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Ministry Announces New Phase of Consultations

¦ Ministry of Community Affairs reports on next phase in its evaluation of financial assistance operations
¦ Public input to be sought

The Ministry of Community Affairs is pleased to announce its next review phase by launching a series of consultations, with private citizens and not-for profit-organisations, to further improve services and revise outdated legislation. With the appointment of both Chief Officer Teresa Echenique, and Deputy Chief Officer Andre Ebanks, being less than a year ago, the Ministry has been undergoing a thorough review of service provision. Newly-promoted Director of Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), Paulinda Mendoza-Williams, and Director of the Needs Assessment Unit (NAU), Tamara Hurlston, and their teams have played an integral part in this review process.

Guided by its vision to “Empower People and Enhance Lives” the Ministry is continuing its drive to evaluate its strengths and take necessary steps to further enhance the quality and availability of service provided both at the Ministry and departmental level. In July 2018, a core working group of Ministry, DCFS and NAU staff was established to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the financial assistance operations. Chaired by the Director of the NAU, one of the key areas of focus for the working group has been to develop a strategic plan that further strengthens and guides financial assistance services.

In an effort to provide sustainable and transformational financial assistance services, it was important for the working group to seek broad input from a cross-section of persons and organisations. An initial round of consultations with internal Government stakeholders, including the Ministries of Health, Human Resources and Immigration and agencies such as Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman, the National Drug Council, the Family Resource Centre, the Sunrise Adult Training Centre, Her Majesty’s Cayman Islands Prisons Service and the Department of Community Rehabilitation, is complete.

The feedback received in these face-to-face meetings and questionnaires means that the strategic plan has begun to take shape. Previous research reports and the aforementioned initial consultations indicate that the types of services provided by the NAU are comparable to other jurisdictions and meet the needs of the public; however, where more improvement can be realised is in the delivery of these services. In addition, the need to repeal and replace the Poor Persons (Relief) Law with a modernised financial assistance principal law was identified as a priority.

The Ministry is now pleased to confirm that a second round of consultations will start shortly. “The next round of consultations is a call-to-action to help shape future provision by private citizens and other external stakeholders including charities,” said Ms Echenique. Deputy Chief Officer, Andre Ebanks was equally enthusiastic about this next round. “Going forward, the Ministry anticipates that this latest round of deliberations will provide further insights in developing coordinated and effective solutions to advance its services,” he said.

Temporary Minister for Community Affairs, Hon. Austin Harris said he was “pleased with the efforts so far by the working group, which will lead to the establishment of a strategic plan to address financial assistance issues to empower the lives of Caymanians; especially the most vulnerable.” He went on to add “success in this area will depend in part, on the development of fit-for-purpose laws and policies, but equally it will require constructive co-operation from all stakeholders, including the public and private sectors.”

The next round of consultations will take the form of questionnaires and focus groups, which will be co-ordinated with key stakeholders identified by the working group. The Ministry is hoping that it will receive a significant degree of support from the public, civic organisations and charities with these efforts. If interested in participating, contact the Ministry of Community Affairs at mincays@gov.ky.

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