More than 60 social workers and affiliated agency representative took part in a professional seminar on child protection and care last week at the Family Life Centre.
The Department of Children and Family Services and the Child Month Committee co-organised the seminar as part of the Child Month celebrations. It comprised two workshops, The Practice of Social Work in the Cayman Islands: Issues, Challenges and the Way Forward; and Reaching Boys and Young Men.
The seminar was designed to share social work best practices and to use discussion forums to generate innovative ideas on improving children- and youth-related social work, stated a GIS press release.
‘I am happy to see so many professionals gathered to discuss Cayman’s social work practice and to identify various ways that we can improve the quality of life for our children and families,’ Ministry of Health and Human Services Chief Officer Diane Montoya she said on behalf of Minister Anthony Eden.
The minister’s message also mentioned the forthcoming implementation of the Children’s Law and the planned establishment of a new child development agency which will advocate for the needs and rights of children and young people.
During the first workshop, DCFS Deputy Director Alicia Dixon gave an overview on Cayman’s social work history, while Social Worker Kernita Bailey provided a professional perspective on why children are removed from their homes.
Ms Bailey also highlighted the range of issues experienced by social workers dealing with children and parents in such situations, including resistance, as well as difficulties in locating suitable placement for any children being removed.
DCFS Social Worker Jasmine Powell offered insight on the West Bay experience in social work with children, and elaborated on social issues affecting this district.
In addition, Social Work trainee Sophia Walker explained the challenges involved in assisting persons with the dual diagnosis of mental health problems and drug abuse. An appeal for greater public awareness of mental illness was made, as was a call to reduce the stigma associated with persons who are mentally ill.
Social Work Supervisor Leonora Wynter-Young concluded the first workshop by elaborating on myths and realities associated with addressing juvenile delinquency in the Cayman Islands.
As part of the second workshop, MHHS Deputy Chief Officer Leonard Dilbert gave a historic overview of male socialization in Cayman; Scouts Assistant Chief Commissioner Robert Geofroy drew on relevant experiences gained in the Scouts movement and Big Brother, Big Sister Executive Director Clifton Gayle shared similar ideas gleaned from his organisation.
Finally, Youth Services Coordinator James Myles made a presentation about working with school-aged boys.
All presenters made recommendations on the way forward during their presentations.
National Parenting Programme Parent Educator Hylton Grace, one of the organisers of the seminar, said he was satisfied with the seminar’s outcome. ‘Participants agreed that there is a need to continue dialogue and intra- and interagency cooperation. These are ways in which we can hope to make Cayman a better place for children in the future.’