In his 2012 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals, delivered in the Lower House on the evening of June 26, 2012, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler announced the decision to start the single parent child support fund, saying that “for some time now the very troubling issue of the non-payment of child support by delinquent parents has attracted public attention as much as it has caused consternation among hundreds of single parents across the country”.
“Indeed, Sir, this situation has reached a particularly unsettling stage where on a weekly basis several parents who have ventured into the various magistrates’ courts to collect payments have had to leave empty-handed as these payments have not been made and court marshals have been unable to locate the delinquent parent,” Sinckler said.
“The downside of this, Sir, is that several of the nation’s children are then left to struggle without basic amenities and supplies necessary for a meaningful existence.
“While this deep sociological issue bears extensive research and study to understand the true parameters of its impact on society, it is evident that its presence and persistence is causing major social dislocation among a particularly vulnerable segment of the country’s population,” he added.
The minister said while Government was not condoning “delinquent parents” it was “satisfied that this matter has reached such an unhealthy state that lack of intervention by Government at this stage will lead to the emergence of a dangerous set of circumstances that will work to undermine the household fabric of the society”.
The new fund will be administered in consultation with the magistrates courts, and will see each child who qualified receiving no more than $50 “unless in extenuating circumstances where an assessment is made by a social worker”.
Applicants will be “entitled to apply for payment from this maintenance fund within one month of defaulting parents not adhering to the court order to pay child support”. (SC)