Greater initiatives for vulnerable groups in 2017

GINA, GUYANA, Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Ministry of Social Protection in 2017 will pursue various initiatives to improve the lives of families, children, the elderly and persons with disabilities.

Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan while presenting the $250B National Budget for 2017 on Monday, said that the government has sought to provide safe and serviced communities across Guyana to enable the family unit to flourish.

Minister of Social Protection, Hon. Volda Lawrence

Minister of Social Protection, Hon. Volda Lawrence

The Minister noted that the upbringing of children is the responsibility of adults; therefore, the government will work with parents and guardians who are most in need, to ensure that all children have a happy and productive childhood.

In 2017, the Child Care  and  Protection  Agency  will  be  rolling  out  a  special  parenting  skills  capacity building programme for parents or guardians whose children were temporarily removed from their care. It is expected that about 280 parents will benefit from this training, Minister Jordan explained. This will address the backlog of children in institutional care, whose placement is not temporary, and alleviate the financial responsibility that comes with adopting a child, the Minister explained.

Further, Minister Jordan pointed out that the foster care stipend has been increased to $20,000, effective January 1, 2017.

Meanwhile, care for the elderly has deteriorated due to limited resources, ownership from families to assist in the general care and welfare of the elderly and poor management. Therefore, in the new dispensation, elderly citizens can expect to benefit from improved care through the implementation of minimum standards, which seek to provide modern institutions for residents, the Finance Minister explained.

Jordan added that it is envisaged that these standards will be elevated to ensure that elderly persons are respected, treated fairly, and with dignity, live productive lives and are in constant contact with loved ones.

Additionally, the senior citizens’ residential facility, the Palms, will benefit from substantial repairs to the tune of $89.5M in the new year. “Our Government’s prioritisation of our elderly citizens is reflected in the measures we have taken in the last two budgets to improve old age pension by 39 percent, and removal of the requirements for them to pay for drivers’ licences and the travel tax, among others,” the Minister said.

Persons with disability in 2017 will not only receive financial support through the public assistance programme, but will also undergo vocational training by the Board of Industrial Training to improve their quality of life.

Additionally, the Deaf Association of Guyana has established a new relationship with the Guyana Council of Organisations for Persons with Disabilities and strengthened the partnership with the Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Centre. To date for 2016, the Board has provided training to 131 disabled persons and is targeting 200 in 2017, Minister Jordan pointed out.

Further, the Government will continue to promote gender equality, Minister Jordan said. The Gender Affairs Bureau was created in June, to replace the Women’s and Men’s Affairs Bureaus, to cater for a holistic approach to treat with gender issues. For the first time, the Bureau is aiming to create a national directory of women’s groups and associations for countrywide dissemination.

The Bureau will also undertake training and sensitisation sessions with 100 community policing groups to improve responses to gender-based social issues.

“Work has begun to develop a strategic plan for women’s development. Consultations on the National Gender Policy began this year, and have been expanded to include additional communities.  Both the policy and an action plan will be completed by September, 2017,” Minister Jordan explained.

 

By Ranetta LaFleur

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