I intend to engage primary and high schools about ways to track Barrel Children who enter school and provide the necessary therapeutic and other services to the most at-risk students.
Barrel Children who are left behind face a barrage of risk factors, including physical and psychological risk factors. Our goal is to increase protective factors in Barrel Children; while decreasing risk factors, so that they can thrive.
Evidence-based recommendations, include:
Crawford-Brown and Rattray (2001) list the child’s inherent temperament as a protective factor against separation. They also list ways that protective factors can be increase in children left behind. For the pre-emigration phase, they recommend pre-emigration counseling for children left behind. They also recommend educational material placed in embassies so parents can know ways of staying in contact with children. It is also recommended that as part of the emigration process, parents are educated about the developmental stages of children and how separation can disrupt that. They also recommend that the government develop and expand parenting education programs so that parents know the risks associated with leaving children behind.
Crawford-Brown and Rattray (2001) also recommend that countries like Jamaica should develop a system whereby the country is notified of where Barrel Children are living and develop preventative programs to address the needs of these children and families. They (2001) further recommend that children who may be at risk for emotional and behavioral problems be identified and provided with the necessary help.
In the reunification stage it is critical that children are prepped before going to live in another country with the parents. According to Crawford-Brown and Rattray (2001), it is important that children know what to expect when going to a new country to join parents and they should also be counseled and educated about what problems may surface as they begin to integrate into a new society and family. Furthermore, they assert (2001), “[Learning material] should be presented in age appropriate formats in manuals, books, and videotapes” (Crawford-Brown and Rattray, 2001),
The host country should also work to promote protective factors in the immigrant child. Ways of doing this, according to Crawford-Brown and Rattray (2001), include orientation programs. They (2001) believe that West Indian social clubs and churches should be utilized in developing, implementing and maintaining these strategies. Crawford-Brown and Rattray (2001), highlight a number of ways that reunification can be facilitated. They (2001) point to showing parents how to maintain contact with children through technology. In addition, they 2001) believe that it is important for there to be programs addressing language barriers and helping the newly arrived child navigate host country’s educational system. They (2001) also recommend therapy for these children and families. Crawford-Brown and Rattray (2001) also recommend parenting workshops for parents of children left behind.
I intend to help Barrel Children express themselves through various art mediums--particularly poetry and stories about their feelings around their absent parents. I will also encourage people who have had experience being Barrel Children to voice their stories. I also intend to speak about issues around Barrel Children at various poetry readings.
Fiction and poetry books about Barrel Children include:
Drown (Short Stories); and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
by Junot Diaz
Krik?Krik! (Short Stories); Breath, Eyes, Memory (Novel); The Farming of Bones (Novel); Behind the Mountains (Novel); The Dew Breaker (Novel-in-Short Stories); Brother, I'm Dying (Memoir), by Edwidge Danticat
Lucy (Novel) by Jamaica Kincaid
Barrel Children (poems) by Rayon Lennon
River Woman (a novel) by Donna Hemans
The Poetry of Derek Walcott
It is my view that Barrel Parents are not bad parents. They have made a decision to migrate to make a better life for their children. We want to partner with parents to provide them with resources so that their children are properly cared for, when the parents are gone. This includes informing parents of the importance of continuing to communicate with their children; and for the parents to make suitable living arrangements for the child when in another country.
I recognize that there are already organizations and people out there working to solve this crisis. It is my aim to work with others--including the government of Jamaica--to improve the lives of Barrel Children.
Here are few child development agencies operating in Jamaica.
Child Development Agency.
Angels of Love Jamaica
Bernard Van Leer Foundation
Boys Town Vocational Training Center
Children's Coalition of Jamaica