Children and Family Services director retires

The Director of Children and Family Services, Alicia “Jen” Dixon, is retiring from her government post after 33 years of service effective Sept. 1. 

“I am looking forward to spending time with my family here at home and overseas, as well as continuing to pursue my hobbies of gardening, cooking, family history research and the completion of my family tree,” she said. 

“I have devoted my life to my work and truly am looking forward to devoting more time to my family,” she added. 

In a statement released by the Ministry of Community Affairs this week, Ms. Dixon is described as an advocate on the rights of children, domestic violence, parenting and other social issues, who saw many changes during her tenure with government. These included the establishment of the Cayman Islands Marine Institute, the development of the Child and Youth Services Foundation (CAYS), the development and passing of the Youth Justice Law and Children Law, and more. 

Her career began when she joined the civil service in April 1978 as a clerical officer in the Ministry of Health, Education and Social Services. She was transferred to work as senior clerical officer in the Probation and Welfare Unit for three years before moving overseas to pursue her studies in social work. 

In 1985, she received her bachelor of science degree in social work from the Westchester Social Work Education Consortium of the College of New Rochelle, New York. 

On her return to Cayman, Ms. Dixon joined the Department of Social Services, and was appointed the first Caymanian deputy director in October 1987. She served in that capacity until she became director in 2012. 

According to the ministry, under Ms. Dixon’s watch, the department assisted other government departments with the managing of Tent City and an influx of almost 1,200 illegal Cuban migrants. She was awarded a Member of the Order of the British Empire for her commitment. 

In 1996, she graduated from the University of Miami with a master’s degree in business administration. Also in 1996, she was involved in the study of the family in Caymanian society, and later in the Participatory Poverty Study of the National Assessment of Living Conditions.  

In 1998, she was involved with emergency disaster management and trained along with others as facilitators for the Domestic Violence Intervention Training Program in 2000 at the University of the West Indies Campus in Kingston, Jamaica. 

In the ministry statement, Ms. Dixon thanked the ministers and chief officers and those she had worked with over the years, including shelter volunteers and district represenatives. “She recognizes the contributions of her current staff in addressing the various social issues impacting society and encourages them to continue their good work,” the statement noted. 

She also lauded her family and, in particular, her late mother, Sheila Yvonne Jackson Espeut, for “providing her with the strong foundation and guiding principles which have governed her personal and professional life, as well as giving her limitless support in all her efforts.” 

Alicia “Jen” Dixon is retiring from Children and Family Services after 33 years of service.