In 2010, the Cayman Islands Department of Children and Family Services provided some type of financial assistance to nearly 8,000 people.
That staggering figure was revealed by Community Affairs Minister Mike Adam during a political meeting last week in George Town. It represents about 15 per cent of Cayman’s population according to tallies done by the Economics and Statistics Office during a census last year.
“This department alone assisted almost 8,000 persons with some form of financial assistance,” Mr. Adam told a crowd of more than 200 United Democratic Party supporters last Tuesday. “This included food vouchers, rental assistance, school uniforms, school meals for children, medical expense for travel and many, many other areas.”
Mr. Adam indicated that social troubles worsened during the prolonged economic downturn that began affecting Cayman in 2009. He said the Ministry of Community Affairs and Housing was working “to ensure that the vulnerable are eventually in the position to help themselves”.
“It is something hard to appreciate what we are doing on a daily basis,” he said.
According to government budget documents for the current 2010/11 fiscal year, some $6.7 million was budgeted for various poor relief programmes, another $6 million set aside for ex-gratia benefit payments to seamen, $4.7 million for the administration of the community assistance programme and another $1.6 million for the care of elderly and indigent people.
Mr. Adam said the elderly and infirm had suffered most keenly during the economic downturn.
The minister said the newly refurbished Golden Age Home for retirees that officially opened in November now houses 11 people full-time and another 17 in day care. Four seniors are housed in Hillside House, another six in East End’s Sunrise Cottage, 24 in the Kirkconnell Community Care Centre and Tibbetts Home, and 11 are in home care in Cayman Brac.
In addition, the minister said the government was responsible for 26 clients now staying at the Pines Retirement Home.
“We will not leave anyone behind,” he said.
Another area where the department has seen an increase in demand is foster care, Mr. Adam said.
As of Tuesday, the ministry had 34 children listed in foster care programmes but only 14 new foster care parents approved.
“We need more [foster parents],” he said. “It can make the key difference between a decent life and one full of struggles.”
Minister Adam said the government has also made significant strides in the establishment of affordable housing homes on Grand Cayman.
He said 12 homes are now ready for occupancy in the East End district, and another 29 in West Bay were just finished.
“I can promise you we will be building many more in the next 18 months,” he said. “You cannot live in the homes the previous government was only talking about.”
According to National Housing Development Trust officials, some 26 affordable homes are planned for the previous Affordable Housing Initiative site in Windsor Park, George Town. Plans are also being made for an affordable housing site in Bodden Town.