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Barbados[1] [print]

Last edited:  May 2005


Summary and Analysis


The child protection system in the Barbados is administered by an administrative body called the Child Care Board, which is supervised by the Ministry of Labour, Community Development and Sports.  Officially, the Child Care Board is responsible for the care of protection of children in the Barbados.  In 1981 the Child Care Board created a specialized program focusing on child abuse.  The program provides training and staff development on issues surrounding abuse and neglect cases, including the relevant legislation.


The Child Care Board encourages individuals to report suspected child abuse and neglect. Individuals may call or go to the department in person to report a case of suspected abuse or neglect. Anonymity is guaranteed to all reporting individuals. Referrals are received from victims themselves, from schools, family members, doctors, police and individuals who have knowledge of such an offence. It should be noted, however, that the reporting of child abuse and neglect is not mandatory, though it is encouraged. There is a close liaison between the Police Department and the Child Care Board and consultation is sometimes sought before proceedings are brought in respect of an offence committed against a child.


There is no formal Family Law Court in the Barbados.  Child abuse and neglect cases are sometimes heard before courts, but for the purpose of prosecuting parent(s) in a criminal context.  There is no indication that children are represented in any way in such criminal prosecutions, and the length of time taken for judicial hearings to actually take place is often very long, up to two years. The UN CRC Report recommended the establishment of a Family Law Court in order to “facilitate prosecution in the area of child abuse and neglect. Such a family court would include the relevant social services which could provide a comprehensive approach to the treatment of children in the matters of child abuse and neglect.”


Part of the responsibility of the Child Care Board is to run the state's foster care agency.  When suspected child abuse is reported to the Child Care Board, the Board investigates the claim.  If the Board finds that the child is at risk in his present environment, the Board may remove the child and place the child in either foster care or in a group home.  The Child Care Board provides counseling to the child when such a situation arises. The foster care system was formalized in 1981 through the Child Care Board Act 1981 (chap. 381).  The system was supposed to provide both for children who needed temporary foster care arrangements and those with longer term needs.  The CRC report found that the “short-term aspect of the system was never fully developed as resources were limited and the perception of short-term placement has never seemed to be generally appreciated by the population. Short term is any period under six months.”  Long term placements are more common and many children in such long term assignments have remained with the foster parents until adulthood.  Generally, however, the foster care system in the Barbados remains small.  At the time the CRC Report was written, the Child Care Board had thirty-nine children in foster care.  The Child Care Board also runs eleven children's homes/centers. Children who have no one else to care for them go to these homes.


Periodic reviews by child care officers (who function similar to social workers in the United States) of the situation of children in both foster care and group homes are required. A visit is required one month after a child has been placed in a foster home, and such visits must continue as often as the welfare of the child requires. The regulations also stipulate that the child must be visited once in every month for the first six months, and periodically thereafter. A review of the welfare, health, conduct and progress of each foster child is done by a child-care officer other than the officer who supervised the placement, at first within three months, and thereafter not less than once every three months.  Child care officers must visit group homes at least once a month, and they are also required to complete reviews of the children in the homes at least twice per year and formulate care plans for the children. The care plans are supposed to focus on permanence as a goal. 


We have not found any information that indicates that the Child Care Board formally takes the view of the child into consideration when making determinations about the plan for children who have been abused or neglected, except in cases where a child in foster care is going to be adopted. The Adoption Act, first passed in 1955 and amended in 1981, gives the Child Care Board authority for organizing procedures in adoption.  However, only the court can make the final adoption order.  The Family Law Act (chap. 214, sect. 43 (lb)) requires that in custodial proceedings the court must not make any order contrary to the wishes of a child who has attained the age of 16, unless there are special circumstances.  The Adoption Act further requires the court to give due consideration to the wishes of the minor who is old enough to understand the nature of the process before making an order.


It is important to note that we were not able to speak with a child protection specialist in the Barbados despite numerous attempts to contact organizations and individuals who, to the best of our knowledge, are involved in child protection in the Barbados.  The information provided on this webpage is primarily taken from the 1997 State Party Report on the Barbados.[2] After extensive searches of online databases and library catalogs, at the time we have not been able to locate the actual text of laws affecting children in the Barbados.  The descriptions above were primarily taken from the 1997 Report.


Related Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)




Child Care Board Act of 1981 (replaced the original Act of 1969 to give the Child Care Board a wider scope of operation)


The Child Care Board is the authorized body to advocate on behalf of children and as such through its supervising ministry (Ministry of Labour, Community Development and Sports).  It is primarily responsible for the monitoring and implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.


The Act gives the Child Care Board power to:


(a) Place children in foster care; and

(b) Supervise foster children and foster parents. 


The Domestic Violence (Protection Orders) Act of 1992


This domestic violence legislation provides some protection to children.  It empowers a spouse, former spouse, child-care officer or welfare officer to apply to the court on behalf of a child against whom an offence was committed, or harassment was conducted, for such an order. The court has the power to remove the perpetrator of the violence from the home under Section 6. Section 7 requires the court to have regard to the welfare of any child who is a member of a household which may be the subject of any investigation. Section 14 authorizes a police officer to enter any premises without warrant to give assistance to any person if he has reasonable grounds to suspect either that a protection order is being violated or that someone is in imminent danger of suffering physical injury or has suffered such injury.


Research Path


Statutes and laws


We were able to find some summaries of the relevant statutes and laws of Barbados through the UN reports and a NGO report.  However, we were not able to locate the text of these laws. 


Resources Consulted





Barbados Parliament


Text of current Bills that are being debated


Barbados Child Care Board

Fred Edghill Building,



Tel:  426-2577

Fax: 435-3172



[1] This page is also available as a .pdf Document, and Word Document.

[2] Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial reports of States parties due in 1992, Barbados, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/3/Add.45 (Feb. 11, 1997), available at http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/33e5a6215d68c162802564bf0051b33f?Opendocument.


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