Editorial: Child Protection Working Group

Kimberly Dort Brown

Interim Director Court of Guardianship,
Ministry of Justice
Member CPWG

Introduction to the Child Protection Working Group
The Child Protection Working Group (CPWG) is an inter-ministerial group, with representatives from the Ministries of Justice, Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (ECYS) and Public Health, Social Development and Labour (VSA). With the technical support of UNICEF Netherlands, the CPWG was formed in September 2019 to oversee the process of establishing a permanent multi-stakeholder child protection platform.

What do we do?                                          
The goal of the CPWG is to ensure that the formal and informal community-based child protection mechanisms on Sint Maarten are strengthened, to better meet the protection and safety needs of our children in their daily lives, as well as before, during and after an emergency.

Lessons of Irma and Maria
Based on the experiences during and after hurricanes Irma and Maria in September of 2017, the need for a comprehensive disaster preparedness plan that focuses on child protection in emergencies became extremely evident. Planning for a disaster is necessary, as it allows direct and well thought out interventions after the crisis has passed, making recovery faster and smoother. It also mitigates the hardship that disasters bring to the children and the families that we serve, as well as to the professionals that work with children.

Preparedness plans
All professionals working with families and children should promote the importance of having a Family Disaster Preparedness plan. The plan should include what each family member, including children, should do in case of an emergency or disaster. Additionally, all departments, organizations and professionals must have an emergency preparedness plan. 

Be prepared, make an emergency plan today and keep each other safe

From mitigation to recovery
Mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery are the key elements of a successful plan. Mitigation involves preventive measures to reduce vulnerabilities. Preparedness builds capabilities to manage the impact of hazards and includes drills and exercises, education, and stockpiling supplies. A response is an action to reduce adverse actions during the disaster. Recovery involves actions to restore areas affected by the disaster. 

Second edition
This second edition of the Growing Up Safe St. Maarten Magazine focuses on emergency preparedness and child protection during and after emergencies. Some of the topics covered include: preparing a child for a disaster, school safety and emergency plans and the Return to Happiness project. 

This magazine will continue to be one of the tools in our arsenal to get information about child protection, well-being and safety to all professionals working with children on Sint Maarten, as well as the general public. We encourage you to read it thoroughly and hope that you enjoy this issue. As the Child Protection Working Group, we also look forward to engaging with many of you in the not too distant future, as we work more diligently towards making Sint Maarten a safe place for our children to grow and thrive.