November 20, 2019

The Editor Speaks: Social services must be top priority NOT on the back burner

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It was with much continuing outrage as I was reading Auditor General Sue Winspear’s latest Report, “Follow-up on Past PAC Recommendations”.

It said he Cayman Islands Government has been very slow to implement recommendations made by her office and the in several reports on government finances, especially regarding progress with its REFORMS!!

The Report said the Ministry of Community Affairs is developing a social assistance policy. However, the OAG found little had changed since 2017. the reason seemed to be thatmost of the changes required at the department are tied into the idea of a new strategy.

A new strategy!

Social Assistance is required now!!

The government ministry met with the OAG via the Chief officer who felt that the new strategy to deal with welfare is needed before any of the recommendations made by the OAG and PAC can be implemented.

And how long will that take?

It would appear to be a long time off as the ministry was still in the process of reviewing data, statistics and research as well as an outline business case prepared by KPMG.

Good news? The ministry does have plans to meet and consult stakeholders about the new policy.. No date has been provided in their plans.

Government has to support more than 2,000 families in need and the distribution of funds is arbitary. There is little or no accountability how the assistance that is being provided is improving the lives of the persons receiving the benefits.

The Report found “there is no effective accountability to the Legislative Assembly for this major portion [welfare accounts for approx. 10% of all government spending] of government expenditures.”

This is appalling.

Why is the importance of social services not recognized here as a top priority?

The support from social services is essential and the workers there are under tremendous pressure to help those in need. They are the people that see this first hand. Not some chief officer who has a good salary and a nice home. Time doesn’t matter to him/her.

As social worker Sandra A. Lopez is quoted as saying on the website blog.oup.com: “From birth to death, social workers are there to provide the critical support one may need at any moment in time. In addition, we play so many roles; from therapist or clinician, to administrator, to policymaker across settings like healthcare, schools, community centers, juvenile probation, hospice, behavioral health, and early childhood development to name a few.”

Support is key to making a huge difference in someone’s life.

Therefore, social services must be a top priority and NOT left on the back burner!! It cannot wait for a new strategy from the report. LIVES MATTER MOST.

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