Rodje Malcolm, executive director of Jamaicans for Justice, has raised serious concerns about the gender bias within state-care facilities, pointing out that more effort is placed on ensuring that girls are placed in foster care families while boys are more likely to be sent to institutions.
Speaking on Thursday at a forum on Safety and Justice for Jamaican Children, Malcolm noted that a wide gap remained between the number of children who are placed in state care compared to the number placed with foster families. He disclosed that 2017, in particular, showed that 46.6 per cent of children were placed in institutions, while 23.2 per cent were placed in foster care families.
“What we are also finding is that gender is impacting institutionalisation. Boys and girls have roughly entered state care at the same rate, and it is roughly equitable. However, we are finding that gender is impacting where they get placed,” he declared.
“So, on average, boys were 12 per cent more likely to be sent to a children’s home – the most obvious example of an institution – while girls were 12 per cent less likely … . So while there are fewer boys in care, there are more boys in children’s homes,” the executive director continued.
Malcolm added: “Girls were 10 per cent more likely to be placed in foster families than homes, and so institutionalisation and gender interact, and, therefore, we have to be cognisant of that.”
He also pointed out that the justice system would more likely give girls supervision orders over boys, a trend that he said should be monitored and curtailed.