Human Services Ministry making major strides in developmental agenda

Mid-Year Report 2022

The PPP/C government, through the Human Services and Social Security Ministry has consistently supported the improvement of the well-being of senior citizens and other vulnerable groups across Guyana, as outlined in the 2022 Mid-Year Report.

The report highlighted old-age pensioners continue to benefit from an increased monthly pension of $28,000.

Minister of Human Services and Social Security Hon. Dr, Vindhya Persaud

Prior to this year, senior citizens received a pension of $25,000; an increase from the $20,500 pension payment under the previous administration.

Some $2.3 billion was earmarked in January for the increase, which saw some 65,000 senior citizens benefitting nationwide.

Looking ahead, training of persons to care for the elderly is set to commence in the second half of the year, with 117 persons to be trained in this regard under the Board of Industrial Training (BIT) programme, while another 425 persons will be trained under the Women’s Investment and Innovation Network (WIIN) training programmes by the end of the year.

Women and Gender

At the half-year mark, the implementation of government initiatives for women and men’s empowerment had also gained momentum, with the development of employable skills for the job market.

A total of 1,277 persons graduated with at least one skill in the first half of 2022 through the WIIN Business Clinic and the BIT, of which 980 were women and 297 were men.

These courses included Child Care, Care for the Elderly, Garment Construction, Home Management and Patient Care Level 2. Another 5,657 applications have been processed for the skills training scheduled to commence in the second half of 2022.

The WE LIFT programme, launched in 2021, supported several initiatives, including two mini expos for women to promote and expand their businesses.

Some 1,100 graduands of the WIIN Business clinic received cash grants of $50,000 to help start small businesses.

Further, they were provided with linkages to financing organisations for access to micro-financing. Two additional WIIN Business workshops will commence in the third quarter of 2022, in Regions Two and Ten.

Additionally, the government’s public assistance increased by 14.3 per cent, from $12,000 to $14,000 per month effective March 2022, and saw some 16,500 persons benefitting within the first half of 2022, at $1.4 billion.

The legal aid service also aimed to reach more eligible persons in 2022, with a total of 1,330 cases facilitated in the first half.

In the first half of 2022, 174 alleged Trafficking-In-Persons (TIP) victims were assisted with shelter, food, clothing, and psychological counselling, among others.

Persons with Disabilities

In May, President Dr Irfaan Ali, announced a cash grant of $100,000 per child living with a disability, as part of the government’s commitment to supporting families of children living with disabilities.

The grant added to progress made in the implementation of programmes for the empowerment of persons living with disabilities.

In this regard, the survey to record all persons living with disabilities was completed in Regions Two, Three, Four, Five, Six and Ten, and a hotline was set up to capture information on identified persons living with disabilities, in order to expedite the recording of their data.

Additionally, the establishment of the national classroom for autistic children was completed in the first half of the year and classes will commence in the fourth quarter of 2022.

A total of 101 children have also been identified for Special Education Needs (SEN) services through the continued assessment of the schools in Regions One, Four and Nine, which will bring the total number of children receiving SEN services to 192.

In addition, 706 persons commenced training in various areas to enhance SEN services.

With effect from the third quarter of 2022, the Public Assistance programme will be extended to benefit eligible persons living with disabilities.

By the end of 2022, 239 persons living with disabilities are expected to be trained in employable skills, 39 of which were trained in the first half of 2022.

The construction of the Mahaica Disability Complex is scheduled to be completed by the end of the third quarter of 2022. The construction of the Care Centre at Mahaica, as well as a Production and Retail Centre for persons with disabilities at Canje, will commence later this year.

The latter will be the first of several such centres across the country.

Victims of Domestic Violence

In keeping with the Government’s support for the prevention of domestic violence, a decision was taken in early 2022 to overhaul the Domestic Violence Act (1996) and the Sexual Offences Act (2010) as part of the 2022 legislative agenda, with the intent to address major social issues.

During the first half of 2022, the number of recorded domestic violence cases received through the 914 hotline was 360, as compared to 260 in the same period of 2021. A total of 46 domestic violence cases were addressed by the legal aid services.

Further, 1,476 police officers received training to strengthen their skills in handling domestic violence matters during the review period, under the COPSQUAD Initiative.

In the first half of 2022, in collaboration with Guyana Spotlight Initiative, Guyana’s iMatter application was launched to provide quick access to the Government’s services related to gender-based violence via an electronic panic button and to provide access to the 914 toll-free domestic abuse hotlines.

Child Care and Protection

In the first half of 2022, the Child Care and Protection Agency spent $333.5 million of the $955.4 million allocated to the agency.

Focus was placed on the improvement of the operations of care facilities providing child-care services and at mid-year 2022, 88.6 percent (311) of the facilities providing child care services were operating with minimum standards, compared with 68 percent (241) at the end of 2021.

In the second half of 2022, 60 daycare facilities are expected to receive a $50,000 subsidy to improve their services to comply with the required minimum standards.

Further, 444 essential workers are earmarked to benefit again from financial support of $15,000 per month per child for daycare service daycare months, payable directly to the daycare facilities.

The government will also be launching a ‘night care’ programme for children to be kept in a safe space while their parents or guardians are at work. Through the WIIN programme, about 1,100 persons will commence training in child-care services during the second half of the year.

As the government continues to focus on the reunification and reintegration of children from both institutional and foster care, a mandate has been established to provide a family for every child that needs one.

To aid this, 56 parents received capacity building for improved parenting skills in the first half of 2022, while 90 parents are expected to benefit in the second half.

During the review period, 47 per cent of children affected by child abuse who were placed in formal care (institutional and foster care) were reunified and reintegrated with families.

The Community Advocate Network also established 15 community partnerships to support child care and protection.

In the first half, 47 community partners were trained to identify child abuse and work with vulnerable families. Further, in collaboration with two Child Advocacy Centres supported by Government, 2,191 reported child abuse cases were investigated, and 80 children who were placed in safe houses, received support services during the review period.