An all-day workshop held Tuesday to address parenting issues in the Cayman Islands is helping lay the groundwork for a new community-based National Parenting Programme.
An initiative of the Department of Children and Family Services, the programme aims to provide grassroots support in dealing with challenges and concerns facing families in the various districts.
‘The message has been clear for a very long time – it’s now time to implement it,’ said Dr. Frank McField, Minister for Community Services, Sports and Gender Affairs. ‘We need to move forward in addressing issues of parenting in our country.’
Tuesday’s session at the Westin brought together government officials along with leaders from schools, businesses, churches and the community to identify issues and discuss possible strategies to meet the needs of each district. Feedback from the workshop will be used to help fine-tune the design and implementation of the new programme. It has been in the works for nearly a year but the launch of the initial research phase was interrupted by the September hurricane.
Project coordinator Debbie Webb of the DCFS said the next step will be to train facilitators to oversee focus groups that will meet in each of the districts over the next two months.
‘We want to work with people who know the community and who are committed to make the necessary changes to address parenting issues.’
Information from the focus groups will then be used to design programming tailored to meet the needs of each community.
‘We have to make sure whatever modules we develop will fit the need that has been identified by that district. In West Bay, for example, the concern may be lack of supervision. For another district it may be something totally different.’
Lack of communication, discipline and supervision along with domestic conflict, time constraints of working parents and the country’s changing social dynamics were among the concerns raised during a panel discussion.
‘Parenting is not easy and some of our parents have special challenges,’ said Nyda Flatley, Chief Education Officer with the Department of Education. ‘We are seeing the need to support parents and help them understand what good parenting skills are. Many say they don’t know what to do.’
Deputy Commissioner of Police Rudolph Dixon said a partnership approach is necessary for the parenting programme to be effective.
‘The entire country has to take it on if we are going to be successful.’