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DCFS Prepares for Demand on Service

Minister of Community Affairs and Housing the Hon. Mike Adam, MBE, JP (seated centre); Chief Officer Dorine Whittaker (seated left) and other ministry officials with staff of the Department of Children and Family Services following a recent meeting.

Challenged by the difficult economic times, the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) officials are bracing themselves for increased demand on their services.

Minister of Community Affairs and Housing the Hon. Mike Adam, MBE, JP, met with DCFS staff from the West Bay and George Town Office at Mirco Centre last week to discuss streamlining services to ensure continued help to poor and vulnerable Caymanians, even while carefully managing the budget.

Mr. Adam and the DCFS staff acknowledged that the worsening economic crisis could force some families, who were already having difficulty making ends meet, to seek assistance from the Department.

Minister Adam told Department staff that the challenge was to ensure that they plugged loop-holes to prevent abuse of the system and sharpened delivery of key services to the most vulnerable, while focusing on programmes to empower clients to help themselves.

The ministry is in the process of developing the Poor Relief Regulations which is enabling legislation that will embody the conditions under which poor relief is awarded.

"While there are at present no plans to either increase or reduce the budgetary allocations for services to clients, we must work together to ensure that the funds we do have are used in the most effective way," the Minister said.

Mr. Adam suggested renewed emphasis on the DCFS welfare-to-work programme STARSS (Support Towards Autonomy Retraining and Self-Sufficiency) which has been successful for some clients. The purpose of the programme is to provide participants with life and job skills training, job preparation, and support services allowing them to develop a self-sufficiency plan to help them out of their present situation.

The Minister also observed that he wanted to begin promoting foster care as a means of placing young people in healthy environments. "Foster care will enable our children to be in an environment where they can get individualised care and nurturing; this will better aid their social development," the Minister stated.

Others on the visit included Chief Officer Dorine Whittaker; Deputy Chief Officer Perry Powell; Senior Policy Officer Debbie-Ann Whittaker and Administrative Officer Sophy Broad.

For further information contact: Prudence Barnes