DYS, DPS work to strengthen child passenger safety

The Division of Youth Services has recently been focused on the Department of Public Safety’s Highway Safety Program to provide basic car seat safety training to all caseworkers who transport children on a daily basis under their various units/programs. 

DYS administrator Vivian Sablan said that talks about the transportation needs of clients who are removed from home for protective custody is often absent.

“We want to ensure that our caseworkers are given all the necessary training to address all components of family services,” said Sablan. “We deal with a very vulnerable population and we want to maximize the quality of these services since they are primarily for school-aged children to and from school, for those temporarily residing at the shelter, for client supervised or unsupervised visitations, court hearings and appointments.”

Sablan said this addresses a critical component to aid in fulfilling family service planning.

According to Community and Cultural Affairs Secretary Robert Hunter, the training has become a productive partnership with DPS, adding an additional layer for youth safety.

“The Division of Youth Services has such a broad responsibility to strengthen families and an increased duty to protect children and our youth. In addition to life skills, and addressing issues with child abuse and neglect, youth violence, and juvenile delinquency, we have to be sure that our personnel are given the proper training when they must intervene. We are very grateful for the training opportunity and highly recommend that parents and guardians do their part with child passenger safety and promote strategies that reduce the chances of fatal injuries,” Hunter said.

The CNMI averages 2,000 automobile crashes annually, said Public Safety Commissioner Robert A. Guerrero.

“We want to emphasize that keeping children safe from harm is everyone’s responsibility which is why our Highway Safety Program continues its outreach campaign for parents and the community. We continue to survey the CNMI’s child restraint use and have found that only 65 percent of those surveyed last year were compliant. This clearly shows that a large number of children are still unsafely transported in a motor vehicle. One way to combat this is through agency collaboration to improve child passenger safety and training,” Guerrero said.

With the completion of the training, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres commended DPS and DYS for their initiative and contributions of car seats and booster seats for the youth.  

“I commend DYS and DPS for working together to certify technicians within the department and in leveraging resources for building program capacity. As a father of six children, I’ve come to realize that the safety of our children in a vehicle should not be undermined. By working together, we can eliminate these preventable deaths and injuries. I remain committed to educating parents and caregivers, including government personnel about the best ways to keep kids safe while traveling in cars, no matter how short or long the trip. I am pleased to know that our youth are in good hands and I believe that these trainings and resource sharing will go a long way in empowering public services,” Torres said. (PR)

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