Social services dole grows

Cayman Islands Community Affairs Minister Mike Adam stunned the territory when he announced last year that nearly 8,000 people had received some type of financial assistance from government social services agencies in 2010.  

According to government reports, that number had grown to nearly 9,000 people by the end of 2011.  

The government’s Compendium of Statistics, released this month, has revealed that levels of assistance provided in nearly every social welfare category by the Cayman Islands Department of Children and Family Services increased between 
2010 and 2011.  

Records indicated that the total number of people assisted by the department in 2011 reached 8,989; compared with 7,859 in 2010 – a 14 per cent one-year increase. That includes social service cases that were “cleared up” by the end of the year, so the figure is not necessarily representative of everyone who is receiving government assistance.  

Five years ago, the number of people receiving assistance from the Department of Children and Family Services totalled 5,760; meaning there has been a 56 per cent increase in the number of individuals receiving some form of public assistance during the last five years.  

Perhaps of more concern is a sharp increase in those who remained “active clients” of the department by year’s end. In 2011, that figure was 4,343 people; in 2010 there were 2,648 active clients the department was assisting by year’s end. That’s a 64 per cent increase in a single year. According to government records, the number of poor relief vouchers and free school lunches provided by the public dole have not significantly increased year-to-year since 2008. Indigent medical care cases went up a fair amount in 2011; 306 people receiving subsidised health care as opposed to 217 in 2010.  

However, services provided to families saw surprising and substantial increases between 2010 and 2011.  

A total of 1,423 families received food voucher assistance in 2011, compared with 1,088 in 2010; a 31 per cent increase.  

Rental assistance payments were given to 497 families, compared with 349 in 2010. Electricity and water bill payment assistance was provided to 609 families, compared with 341 that got 
help in 2010.  

The number of families that received preschool fees and help with burial expenses also grew during 2011.  

Cabinet Minister Adam has 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”. 

According to government budget documents for the 2011/12 fiscal year that ended on 30 June, some $7 million was budgeted for various poor relief programmes, another $5.5 million set aside for ex-gratia benefit payments to seamen, $4.2 million for the administration of the community assistance programme and another $1.5 million for the care of elderly and indigent people. 

Minister Mike Adam

Cabinet Minister Mike Adam, right, has indicated that social troubles worsened during the prolonged economic downturn that began affecting Cayman in 2009. – Photo: Submitted

1 COMMENT

  1. As I suspect this article will be received with great concern and almost disbelief.
    A dangerous aspect of this aid is to create a dependent class within the society that can become self-perpetuating from generation to generation.
    Clearly greater investigation is needed to determine the causes and solutions to this growing problem.

  2. It is time for government to make an online list that is updated each month showing the names of people receiving assistance, their district, and the amount received and the reason(s) for the assistance.

    Whilst this may cause embarrassment to some of the truly needy, it may also shame some of those who are only taking it because it is available. It is also an opportunity to be your brother’s keeper and find someone on the list and give him or her a job.

    What people need is a hand up, not a handout. Let’s not continue with the handouts to the point where nobody can recognize a hand up.

  3. I’ve heard over the years that there are people on this list that are collecting stipends for kids who do not reside in Cayman or their situation is better than it was when the help was required.

    Is there anyone policing this type or any other abuse of this system?

    Futher, I bet half the people on the receiving end are mothers who went to court and were awarded child support payments that they never receive.

    Is anyone policing the payment of child support payments?

    Maybe if fathers/mothers paid their fair share for the child/ren they created government would not have to pick up their slack hence leaving them to create more needy kids.

    In other countries passports are taken away, drivers licenses and bank accounts are temporarily frozen until payments are made to honor the court ruling.

    It all ties in. Those who made the system should do what they can to amend and uphold the rules they create. Parents have given up on the system.

  4. Not to stir the pot but I would have liked to have seen the figures by district for transparency because I can hear some people mumbling already.

    Also abuse of he system is rampant. I graduated in 1999, during my public school years, I saw alot of children that had lunch money given to them by their parents but yet got free lunch, had the newest Nikes on, always had tons of name brand colognes/body products, Jansport bags, new watches etc.

    Their parents had enough to get by but used Govt to save their money to purchase the good things in life.

    They made Govt pay for the basics, food, shelter and then bought what they wanted but could not afford without Govt assistance. I know this for a fact. I can only imagine this has increased.

    Kids that get free lunchs but have IPads and new BlackBerrys, that does not add up.

  5. I can tell you from my own experiences I have had with DCFS it is not that easy to get assistance even though I have a special needs child and was out of work for well over a year! I went on many interviews also being told I was overly qualified for the job that I was being interviewed for! Turned down for being overly qualified is crazy when you have children to feed your a single mother! I did manage to get a job that is not exactly what I want and is about half of what I should be making I am still working and find it extreamly hard to meet the cost of living but I am thankful that I do have a job as there are so many Caymanians trying very hard to get one and are given the run around!I am no longer one of those under DCFS!I do not agree that the information should be public but I will agree it needs to be monitored better by DCFS! I am too happy not to be assisted by DCFS as I could right a book on the struggles that myself and my children faced and had to go through! It has not been and easy road with a special needs child and I had to deal with a Bias and prejudice Social Worker that only would help those she selected! Lucky there are a few people within DCFS that are very good Supervisors that assisted my children and myself but sorry to say the Minister in charge of that area is good with diversion although he is a nice man her loves to divert!I would suggest to the Government to come up with a resolution to this problem as we are becoming
    a Well fair State .

  6. If government wants to know how disastrous this policy could be, they have only to look at the UK. Several generations have grown up, married and had kids, with all their needs, including housing, provided by the Welfare State – many have hardly worked at all in their adult life.

  7. It would be interesting to see the information for the past ten years and see if the numbers jumped significantly after the 2003 mass status grants…

  8. @Rorschach I think you should be able to FOI that question and yes I do think that there are people getting assistance that have been granted status. I know that DCFS work with Employment Relations to assit with basic training for those whom are out of work and on assistance but I dont think most people realise the seriousness of what is happening in this area unless you have gone through it!
    It is a stressfull position to be in if you are unemployed and seeking employment. I have been registered and am still registered with employment relations as unemployed! I have never gotten a phone call back from them about placing me in a Job I found employment on my own! I even have went there on several occasions and had to wait or be told to come back or make an appointment to see someone. DCFS and Employment Relations need some serious RE-VAMPING with employees and procedures. They also need to have Social Workers that understand Phycology along with proper training. Employment Relations needs to make sure that there Recruitment Officers are trained properly and follow up with people as it sames like only a selected few actually work in Employment Relationship!Ministers need to deal with complaints when they are made and not divert it all over the place making it frustrating and not solving the issues in these areas! Thats my opinion about the matter. Trust me I have alot of storys that I could share but will save it for a latter date 😉