(ZIZ News) — Representatives of the Ministry of Community Development, Gender Affairs and Social Services in both St. Kitts and Nevis took part in a four-day Risk Assessment and Mental Health Screening workshop made possible by the OECS Juvenile Justice Reform Project.

The training which was facilitated by master trainer, Jemma Alexander of St. Vincent is expected to help to strengthen competencies in the use of assessment tools.

Speaking with ZIZ News, Alexander explained the tools that were introduced at the workshop stating, “The mental health screening is normally used to identify young people who may have some mental health issues while the risk assessment is actually used to screen persons to determine whether or not these persons are likely to offend or re- offend.”

According to Alexander, the training will assist in the implementation of a standard juvenile assessment instrument; something that has been lacking in St. Kitts.

“This will help persons to actually intervene effectively. In St. Kitts there is actually no standardized method or no standardized tool that is used when it comes to risk assessment. The SAVRY that they are training will give them the ability to use a standardized tool while everyone in St. Kitts will be using this same tool. It also helps the case workers to have a tool where they can identify the risk of the young person and match the risk with the services,” she explained.

Participant at the workshop, counsellor at New Horizon Rehabilitation Center Zara Jacobs was enthusiastic about the training, stating that it will assist in properly assessing juveniles.

She said, “One of the things that we have found with working with youth at risk is that we don’t have an independent way of assessing how high the risk is. Lots of things are going on in young people’s lives but we do it mostly based on judgement; what services we can offer. This is really going to help us be more consistent over time.”

The training workshop took place from April 26th to 29th at the NEMA conference room.