Thu | Jun 4, 2020

Philippa Davies | You can’t go to Government for love

Published:Friday | August 16, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Firefighters examine the scorched interior of the Methodist Church-operated Jamaica National Children’s Home, which was destroyed by fire on Friday, August 9. No one was injured in the blaze.
Philippa Davies

Yet another fire at a children’s home. Thankfully, there were no deaths, but definitely more trauma, dislocation, and an estimated $150 million in property and possessions lost. But is the rebuilding of a zinc-and-concrete infrastructure the best one could offer to restore the lives of hurting children?

No, it isn’t. The best we could do has never been done. If that were so, we would not have children’s homes as a fixture in our culture and annual Budget.

Where were the wailing sirens of fire trucks, the outpouring of community concern, the prime ministerial tweets of commitment to rebuild, and the deep pockets of corporate Jamaica when the most important infrastructure for the health and wealth of a child went up in flames?

Where was the rush to save lives when the most cost-effective relationship and efficient means to protect and nurture children – a faithful and loving father and mother – burnt to the ground?

Where were we when the man and woman enjoyed the intimacy but fled the responsibility after? When the father and mother decided not to bother to learn and endure the rewarding struggle of raising their offspring to adulthood? When the father and/or mother decided to keep the preferred child but cast off the undesired? The father and mother who wanted to keep their children but needed some help – to fix the kitchen or the bathroom, find work, get counselling, understand child development. Where were we all, their neighbours and fellow citizens?

proven fact

Here is the simple, proven fact: You can’t go to Government for love. Children do best when raised by their married biological father and mother in a low-conflict nurturing home. This statement is grounded in local and international evidence from biology, social sciences, economics, public health, and history, among other studied research.

Children’s homes are neither the ideal nor the long-term solution for the neglect of children. Sustained private and public effort to prepare, invest in, and build up the families of origin of all Jamaica’s children is the better path to achieving Vision 2030.

Any society desiring to become the place of choice to raise families has to prioritise establishing the firm foundation of stable family life – fathers and mothers committed to each other and jointly dedicated to the well-being of the children of their union.

Avoiding stable family life is voiding a stable national future. We have to choose. #MarriageMattersJamaica.

Philippa Davies is a foster mother and mentor of children in state care. Email feedback to and