Permanent Secretary’s Message

Permanent Secretary’s Message – 2020

 St. Kitts and Nevis has recently recorded the second-highest per capita Gross Domestic Product (GPD) amongst Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries. While this is a sign of a vibrant economy, the Ministry also considers this as an indication that we have the potential to guarantee every citizen in St. Kitts and Nevis a good quality of life where all of their basic needs are met – inclusive of adequate shelter – a nutritious diet, access to relevant education and training, a high standard of health care, clean water and a secure environment. The Ministry of Community Development, Gender Affairs and Social Services play a pivotal role in ensuring that citizens have equal opportunity to not only contribute towards continued economic and social growth but also reap the benefits that accrue from such through the execution of social protection and other programmes and policies.

 In 2020, the Ministry will continue to work towards protection of our most vulnerable groups through continued collaboration with other agencies, and the development and implementation of effective social protection policies and frameworks informed by reliable data. All of our initiatives will seek to reduce the risks and vulnerabilities of persons while promoting self sufficiency and empowerment.

 The Ministry recognizes that success in poverty alleviation requires significant resources and we will bolster our effort through collaboration with other agencies and partners. This includes other Government ministries, private sector entities, the international donor community, and community and faith-based organizations. One such partnership which has yielded positive results is our relationship with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). In 2018-2019, the Ministry, through a grant from USAID piloted the Family Matters Intervention Programme. This programme is an adaptation of the Prevention and Intervention Family Systems Model created by the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office for Gang Reduction and Youth Development Programmes. It targets young persons who are assessed as having four or more risk factors for delinquent behaviour. Under the exemplary supervision of the Counsellor of the Ministry our pilot has earned accolades and has been branded a success story as post-assessment of young persons who participated in the programme that show a significant reduction in their risk factors. In 2020, the Ministry will seek to expand the Family Matters Intervention Programme by extending it to additional communities. The inter-agency protocol will also be utilised: this will facilitate referrals to the programme from agencies including, but not limited to, the Ministry of Education and the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force. The Counselling Unit will continue to provide clinical intervention to clients. With the anticipated increase in staff, the unit will also be able to enhance the support given to the Human Resource Management Department’s Employee Assistance Programme.

Recent accreditation of the Director as a certified trainer for front line workers in the field of substance abuse will also allow for training of key workers and improved support services available to clients suffering from addictions.

Through financial and technical assistance from UNICEF, the Ministry will, in 2020, undertake a review of the implementation of the Social Protection Strategy and Action Plan (2013-2017) and will work towards the development of a new strategy that will serve as the roadmap for social protection over the next five years.  It is anticipated that an inter-agency committee will be commissioned to initially manage the review process and drafting of the new strategy. Upon completion of the strategy the committee will then have oversight of the implementation of the strategy. In addition to the development of this strategy, the Ministry will also finalize the Special Needs Policy which will allow for a more coordinated and integrated approach to ensure the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of our society. The completion of this policy is critical, especially since Government completed ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the United Nation (UN) General Assembly in September.

It is also the intention of the Ministry to finalise the National Gender Equality Policy and Action Plan which will provide the institutional framework to assist the Government in facilitating gender equality and empowerment in keeping with the Sustainable Development Goals and other international instruments to which the state is a signatory. The policy and action plan will also be supplemented by (a) the continued implementation of the National Domestic and Sexual Violence Complaints and Response Protocol; and (b) the development of an Intentional injury surveillance system that will also allow for data collection, analyses, interpretation, dissemination and use regarding intentional injuries.  Reduction in vulnerabilities depends largely on strong communities and strong families. The Ministry in 2020, will, therefore, strive to strengthen our support to community-based organisations. The Ministry currently provides monthly subventions to the St. Kitts and Nevis Association of Persons with Disabilities and Ade’s Place.  We also manage a fund which provides small grants to registered community groups. It is anticipated that in 2020 a series of consultations will be held with communities to determine the registration process for community groups, the criteria for grant support and a more comprehensive, community-oriented approach to the management of the community centres.

Our most valuable resource remains our human resources. To capitalize on the full capacity and potential of our human resources, citizens must be allowed to thrive, develop and be given opportunities to contribute. Risks such as poverty, natural disasters, and abuse prevent our citizens from achieving their full potential and, by extension, stymie national economic and social growth and development. Hence, the Government has instituted an extensive social protection programme spanning several ministries and agencies. Included in this programme is the monthly food voucher programme managed by the Ministry of Community Development, Gender Affairs and Social Services. Recognising that to alleviate poverty and other social ills, we must seek to address the root causes contributing to the families/clients’ vulnerabilities. As such, the Ministry will seek to strengthen case management by Social Workers assigned to the Social Assistance Unit. It will be expected that each client will be registered in the National Household Registry and a full assessment conducted to inform the development of a care plan aimed at reducing the client’s vulnerability and increasing self-sufficiency. It is expected that the care plan will include referrals to other social protection programmes in the Ministries of Health and Education and training opportunities to better equip clients and build resiliency.

Our Nation’s children remain a top priority. The Probation Board in 2019, through funding from UNICEF, initiated the development of an E-Case Management System for use by the Department of Probation and Child Protection Services. Continued utilisation of this system in conjunction with the use of assessment tools obtained under the OECS Juvenile Justice Reform Project will allow officers to effectively evaluate and understand clients’ needs and determine the most appropriate options to address those needs. In 2020, it is anticipated that a list of diversion options will be approved, and the Child Justice Committee will be fully operationalised. These measures will allow for juveniles to be diverted from the criminal justice system. Efforts will also continue in 2020 to fully implement the Child Justice Act and the Children (Care and Adoption) Act. This will include the finalisation of regulations for the Children (Care and Adoption) Act; continued training for officers in the Ministry and other partner agencies including the Special Victims Unit; and implementation of the revised operation manual for New Horizons Rehabilitation Centre and the Probation and Child Protection Services Departments.

Management Representation Statement

I submit for tabling in Parliament, the Annual Report on Plans and Priorities (RPP) for the Ministry of Community Development, Gender Affairs and Social Services. The information provided in this document is an accurate representation of the Ministry’s plans and priorities for 2020.

It is my view that this document would serve as a very important planning instrument and a working guide for the operation of the Ministry in 2020 and will be ultimately used to judge the Ministry’s performance.

Janelle Lewis -Tafari (Mrs)     
Permanent Secretary (Ag)