Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 23rd 2013 Contents A7
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After a widely-lauded stint as Minister of
National Diversity and Social Integration, Clifton
De Coteau was, perhaps surprisingly, moved from
the ministry he had forged a vision for, as well
as developing strong links with the arts and her-
itage communities, and given a new role as Min-
ister of Gender, Youth and Child Development in
last month s Cabinet reshuffle.
In an e-mail interview with the T&T Guardian,
De Coteau explained what he will bring to his new
role and why his background and credentials make
him suitable for the position.
What's become of the gender policy?
The policy is being considered by the Cabinet.
What will be your priorities as minister?
The Government s social transformational agenda
as it pertains to the mandate of the ministry, focus-
ing largely on youth and child development.
The platform has been laid for the establishment
of the National Youth Commission, a strategy to
support youth in especially challenging circum-
stances (youth at risk), the proclamation of the
Children Act, the Children s Authority Act and the
Children s Community Residences, Foster Care and
Nurseries Act, 2000.
We will be rolling out the national parenting
programme and developing the national parenting
policy which was approved by the Cabinet.
We will implement a modernisation programme
for children s community residences in Trinidad.
We will establish a children s registry, imple-
menting a national strategy for child rights and
establishing our autistic support centre to provide
services that support the development of autistic
children. We will be increasing access to psychosocial
counselling and support services for vulnerable
children and adolescents in remote and depressed
Do you have a background in gender issues?
Yes, as a government minister and educator with
De Coteau on new ministerial portfolio:
A volunteer throws a bag of garbage on a truck after young people cleaned up
Rustville Beach, Guayaguayare, as part of the International Coastal Clean-up.
The clean-up was organised by National Energy Corporation and its parent
company the National Gas Company. PHOTO: ALANA SURAJ
years of experience in helping to shape and develop
young people (sic) minds and lives as well as my
experience working with families and communities,
I am of the view that I am well versed in gender
What's your opinion of the current status quo re
I am guided by the Constitution of T&T. The
Constitution provides for equality of treatment for
Institutional arrangements are put in place to
ensure that the rights of citizens are upheld.
Do you think a man is the best person for the
job? I see a female minister of state has been ap-
pointed alongside you.
The Prime Minister has indicated that ministers
are appointed in a ministry based on their skills
and competencies to achieve the desired outcomes.
Further, gender speaks to male and female there-
fore equality exists in having both a male and
female in the appointment of this ministry.
What is your position on decriminalising homo-
I am guided by the law.
Any comment on the under-resourcing of the
As I indicated previously, the Government is
committed to the full operationalisation of the
Children s Authority.
Cabinet appointed a committee to look at the
operationalisation of the authority.
The authority has a strategic plan which was
developed in 2012 and resources have been allocated
according to its annual projections, just as with
The authority has been allocated $18,730,000
towards recurrent and $5,000,000 towards its
development programme expenditure for 2013.
Recently the Cabinet approved the organisational
structure of the authority, thus it enables the
authority to build capacity. The authority has adver-
tised the positions and they are currently in the
process of filling them.
Additionally, an agreement was made between
the Children s Authority and the North Central
Regional Health Authority for an assessment centre
to be established at the Eric Williams Medical Sci-
The ministry will commence construction of
two assessment centres in Chaguanas and Ste
Madeleine, respectively, in fiscal year 2013/ 2014.
The ministry continues to provide support to
the authority in advancing the legislations to enable
it to be fully operationalised.
I am well versed
in gender issues
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