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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2015 Jamaica: Evaluation of the RJPSI Project

Executive summary

Reducing the Juvenile Population in State-supported Institutions (RJPSI) in Jamaica Project Evaluation

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The Convention on the Rights of the Child and an array of other international agreements are clear that the deprivation of liberty should be a measure of last resort for the care and rehabilitation of children who come into contact with the law. The Jamaican Government’s commitment to these agreements is reflected in key documents such as the Child Care and Protection Act and the Medium Term Socio-Economic Framework 2012-2015.

As of December 2011, 6,243 Jamaican children were officially wards of the state.  Of this number 2,771 were accommodated in 59 residential child care facilities (RCCFs) and four juvenile correctional centres. As a result of conditions before and during their institutionalization, many wards of the state face significant emotional and mental health challenges which go undetected or untreated.

In December 2012, the European Union through its European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), and UNICEF Jamaica agreed to jointly support an effort to improve the capacity of the Government’s Justice and Child Care systems to provide alternatives to custodial care for boys and girls who come into contact with the law.

The grant agreement for the “Reducing the Juvenile Population in State-supported Institutions” (RJSPI) project, valued at €385,562 (US$233,959/JM$21,196,685), was signed on December 20, 2012 and scheduled to end on December 14, 2014.  It was extended to July 2015, to allow for the completion of specific deliverables.  The Government of Jamaica implementing partners were the Child Development Agency (Ministry of Youth and Culture), Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (Ministry of Health), Ministry of Justice and the Department of Correctional Services (Ministry of National Security).


The overall objective of the evaluation was to assess the operational logic of the mobile mental health service (the Smiles Mobile) and the National Child Diversion Programme and to determine the extent to which expected results were realized in light of the planned outcomes.  The evaluation also assessed the relevance of the RJPSI to the sector and intended beneficiaries; the effectiveness and efficiency of implementation of activities under both components of the project. The sustainability of the project was also examined as these pilot activities were intended to be ‘rolled out’ as government programmes. Specifically the assessment sought to:

  1. Document the operational processes and lessons learned in the execution of both pilot projects
  2. Assess performance in terms of shared responsibility among stakeholders, accountability and appropriateness of design and provide recommendations for improving same
  3. Recommend changes in strategy and process that should be incorporated to effect the desired long-term outcomes of the projects
  4. Develop a sustainability plan with practical strategies to support the project’s transition into the formal structures of Child Development Agency, Department of Correctional Services, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Justice without external funding.


The End-of-project Evaluation of the RJPSI Project was undertaken over a sixteen week period.  It included a desk review, stakeholder consultations and an analysis phase.  The evaluation examined the operational processes and stakeholder relationships, as well as the performance of the project.  This Final Evaluation Report and Sustainability Plan provides an assessment of the project’s performance, strategies for the institutionalization of the project’s components and monitoring and evaluation system for the sustainability of the project’s activities.

Limited access to beneficiaries and their case files, ethical considerations in interviewing the beneficiaries, in addition to the time period in which the evaluation was set did not allow for primary quantitative data collection. It was therefore determined that sufficient project monitoring data existed to allow the evaluator to make an assessment of results achieved.

The desk review provided context and an introduction to known outcomes and factors. It involved the review of UNICEF reports, Smiles Mobile reports, policy documents and literature on approaches and experiences of other countries. These reports (see Appendix 4) provided quantitative data for analysis of trends. Insufficient disaggregation of totals throughout project reports limited the use of gender and age in analyses. This informed the approaches employed in the various stakeholder consultations. 

Findings and Conclusions:

Main Conclusions

  1. The high incidence of mental health challenges of wards points to the urgent need to prioritize coordinated interventions of facilities, families and communities in order to achieve successful rehabilitation and re-integration of wards.
  2. Capacity of the child protection system was strengthened to provide improved services by RCCF and JCC caregivers, JCF officers and restorative justice facilitators. 
  3. New procedures and processes introduced by the project (improved record-keeping, standard operating procedures, method of service) highlighted the need for improved efficiencies and did address some of these e.g. the new intake form which is to be used by all facilities.
  4. The Government of Jamaica has committed to sustain and expand the project activities initiated by the RJPSI. However, the government does not have the capacity to unilaterally expand mobile mental health services island-wide. The broad cross section of skill sets, the high number of facilities, the variety of challenges facing children in state institutions and a lack of financial resources will make it challenging for the government to expand even to a few more parishes without substantial support.


  1. Review of Intake, Record Sharing and File Maintenance Procedures -
    Expansion of services to children will place additional pressure on the records system. A review would enable responsible agencies to identify gaps in services, rectify existing issues and pre-empt possible challenges for expansion and child protection in general.
  2. Broaden the Partner Base -
    Civil society organizations (CSOs) can play a key role in the success of the child care and protection system.  Non-governmental organizations such as the Dispute Resolution Foundation, Young Men’s Christian Association and Children First may be some of the CSOs approached as they already provide non-custodial, community-based rehabilitation services for children in several parishes and have a good working relationship with the GOJ and UNICEF.
  3. Expand the CDA Case Management System -
    The case management system will strengthen the capacity of the CDA, as well as other agencies that offer services to children.  The plan to actively promote the establishment of a network of agencies for effective case management should be carefully executed and given top priority.
  4. Explore New Fund Raising Strategies -
    Mental health services are receiving increasing attention from international development partners.  A necessary and strategic move should be to seek funding support for inter-agency mental health interventions as against individual agency initiatives.

Lessons Learned:

Support should not be given in future to programmes with pending policy approvals – as was the case with the National Child Diversion Programme – where programme commencement is dependent on national policy approval.

  1. A broad cross-section of skill sets is required to offer effective mental health services to children. The pilot project provided an opportunity for officers in the field to refine their understanding of the necessary skills for the provision of mobile mental health services.
  2. Stakeholders at all levels, including the beneficiaries, must be aware of project activities and objectives. Caregivers whose facilities were served by the Smiles Mobile needed more in-depth briefing to better understand the purpose of the project and their expected roles.
  3. Effective partnerships rely on easy access to information related to processes. When partners did not have access to required information, this had a negative impact on project efficiency.

Full report in PDF

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Report information




Child Protection - Juvenile Justice



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