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Opening Ceremony of ESP Assessment Centre & Multi-Purpose Facility

Hon. Shahine Robinson

Minister of Labour and Social Security,
Opening Ceremony of ESP Assessment Centre & Multi-Purpose Facility 
Friday, March 3, 2017 @10:00 am @ 95 Hanover Street, Kingston

Ladies and gentlemen, parents and students, I am thankful for the opportunity to share in this official opening and dedication of the Assessment Centre and Multi-Purpose Facility of the Early Stimulation Programme (ESP).
I am particularly pleased with this new development, as the “ESP babies” and Team Members are becoming dear to my heart. 
Ladies and gentlemen, as you look around, you can see this new building is beautifully architectured and solidly constructed. We will be touring the facilities shortly, but outside we see evidence of green parking and the use of vegetation and environmentally-friendly drainage.The inner tiled courtyard entices us inside to a modern Administrative Block and Clinic, comprising:
  • Three Assessment Rooms with bathrooms
  • Speech Therapy Room
  • Physiotherapy Room
  • Specialized Sensory Room and Play Area
  • Retrofitted Bathrooms for Physically-Challenged Clients
  • Spacious Conference Room, Receptionist and Waiting Areas
  • A sizeable Director’ Office and  roomy Filing Facility
  • Fashionable Cubicles for Social Workers and Early Childhood Practitioners
  • Dedicated Sick Bay & Nurse Station
I am so excited about this new facility that I am tempted to move in with the ESP Staff, whom I know are delighted to be in this pleasant environment.
But, ladies and gentlemen - apart from its pleasing lines and shapes - this modern Centre represents and provides a new lease on life for children with disabilities whose wellbeing and welfare will be further enhanced. The ESP currently provides care and support to over 1,500 children with disabilities islandwide - and the services are available to persons from all strata of society.  .
Now – with upgraded physical facilities - the ESP can do more for its clientele
 through an expansion of professional assessment and intervention services. There will be  improved administration of  the range of Home-Based visits; Specialised Early Childhood Education; Parenting workshops and counselling, Parent Support Groups, placement of children and the provision of resources to other agencies serving young children with disabilities.
The ESP is now positioned to engage a wider corps of specialized professionals, including developmental psychologists, speech therapists and occupational therapists.
And, over the longer term, the aim is for regional intervention centres which  will help to reduce the institutionalization of young children with developmental disabilities across the island.  
Ladies and gentlemen, research has shown that between the age of  0-6 years, activities that occur within a child’s environment greatly influence that child’s future potential.  
Therefore for children with disabilities, early intervention can set the foundation for better developmental behavior. In fact, from an economic perspective, evidence-based studies show that children with disabilities who receive proper care and support during the early stages have a greater chance of becoming healthier and productive adults with stable employment outcomes. 
Ladies and gentlemen, we all know that the care capital of a society can be measured in its treatment of its most vulnerable citizens – i.e. its children, persons with disabilities and senior citizens. 
At the Ministry, we are seeking to make inclusion and empowerment of the vulnerable a reality through this investment here at the ESP. 
And we are working to actualize the right of every Jamaican with disabilities to develop to maximum potential as mandated by our Disability Act.   
This vision would not have been possible, ladies and gentlemen, without our valued partner, the Inter-American Development Bank. The IDB provided financing for this Multi-Purpose Project in the sum of approximately Eighty-Seven Million Dollars [$86,928,725.30] under the Integrated Social Protection and Labour Programme. 
Like us, the IDB is committed to improving human capital and labour market out
comes for our people  by enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of key social protection programme. Join me in giving the IDB a well-deserved round of applause (applause). 
For, as I stated earlier, this ESP Facility represents social protection  in that we are:
Increasing access and coverage of vulnerable population groups
Expanding the level of participation in the society
Empowering those who need to realize their fullest potential and make valuable contribution to society
In addition to the IDB, I wish to thank our other partners associated with making this project a reality today. We recognize the efforts of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund for the technical management oversight they provided, and contractors (Marshall Constructions Company who worked hard to deliver this Multi-Purpose Centre within budget.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is a reflection of what is possible when the Government and private sector combine efforts toward the achievement of a shared goal.It also demonstrates how public-private sector partnership can lead to greater efficiency in the delivery of services to vulnerable persons within the society, specifically to improving the educational and learning outcomes for children with disabilities.
As I close, I say special thanks to the dedicated staff, teachers and social workers of the ESP who work so tirelessly on behalf of these children with disabilities; who care for, raise and tutor them/
I laud the parents and caregivers; their extended families and communities. 
I thank, too, our supporting neighbours from the National Land Agency, the Church Community, the Gleaner Company and other corporate citizens.
Ladies and gentlemen, parents and students, as the Ministry continues to serve children with special needs and their families, our aim is to build on the foundation of this Assessment Centre and Multi-Purpose Facility and strengthen the pillars of accessibility and range.
For, in serving our community of persons with different abilities, we can achieve a desired society which is inclusive, participatory and empowering for all. 
Thank you and continue to have a good morning.

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