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Child-care training aims to turn out professional amahs

08 March 2018

By Vir B. Lumicao

Some 300 domestic workers are targeted to become professional child carers in an upcoming free training program that will teach them the difference between child discipline and care, and possibly save them from jail.

Labor Attaché Jalilo dela Torre told The SUN that for the long term, the training would prepare the participants for the Hong Kong government’s plan to allow families to hire certified foreign caregivers.

But he said the seminar workshops, to be conducted by Next Chapters president Christina Themar, was not going to be held in cooperation with the Hong Kong government.

The child carers, like the helpers who are being trained for dementia patient care, would be able to earn TESDA certification that could qualify them for care-giving jobs, Dela Torre said.

He said the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority would assess the trainees after the program, which begins on Mar 11 and finishes in December.

The four-hour seminar-workshop will be held every second Sunday of the month at the new POLO site at Mass Mutual Building in Wanchai. The training will start with a maximum of 30 participants per session.

More than preparing domestic workers for the caregiver jobs, Dela Torre said the program was initiated because of the worrying rise in the number of domestic workers going to jail for allegedly ill-treating their young wards.

“Dumarami na kasi ang mga kababayan nating nakukulong dahil hindi maka-distinguish between child discipline and child care,” the official rued.

“Kasi nga, dahil sa cultural differences natin. Sa atin, puwede na ang palu-palo, kurot, ganyan. Dito, kapag nahuli ka sa CCTV, naku, sa kulungan ka,” he added.

Hong Kong laws consider ill treatment of children as child abuse. Several Filipinas have been jailed over the past few years for laying a hand on their wards.

Since January this year, at least three Filipinas have been charged in court with “ill-treatment or neglect of a child” and their cases are still pending resolution.

A memorandum of understanding for the professional development of child carers was signed on Feb 14 by Next Chapters president Christina Themar and welfare officer Judith Santos of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration in Hong Kong.

Labatt Dela Torre said OWWA would pay for the services of Themar, the resource person,.

He said domestic workers with child-care duties must also know what their rights are, as they learn how to take care of children professionally. He said the training program would also professionalize the domestic workers who enroll in the seminar workshop.

A training program for helpers who are taking care of persons with dementia is already being offered by the Hong Kong Jockey Club. 

Other projects lined up for OFWs are a two-Sunday free seminar on how to cope with suicidal depression to be offered by The Good Samaritans, and a planned “Know Your Rights” seminar in collaboration with the University of Hong Kong.

The seminar “Coping with Suicidal Depression and Grief” was to be held on two Sundays, Feb 25 and Mar 4 at POLO.

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