Portia warns deadbeat dads

Jamaica Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller Tuesday issued a stern warning to absentee fathers who do not support their children to fulfil their responsibility.

She noted that her administration would weigh in to ensure that children receive the financial assistance to which they are entitled from their dads.

Mrs. Simpson Miller was speaking at the finals of the Child Development Agency’s ‘Family is Love’ art exhibition and awards ceremony in St. Andrew.

She said the high incidence of absenteeism among fathers was damaging family life in Jamaica. While commending those dads who take an active interest in their children and impart good values and attitudes to them, the Prime Minister said neglectful men should shoulder their responsibility and support their children financially and emotionally.

The Prime Minister pointed out that local studies indicate that the lack of a father figure in the home was directly related to dysfunctional family life and was associated with many social ills.

She added that children who grew up in broken homes tended to exhibit antisocial behaviours and delinquency, and were more prone to depression than those who grew up with their fathers.

Mrs. Simpson Miller praised the CDA for the family-oriented emphasis which influenced many of its policies and programmes. She said the recent public campaign to promote foster care was part of an overall thrust to encourage greater at-home, rather than institutional, care. She stressed that children should be reared in homes where they are nurtured by loving parents and caregivers, adding that institutional care should be a last resort.

Since 2004, over 1,000 wards who were formerly in children’s homes have been placed in foster care.