The Sierra Leone Legal Aid Board has opened the first child maintenance account at the Siaka Stevens Street Branch of the Rokel Commercial Bank.
The Human Resource Manager of the Board, Ms. Audrey Williams oversaw the opening of the account. According to Ms. Williams, the accounts will be opened at the Rokel Commercial Bank and the Union Trust Bank. The Board will open accounts in other banks in areas of the country where Rokel Commercial Bank and the Union Trust Bank do not have a branch.
The Board and the Banks agreed that Savings Accounts will be opened for Child Maintenance. Also, a minimum balance of Le20,000 ( twenty thousand Leones) will be allowed for each account.
‘In the coming weeks, we will open accounts for over 500 women and caregivers whose children have been awarded child maintenance by the Board,’ she said. ‘At the end of the day, we will ensure we open accounts for all child maintenance awarded by the Board.’
With the opening of the account, Fatmata will no longer have to come to the Finance Office of the Board to collect child maintenance money of Le 200,000 (two hundred thousand Leones). She will now have to go to the bank to withdraw money deposited into her account by the Board. According to the settlement reached by the Board’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Department the amount will increase to Le 250,000 (two hundred and fifty thousand Leones) after three months.
The opening of the child maintenance account comes as a huge relief to the Board which has been struggling to cope with the increasing number of mothers and caregivers coming to the office at the end of the month to collect monies received from fathers of their children.
This is because child maintenance matters account for the majority of cases mediated by the Board’s ADR. Also, the fact that the Board has been securing court orders for maintenance cases has increase compliance with settlement reached.
‘We have been able to achieve this much because of the support of the Chair of the Board, Justice Miatta Samba, who had pushed for court orders for all settlements reach for maintenance matters by the Board’s ADR Department,’ the Executive Director of the Legal Aid Board, Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles said.