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Focus on Community Needs

Minister for Community Affairs and Housing the Hon. Mike Adam, MBE (centre) pictured with officials and other participants at the opening of the staff development programme. Standing, right is Dr. Peta-Anne Baker.

Our communities need to see that meaningful and effective services will be delivered...

—The Hon. Mike Adam, MBE

Efforts are underway to enhance government agency and community worker capabilities for addressing family structure and broader societal stress.

To this end, Minister for Community Affairs and Housing the Hon. Mike Adam, MBE, formally opened a staff development programme on Tuesday, 17 November. The aim is to empower and mobilise communities via team-building exercises, while equipping staff to meet district challenges.

Major objectives of this concentrated public service re-development are to incorporate community development officers into the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), and to develop strategies for addressing such issues as unemployment, juvenile delinquency, teen pregnancy and needs of the elderly.

Also attending the opening were Chief Officer Dorine Whittaker, DCFS Director Deanna Look Loy, Senior Policy Advisor Debbie Whittaker, Temporary Housing Manager Catherine Tyson, Policy Officer Miguel Jacques, Senior Administrative Officer Margely Reve, Coordinator of Community Development Zemrie Thompson, and community development officers from all three islands.

The University of the West Indies' Dr. Peta-Anne Baker has been temporarily engaged to serve as the training facilitator as well as help evaluate and effect the transition to DCFS. Her experience includes agency management, programme planning, community education and leadership programme design and implementation. She is also an author and conference presenter.

During his opening remarks, Mr. Adam emphasized government's allocation of significant resources to more effectively meet community needs. This commitment is endorsed by requiring that systems be revitalized and that relevant services be offered to assist those needing immediate assistance, while planning for long-term needs of vulnerable persons.

Discussions with Minister Adam were included on the opening's agenda. Topics included inter-ministerial collaboration to address youth issues, and government's recent increased financial support for non-governmental organizations such as churches and service clubs.

"At the end of the day, our communities need to see that meaningful and effective services will be delivered," the Minister said. "This is a critical aspect of re-developing and re-focusing the approaches, and I look forward to seeing the end results."

Dr. Baker's assignment in the Cayman Islands includes meetings with senior officials, determining further agency training needs, and preparing a final evaluation and a recommendation report.

The five days of community development staff training include having participants prepare, conduct and evaluate an actual community exercise, as well as issue-identification and enhancing core skills in project planning.

For further information contact: Lennon Christian