By GYNNIE KERO
THE National Office of Child and Family Services is concerned about the increase in the number of children loitering in public places, and needs proper funding to address the problem, an official says.
Acting chief executive officer Simon Yanis told The National that the problem existed not only in Port Moresby but also in Lae, Mt Hagen, Kokopo and Goroka.
He has submitted a budget of K13 million for the 2020 National Budget to be tabled in Parliament this month.
“It worries me when I drive past or come across these kids at traffic lights. They are everywhere (in Port Moresby), Waigani, Boroko, Downtown,” he said.
“In Mt Hagen, you see them at the market. In Goroka you see them at the World Trade Centre (Kakaruk market).
“This office is a new agency of the Ministry of Religion, Youth and Community Development.
“The old Child Welfare Act did not cater or can address some of the concerns raised today.
“After that Act was reformed, we now have the Lukautim Pikinini Act 2015.
“In the past five years, we have progressed with the new law (Lukautim Pikinini Act 2015).
“We have trained child protection officers in all provinces expect Wewak and Vanimo.
“We have arranged home care venues for processing of the children.
“But we need funding.”
Yanis classed street kids in Port Moresby as those selling items, those hanging around with their peers and those who are orphans.
He stressed that he needed money to help his office effectively address the situation.
“To talk to the kids and get them off the street, I need money to buy stuff for them so they get comfortable before I (or my officers) can talk to them, get more information, process them at our home care centre before we can integrate them back into the communities.
“These children have potential to be somebody in future.”
He said for children who had parents, “we will have the parents sign agreements not to let their children back onto the streets”.
“If they do not keep to the agreement, parents will be prosecuted.
“For orphans, they will have to be taken to court to be declared and then protected by the State until they reach the age of 18.”
By GYNNIE KERO