Officers working within the Department of Probation and Child Protection Services in St. Kitts and Nevis are tasked with a number of responsibilities aimed at protecting children and safeguarding their welfare.

“The role of a child protection officer is basically to investigate reported matters of child abuse and neglect, and suspected cases of course of child abuse and neglect. We do not investigate criminal offences, and that is one of the things that we need to make sure that people understand,” said Acting Director of the Department of Probation and Child Protection Services, Gerald Connor, on the ‘Working for You” programme Wednesday. “That is why we work closely with the Special Victims Unit, who are the police who investigates pending or matters of criminal intent that might be coming out of these situations.”

He noted that as child protection officers, they receive the reports and then do their investigations, adding that they are also tasked with ensuring homes are safe for children to live in.

“Our job, as long as we realize that this home is not conducive for that child, is to then get that child to a place of safety. Our job is not to break up families, our job is to make sure that families become stable and wholesome for the return of that child,” he said. “Reintegration is something that we always look at and we try our best to work with the parents of those children and family members to bring the homes back to a stable environment for the return of that child.”

Acting Director Connor also highlighted the foster care programme that the Department currently manages.

“We have about 60 [plus] foster homes that are available and we actually have about 60 [plus] foster children presently. The child protection officers work along with those foster parents as they tend to assist where needs be when we have to remove a child from a particular home or environment,” he said.

Equally important are the probation officers who deal with juveniles in conflict with the law, he explained, “children who are deemed to be going down the wrong path. We work also with persons who are placed on probation.”