A new cottage for boys is opening on the site of the Frances Bodden Home in Lower Valley, filling an “urgent need” for youngsters in care.
The home is the culmination of a massive community effort, with all the labor, equipment and expertise on the $500,000 project donated.
The cottage will provide accommodation to boys who are taken into care because of abuse or neglect.
Garth Arch, chairman of the CAYS Foundation board, which runs the home, said it would fill a “void in the continuum of care for our youth.”
Mr. Arch said the need for the facility was evident.
The Bonaventure Boys Home in West Bay is designed for boys on Youth Rehabilitation Orders, taken into care because of their offending or behavior. The Frances Bodden Home is intended for girls, and the Nadine Andreas Residential Foster Home is for children under 12.
Until now there has been no facility for older boys in care for their own protection.
Some are currently housed in the girls home on the same site at Lower Valley. Five other boys are in temporary situations on a waiting list to go to the new home.
Dorine Whittaker, chief officer in the Ministry of Community Affairs, said the aim in most cases is for children taken into care to be returned to their parents after a few months. In more serious cases of neglect or abuse, she said, social workers look to find family members or foster parents to look after the children.
“We try to work with parents as much as possible. This facility should be our last resort,” she said. “We don’t want this to be full all the time.”
She said the aim is for children to spend just a few months in the home and then move on to more permanent accommodation.
Mr. Arch said the CAYS Foundation had gone out to the community to raise money for the home.
“It was quite evident that there was a gap where there was a need for a facility for boys in care for their own protection. At the time we started this, the government was in the midst of the financial crisis and the decision the board made was that we couldn’t wait. We reached out to the private sector and the response was amazing. Nobody said no,” he told the Cayman Compass.
John Doak Architecture designed the home, Arch and Godfrey managed the build and a host of other companies provided materials and technical support. A variety of charities and community groups provided financial support.
Speaking to donors and dignitaries at the opening ceremony, Mr. Arch added, “This new building, while it is modest in size, is significant in what it represents – a community coming together for the youth of these islands.
“As you pass by this home in the years to come, know that within these walls children are growing up with love and protection, hope is being given and lives are being changed for the better, all because of the contributions that you made.”
Premier Alden McLaughlin said the opening of the home was an important step and “gives us capacity we didn’t previously have.”