Nearly 900 people are on permanent poor relief in the Cayman Islands, mostly elderly and handicapped.
This statistic was among the pieces of information garnered by the new Minister of Community Affairs Mike Adam on his latest round of fact-finding missions, this time with the Department of Children and Family Services.
Mr. Adam recently met a team from the department to get an overview of the islands’ social welfare programmes.
He said his agency meetings were aimed at garnering information, and would form the basis of short-, medium- and long-term strategies to ensure efficient operation and a shared vision for the ministry and its departments.
Department Director Deanna Lookloy said that during 2008, staff dealt with 3,024 cases, serving a total of 6,647 people. This included 1,374 new requests for matters such as child protection; financial and medical aid; adoption; adult abuse; elderly care; counselling; Juvenile Court work; and school support programmes.
Mrs. Lookloy noted that as well as the nearly 900 people on permanent poor relief, another 12 people qualify to receive this benefit but cannot receive it because of funding constraints.
Another 90 people are in the process of being assessed.
Department staffers are directing some donations from the community to assist the 12 approved cases as far as possible, she said.
‘My first priority is to see how social services are currently being delivered in the Cayman Islands; what government and community structures are in place to support delivery; and how we can improve to better serve the most vulnerable in our community,’ Mr. Adam said.
Noting that his vision of streamlining social-services delivery includes closer integration between social welfare and job training, Mr. Adam said he would seek to channel resources for education and training to those who have drifted to the margins of the workforce.
He added that he would look carefully at funding for social welfare programmes, saying social services provision is most successful when there is strong government, private sector, and community collaboration.
‘Cayman has a strong Christian heritage and tradition of philanthropy. We need to streamline charitable giving, so it can help to reduce some of the burden for social welfare, too much of which still rests on government’s shoulders,’ he said.
For his meeting with Department of Children and Family Services officials, Mr. Adam was joined by the ministry’s Acting Chief Officer Leonard Dilbert.
The department provides care and protection for children, as well as general public welfare.
Other DSCF representatives attending the meeting were Social Work Manager, Leonora Wynter-Young and Finance and Administration Officer Netha Ebanks.