Government considers taking over running of children’s homes

A strategic assessment for the Children and Youth Services Foundation says that the organization that runs children’s homes in Cayman could be integrated into government.

The assessment, released Friday, looks at several strategies to save money and provide better support for and oversight of the organization which cares for children who have been abused or neglected by their parents.

The Executive Council, now Cabinet, created the CAYS Foundation as a government-owned company in 2002. The foundation runs the Frances Bodden Children’s Home, the Bonaventure Boys Home and Phoenix House to rehabilitate and care for children and teenagers in Cayman.

The Ministry of Community Affairs, Youth and Sport commissioned the report based on recommendations in the Ernst & Young Project Future report.

Ministry officials did not respond to questions by deadline, but in a press release Chief Officer Dorine Whittaker said, “Through the Strategic Assessment of the CAYS Foundation, we have taken a critical look at our services. We have also identified potential options to help us strengthen this service in order to provide the best possible care for the children and young people.”

Ms. Whittaker said, “I am now looking forward to the findings of the outline business case and to overseeing implementation of the recommended solution.”

The assessment looked at eight possible options for how to improve the government-run company in charge of Cayman’s most at-risk youth. The options ran from doing nothing to breaking up the foundation’s operations across several ministries. The assessment ended with three possibilities to be reviewed in an outline business case: do nothing; integrate CAYS into the Department of Counseling Services; or “Improve current processes, reduce duplications and rationalise service provision” at the foundation.

The report notes that CAYS staff support integration with the Department of Counseling Services, stating, “CAYS report that the current structure of the Government-owned Company is not ideal, as the Board of Directors has limited expertise in treatment services. Further, the Directors, despite being appointed by Cabinet, are volunteers and, therefore, maintaining a quorum for Board meetings is challenging.”

The assessment continues: “Integrating CAYS with DCS provides the opportunity to have clinical oversight, thereby enhancing the continuum of care in treatment services for at-risk children and their families.”

The assessment explains that the merger could create a better system for children to be referred to CAYS and “could minimise children being removed from their families without other interventions having been tried first.”

In the press release, Minister Osbourne Bodden said, “The focus of this project on the CAYS Foundation is about making sure that we do our very best to help some of our most vulnerable children. This Strategic Assessment is an important first step by my Ministry towards having a plan for improvement that is strategic and robust.”

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