(ZIZ News) — St. Kitts and Nevis has the most social protection and assistance programmes in the OECS. This is according to Minister of Health and Social Development, Hon. Marcella Liburd.
Speaking in challengers on Tuesday night, Liburd outlined a number of these programmes. She added while many programmes target the more vulnerable in society, there are several others which cater to the entire population regardless of social status or financial means.
“We in St. Kitts and Nevis, we have the highest number of social assistance programmes in the OECS, and perhaps the highest in the Caribbean region. We have close to 30 programmes across various ministries and departments. For example in education there is the school meals programme, the free transportation by bus for the school children, you have free text books, exam fees, and more recently, you also had the REACH programme where all students regardless of your station in life was able to access $2500 plus other things depending on their subject area,” she said.
Minister Liburd explained that to access some government social assistance programmes there is an interview process which facilitates careful evaluation of each applicant’s needs.
“To access these services there will be an interview by a social assistance officer, either at the Department itself or at a community centre like this one. This is to ensure that those accessing these services are those who are most in need,” she said.
Liburd said applicants’ income is not the only factor considered in determining eligibility for assistance. Other factors interviewers consider are the person’s living arrangements and number of dependents.
One new programme the minister was very pleased with was the Moulding, Empowering, Nurturing and Directing Families programme or MEND on St. Kitts. She noted that a similar programme exists on Nevis; Reshaping and Inspiring Families or RISE.
“You would not that in these programmes we are shifting away from assistance just to individuals and moving towards families, which we think is a better way to help families communities and indeed the country,” she said.
These programmes provide bimonthly financial assistance to families in need. In turn, the recipients are required to attend workshops created to empower them.