Budget funds Community Development social protection restructuring

Director of Social Development Azilla Clarke

Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 12, 2013 (SKNIS): During his 2013 Budget Address, Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Denzil Douglas stated that the Ministry of Social and Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs had been provided the funding necessary for it to continue its role of protecting the most vulnerable.

He noted that this function would continue through the National Social Protection Strategy and Action Plan 2012-2017 which has the objective of enabling the Department to better target social safety net services to the underprivileged. To this end, the Ministry has been allocated just over $7,400,000 for Recurrent Expenditure and just under $4,000,000 for Capital Expenditure for 2013.

Prime Minister Douglas outlined that the strategy aims to increase the efficiency of several programmes that extend across several ministries.

“This document [strategy] establishes the main priorities for social protection reform and the creation of a sustained, comprehensive and integrated social protection system,” the Prime Minister noted. “I am proud to report that this document is the first of its kind in the English speaking Caribbean and St. Kitts and Nevis is being considered a model from which others can take pattern.”

Director of Social Development Azilla Clarke detailed to the St. Kitts and Nevis Information Service that the National Social Protection Strategy was developed from findings based on a 2009 Social Safety Net Assessment by the World Bank, UNICEF, and UNWomen.

“They gave us about 13 recommendations to do,” Ms. Clarke explained. “One of the first ones was to clearly outline our strategy as it relates to the execution of social protection … we chose to go to Social Protection. We wanted to change the mindset of the public from thinking just of the administration of the benefit to the intended self upliftment for the individual.”

The final Strategy document was thus created with the assistance of UNICEF.

“It calls for the consolidation of some of our existing programmes,” Ms. Clarke outlined. “It calls for better or more efficient management through a proxy-means test – this is an objective test that looks at some of the characteristics of a family and an individual and based on a weighted average of those characteristics, you can clearly tell if that person qualifies and for what they qualify. To be effective in social service you need to clearly target those most in need, so that they can then transition to join into the productive sector.”

The Document also calls for the introduction of a Management Information System (MIS), and for Social Services to be the lead department in terms of conducting the assessment, determining an individual’s qualification for a specific programme and then passing on that information to the appropriate department. This would include supplying a list of names to the Ministry of Education with students who qualify for books, school meals, education waivers and the like.

“And therefore we [different service-oriented Ministries] all know who we are servicing so at the end of the day we can give a money value e.g. for children we have spent this amount of money across the board,” Ms. Clarke noted. “This then tightens up the system and allows us to truly target those most in need, with all of the resources of the state to make a positive impact on the national indicators of health, education and personal development.”

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