Tue | Aug 20, 2019

Sam Sharpe Diagnostic Centre to open next month

Published:Wednesday | May 22, 2019 | 12:27 AMAdrian Frater/News Editor

Western Bureau:

The new J$62-million Sam Sharpe Diagnostic and Early Intervention Centre, which has been established to assist at-risk youth, will be officially commissioned into service on Monday, June 3, with three diagnostic classrooms, an assessment room, a multi-purpose auditorium and supporting amenities.

The centre, which will feature specialised staff, was constructed last year. However, according to the college’s administrator, the delay in opening the facility was because of the time needed for staff recruitment.

“Among the staff are a clinical psychologist and a specialist nurse who will be required to engage children, not just for medical purposes, but to give advice on health and wellness,” a release from the college stated. “Also in the staff complement are a special early childhood educator, a physiotherapist, and a teacher’s aide.”

According to Dr Christene Pinnock, lecturer in the Special Education Department at the Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College, the full range of services will not start on June 3, but will be gradually phased in.

“We will be offering screening, diagnosis and early intervention, starting with school-age children from early childhood to primary level and child agencies, based on their recommendations,” said Pinnock. “There is the option of offering services to older students at a later stage.”

Commenting on the need for diagnostic service among the youth population in the immediate environs of the college, which is located in the Granville community, Pinnock said that their offerings will start in that location and then extended to other areas.

“We’re starting with the Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College community and will gradually expand the services throughout western Jamaica, based on a needs assessment and the demand,” said Pinnock. “This will entail collaboration with stakeholders, including the Ministry of Education and child-service agencies.”

To access the services, parents or guardians of at-risk children will need a referral from a medical professional and complete a walk-in registration at the college.

“The centre is a public facility offering its services to other public agencies. It has the capacity to offer early and general intervention services to 30 to 40 children. These interventions, however, are short-term because the objective behind this initiative is for us to intervene and then reintegrate the students into the mainstream school environment,” said Pinnock.

“It’s a diagnostic and early intervention centre for the specific purpose of offering the services mentioned, and students who have been referred will not be enrolled in the facility for more than eight weeks. Thereafter, they will be reintegrated, as it is expected that they will be better able to cope,” added Pinnock.