Permanent Secretary’s Message

Over the past two (2) years, the Ministry has been unrelenting in its efforts to navigate its course around the critical challenges of keeping staff and families safe while ensuring the ongoing provision of services to clients and populations adversely affected by the global pandemic. Consequently, this has led to modifications in the way the various Departments function. It has significantly obliged officers to, more than ever before, demonstrate their commitment and dedication to the empowerment of individuals, families, and communities.

Notwithstanding the disruptions from such turbulent times, the Ministry intensified its focus towards accomplishing several goals during 2021, including completing the National Gender Equality Policy and the National Social Protection Policy and Action Plan. These critical documents that will be finalised shortly are intended to provide the framework for coordinated, and cohesive efforts of the Ministry and other stakeholders to ensure that our beloved Federation achieves notable progress towards Sustainable Development Goals, especially those related to poverty and inequality.

The Ministry has embraced new and innovative mechanisms and techniques that allow us to be cost-effective and more efficient in meeting clientele needs. As such, we will, in 2022, transition from a food voucher programme to a cash transfer programme that will provide greater choice and dignity for clients and allow them to spend money according to their needs while at the same time receiving their benefits discreetly. Through collaboration with the IT Department, the Ministry will work assiduously towards the complete digitisation of the Social Protection Programme. This will reduce administrative cost overheads of managing physical documents and the provision of greater security of invaluable records from disasters and theft. Additionally, there will be an increase in the efficiency of file retrieval, sharing of files for quicker decision- making, and the enhanced ability for officers to work remotely when required. Following the pandemic’s onslaught, an increased focus has been channelled towards mental health and wellbeing. Consequently, in our efforts to be responsive and better equipped to meet the changing needs of our populace, the Counselling Department, with assistance from PAHO, will continue its conversion to the National Counselling Centre, offering a more comprehensive range of services to clients.

One of the most significant investments a nation can make involves advancing the wellbeing and care of our children. Toward this end, the Child Protection Case Management System developed several years ago will be further enhanced with an application to enable the public to report suspected child abuse cases to the Probation and Child Protection Services. Accordingly, the Ministry will continue its efforts at executing approved diversion programmes for young persons who need a second chance and those at risk of offending.

As the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has approved an extension for the OECS-managed Juvenile Justice Reform Project (JJRP) Phase II, the Ministry will have the opportunity to recruit additional human resources to assist with meeting the objectives of the project. This is envisioned to encompass the following: increase the use of alternative sentencing for youth in conflict with the law; ensure rehabilitation centres and diversion programs provide support services to foster rehabilitation and support the reintegration of youth leaving rehabilitation facilities and returning to their families and communities.

  1. In its continued promotion of partnership and collaboration in the execution of its mandate, the Ministry was humbled by the generous support of local partners in responding to the Covid-19 crisis. To build on this synergy, the Ministry will shortly enter a Memorandum of Understanding with a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) to support abuse victims. A Disabled Empowerment Committee will also be established for greater cohesion and effective responses to the needs of persons in this community with a view of engendering an enabling environment for all persons with disabilities. This Committee will assist the disabled in achieving their optimum potential and participate fully in every aspect of community life and advancement.

With the significant contribution of the Republic of China on Taiwan, training for women will continue in several entrepreneurial areas, allowing these women to achieve greater financial empowerment and self-sufficiency. Coupled with this undertaking, the Department of Gender Affairs will continue to work with men and boys in partnership with the Men’s Council.

As we fast approach the tenth (10th) anniversary of the opening of the New Horizons Rehabilitation Centre, the Ministry will continue our physical upgrades to the facility. We will also finalise the revised operations manual, intended to ensure that this critical institution provides an environment conducive to rehabilitation and the continued positive growth of the young persons entrusted to its care.

Undoubtedly, the peculiar challenges encountered in 2021 have demonstrated the Ministry’s important role, particularly in working towards facilitating the Federation’s recovery from the socio-economic destabilisation caused by the pandemic. For this reason, the Ministry has renewed and revitalised its commitment to serve our nation in 2022 and beyond.

Management Representation Statement

On behalf of the Ministry of Social Development and Gender Affairs, it is my privilege to register the Ministry’s plans, objectives and expected outcomes for 2022.

This information presented is because of consultations with the Ministry’s partners, Departments, and staff. The Ministry, therefore, stands committed to implementing the initiatives and programmes using all resources available to us as we strive towards poverty alleviation, gender equality and the creation of communities where vulnerable persons, including children, older persons, and persons with disabilities, can live and grow to achieve their full potential.

Janelle Lewis -Tafari (Mrs.)
Permanent Secretary