Government / Public Policy

Social welfare dept proposing mandatory screening for childcare workers and daycare operators [NSTTV]

KUALA LUMPUR: The Social Welfare Department (JKM) will discuss with the Home Ministry to make it mandatory for candidates who wish to work in childcare centres to undergo security screening to reduce child abuse cases.

Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said the candidates, along with daycare operators will also be required to undergo psychometric tests, including mental health and career interest tendencies assessment to ensure they are capable of managing children.

Aside from the proposal, Nancy added that the ministry through the department had outlined several improvements to reduce child abuse cases in the country.

"Aside from making mandatory security screening, JKM's Children Development Department will reorganise the placement of enforcement officers in each district to focus and monitor enforcement tasks in childcare and daycare centres.

"At the same time, we will also tighten the guidelines for the installation of closed-circuit television camera (CCTV) in the centres and ensure there are no blind spots in the coverage, except for private areas like the toilets or changing rooms," she said during minister's question time in Dewan Rakyat, today.

Nancy said this in response to Jimmy Puah Wee Tse (PH-Tebrau) on measures taken by the government to reduce the increasing number of child abuse cases in Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Nancy said a different approach, however, was needed to tackle child abuse cases that happen under family care as the ministry has no direct control or power to meddle in such cases.

"While JKM has direct control over childcare and daycare centres through established laws and regulations, abuse cases that happen within families go beyond the jurisdiction and capabilities of the ministry.

"The ministry's approach to protect and assist child abuse victims is to prioritise all forms of family-based care and to turn to institutional centre as the last resort.

"However, the top priority for child placement care after an abuse case is with the biological parents and if the parents are the abusers, we will place them under the care of extended family members," she said.

She added that the ministry is also in the process of improving the criteria for caregivers for family-based care as most abuse cases happen under family care.

"Most child abuse cases happen under family care, instead of childcare or daycare centres. It is easier (for the ministry) to take legal action if it happens in childcare or daycare centres.

"However, if it happens under family care, it is ultimately up to the court whether there is legal action taken.

"Hence, the ministry is improving the criteria for caregivers or suitable individuals to reduce the risk of child abuse cases."

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