Attorney General Senator Kathy Lynn Simmons

News Release: Hamilton, Bermuda – The Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) recognises that many Bermudians are unfamiliar with how the Department operates as well as the legislation governing how the needs of vulnerable children are addressed. As such, some may be forming conclusions based on misleading or non-factual statements. In this regard, DCFS seeks to clear up the most widely held misconception surrounding one of the facilities that has been publicly identified — namely The Brangman Home.

The Brangman Home is a home — not a prison. As such, the young people there attend school, work after school, and participate in extracurricular activities. Much like in thousands of homes island-wide, the children have curfews that must be adhered to and chores to be done. Privileges are earned. The young people there must ask for permission to leave.

Another misconception is the children can be locked in their rooms in order to prevent them from leaving without permission. This is untrue. The staff at Brangman Home operate within international best practices and within the confines of the law. Children who leave without permission cannot be prevented from doing so. If a child is attempting to leave without permission, for example by climbing out of a window, the supervising adult can speak to them in an effort to convince them to remain in the home. However, they cannot restrain or physically prevent the young person from leaving. In fact DCFS has been informed by persons acting as “advocates for children” that any attempt to prevent the free movement of a child will result in legal proceedings with the staff answering to charges of deprivation of liberty and human rights violations.

Young people who come to the Brangman Home often enter the doors with varying degrees of trauma. Each case is different. Abuse takes its toll in many forms. Some children withdraw, some verbally or physically lash out, others run. In the case of the latter, the vast majority are either one-off instances or infrequent occurrences.

In certain cases, owing to the extreme challenges involved, the Director and children’s officers have a responsibility to further exercise their powers in the interest of the child. For example, in a case where a child in the care of the Director leaves the property without permission or does not return at the designated time, an application can be made to the court in accordance with the Children Act 1998, section 45(1) (a) (b) (c);

Where it appears to the court that there is reason to believe that a child to whom this section applies—

(a) has been unlawfully taken away or is being unlawfully kept away from the responsible person

(b) has run away or is staying away from the responsible person; or

(c) is missing

A recovery order authorises the Bermuda Police Service to recover the child and return them to the Director/designated residential home. Once the recovery order has been granted by the court it is given to the police. It is the responsibility of the BPS to action the recovery order.