Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 22, 2020 (SKNIS): During a Sitting of Parliament to debate the Appropriation Bill 2021, 2020, on December 21, Minister of Community and Social Development, the Honourable Eugene Hamilton, took the opportunity to highlight what this ministry has achieved in 2020 and its upcoming plans for 2021.
In 2020, 632 males and 604 females benefited from receiving school uniforms, he said. Also, 17 males and 20 females who experienced a loss were able to receive support for funeral expenses from the ministry.
In terms of food vouchers, 66 male headed homes and 221 female headed homes benefited.
For medical assistance, a total of 66 males and 221 females received eye care support from the ministry. In terms of cancer treatment, 267 males and 320 females received support. For overseas treatment, four males and five females received support. Eight males and 10 females received support for an MRI. Sixteen males and 7 females received surgical support.
Minister Hamilton said that in 2021, there will be a heightened focus on the role of seniors under the Seniors Enrichment Programme in an effort to ensure that seniors live a dignified and purposeful life, and age gracefully.
There will also be a focus on improving the management of the community centres as maintenance is a challenge.
“We have to put more focus on that in 2021,” he said. “It may mean that some services at the health centres may have to be paid for. It may mean that. You will hear more about that as we go on into 2021.”
In terms of counselling, there was the creation of two family matters counselling positions in 2020. Eight family matters counsellors where retained by USAID. Also in 2020, they continued to engage with vulnerable families in the Family Matters Intervention Programme to reduce the level of risks identified through the administration of the Youth Service Eligibility Tool.
“The Family Matters Intervention Programme has achieved excellent overall results in risk reduction in the families who have been part of the programme,” said the minister. “There is a 73 percent average achieved over a two year cycle.”
He said that in the cohort of families that went through the programme, there was a 90 percent reduction in overall risk factors identified.
Also in 2020, there was a tracking of persons receiving help to cope with the pandemic.
“The numbers indicate that during the height of the lockdown and immediately after, the department responded to 156 cases for psychological support that were related to COVID,” he said.
Minister Hamilton stated that in 2021, the intention is to continue with training the professionals, expanding the counselling department to a National Counselling Centre, and creating a Deputy Director position for counselling.
In relation to Probation and Child Protection Services, in 2020, there was the establishment of the technical working group to review National Diversion Programmes, Rehabilitation and Regeneration Strategy.
In 2020, UNICEF provided US $30,000 for the purchase of tablets and other hardware to support case management systems. Also this year, there was a distribution of hygiene packages from UNICEF to foster children and teen mothers.
There was also a review of the Foster Care Programme to review committee implementation by the Probation and Child Welfare Board.
At New Horizons Rehabilitation Centre, there was a retrofitting of the classrooms funded by the OECS Juvenile Justice Rehabilitation Project.
“One of the major achievements was 100 percent pass rate by residents who attempted CSEC exams,” said Minister Hamilton.
At the rehabilitation centre, the minister said that new partnerships are being forged to facilitate internships and training for the residents to assist in their reintegration into society.