October 19, 2021

The Editor Speaks: Protecting our children MUST be the priority

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This statement was emphasized by Felicia Robinson, the director of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) when she appeared before the Public Accounts Committee.

Since the introduction of the legislation to protect children, which requires everyone in the relevant fields to report concerns, there has been a notable increase in reports of potential child abuse, Robinson said.

The Needs Assessment Unit (NAU) and the wider family services department were separated so that qualified social workers could focus on children in need and not get bogged down with means assessments over cash payments for indigent people.

Now the proposed re-integration of the NAU with the DCFS will mean staff in the NAU will be focusing solely on financial assistance.

There are a lot of children at risk in the Cayman Islands, Robinson indicated and that was her department’s priority.

However, Robinson said she did not have adequate resources to handle the mounting workload.

She wanted her department to be more proactive and not just respond to the many reports coming in from many sources.

Social workers needed to get out into the community to try and address the circumstances some children are in before the abuse begins or children fall into crime, she said.

In the Cayman islands there is a shortage of foster families and safe places for children who need protection. Without the necessary funding it was becoming more difficult to place children in need.

And it isn’t just children her department has to deal with. The other extreme.

Aged persons!

“Like everywhere, we have an aging population,” she said, “and they will need more social workers to support seniors as well.”

Without money and more social workers I shudder to think what is going to happen.

The crime numbers with young people committing more of them should wake up our government that a stitch in time saves nine.

An old saying but a very wise one.

Some of our children are suffering from significant emotional and behavioral problems as well as mental health problems and disabilities Robinson said.

I hope someone in government is listening.

Protecting our children MUST be the priority. Find the money!

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