During this period all women receiving child maintenance money from the finance office of the Board will be required to come to the office and open an account. Come October, mothers will not be receiving money from Finance Office. ‘The Board does not have the personnel to handle child maintenance money,’ the Executive Director of the Board, Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles said. ‘This is why we are handing over that particular responsibility to the banks,’ she added.
According to the HR Manager of the Board, Ms. Audrey Williams who is overseeing the opening of the accounts, this arrangement will make it easier for the women to go through the processes because the environment is one they are used to and the Board staff will be at hand to offer any assistance they may need. ‘They are our clients, they feel relaxed when they are with us,’ she said
Ms. Williams said it was difficult for clients because some were opening bank accounts for the first time. Also, the bank environment was not familiar and to add insult to injury, producing the necessary documents required to open the account was a huge challenge. ‘We decided we’ve had enough complaints and requested for a desk at our office,’ she said.
The Executive Director of the Legal Aid Board, Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles described the development as a huge successes considering the fact that five accounts were opened by midday. She underlined the need for the clients to be treated with utmost respect and care as they go about opening the account. ‘Our clients have gone through a lot in the hands of men who betrayed their trust by abandoning their responsibilities to their children and by extension society,’ she said.
Ms. Carlton-Hanciles also took the opportunity to console and assure two young mothers who came to collect their child maintenance money but to their utter dismay were told their children’s fathers have not paid the money. ‘We will do everything possible to compel them to pay the child maintenance money they have agreed to,’ she said. ‘Thankfully, we have secured court orders for these maintenance cases. We will take legal action against them for flouting court orders.
It will be recalled that the Board opened the first child maintenance account at the Siaka Stevens Branch of the Rokel Commercial Bank on the 2 July 2019. This followed mounting pressure on the Board from mothers, guardians and caregivers who had come to the office to collect child maintenance money only to be told no money had been paid in by the children’s fathers.