THE Take a Child Home for the Holidays (TACH) programme has seen a dip in the number of applications over a three-year period.
The programme run by the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) allows people 25 years and older with a suitable home to accommodate children ages 13 to 18 years from residential childcare facilities during the Christmas season. It was halted in 2020 and 2021 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
It resumed with 81 applications for 2022, while there were 150 applications in 2019 and 165 in 2018.
According to CPFSA Chief Executive Officer Rosalee Gage Grey, during the break, the Grant a Wish Programme was developed in 2020 to give people the opportunity to offer gifts from the wish lists of children in State care.
“As COVID-19 restrictions have been eased across the island we decided to bring back the Take a Child Home programme last year, and that programme has been running concurrently with our Grant a Wish Programme,” she told the Jamaica Observer.
“It was our first time having multiple programmes geared towards spreading cheer to our children in care, so we believe that it is only natural that members of the public would choose to participate in the programme that they can best accommodate this season, especially as we are faced with the after-effects of a pandemic,” she said.
Responding to the drop in numbers, Gage Grey said, “While some persons may have the ease of resources to host a child/children in care for the holidays, others may feel that their contribution would be more impactful through granting wishes to various children across the island.”
At the same time, she noted that the children have expressed positive feedback from the programme in 2022, as they look forward to being placed with warm and loving families each year.
“The children who remain in residence at our childcare facilities are usually exposed to numerous treats and events during the season but there is nothing quite like spending Christmas in an intimate, familial setting â€” and the children who participate in this programme are always excited to do just that,” she said.
Through the application process for the TACH programme, the host parent or family would state whether they would like to accommodate the child or children for a few days or a few weeks.
Once the application process has been completed and a home assessment and the necessary interviews have been done by CPFSA officers, the children are then allowed to go home with the host family for the period.