The minister noted that cases have been reported, concerning social ills against children, but still she said the process was delayed. “We need to follow up.” Coudray emphasised.
The minister was at the time addressing yesterday dozens of social workers at a social work meeting held at Cara Suites Hotel and Conference Centre in Claxton Bay.
Speaking on the theme of the meeting “Partnering to safeguard : Our children and families”, the minister said, while acknowledging that social workers worked hard, she was not seeing results in terms of the amount of money that was being put out by the Government. “I spoke to the Permanent Secretary, Sandra Jones, and she said maybe we could bring everybody together and talk to find out from you the social workers, what is preventing you from doing your job effectively?”Coudray asked. Adding she said, “I see that you are working , but the process is not moving.”
The minister noted she took up office in June, and she has seen files concerning reports of cases, but the process is slow, and the issues are not moving. “ I look at the file, and I just see an update every week; every month I get a report. We have the issue of the boy who was living in the kennel, and while this might be a police matter, it is a human matter. What has happened to him.? We need to follow up.” Coudray urged.
She continued, “We are here to make a difference in people’s lives, particularly children, and I maintain that we have a lost generation of children, but this ministry is focused on children. This is why we need to bring resources together to ensure these follow ups.” said Coudray.
She revealed that the social work meeting would be the first in a series of others. “We need to find out what is missing , because we are really missing something. You need to tell us where we can do better .” the minister emphasised.
Social workers present represented different ministries such as: Education, People and Social Development, Justice, Health, Community development, National security, University of the West Indies, COSTAATT, University of the Southern Caribbean and others.
During the open forum social workers raised issues of lack of manpower to effectively perform jobs, lack of homes for children , the unavailability of a family court in different areas. Other issues included, poor working conditions, and lack of resources.
One member representing the Education Ministry raised the point that there were only 33 social workers assigned to all the school across the country, which she said was woefully inadequate . “With crime being prevalent in school there is a case overload, and a lot of work for one person. And social work is really needed in our schools.” she said.
Another pressing issue raised was the clash and overlap of work between social workers and guidance officers. Other speakers included: UWI lecturer Karene- Anne Nathaniel-Decares, child development specialist Candice Henry — Wallace, and others.