Categorized | National News

Social Services Focuses on Family, Poverty

There are some very urgent needs in the Ministry of Social Services and the new minister said she plans to get the ball rolling by tackling those immediate needs “head on.”

Speaking to the Bahama Journal recently, Melanie Griffin said re-building the family has to be the focus of her ministry because it is the foundation of the Bahamian society.

More than half of Bahamian children are being born outside the marriage, according to the minister.

“I think there is an urgent need for the building of the family and in so doing we have for example the Child Protection Act, which came into force but has never been fully implemented and I believe we need to ensure the full implementation of that legislation so it can have its fullest impact on the country and on the developing of families,” she said.

“The family is the bedrock of society and once we have dysfunctional families, we will continue to have serious problems for the entire country and so we must work diligently that we rescue the families. We also have issues concerning poverty. Poverty in our country is widespread and we do have the social safety net reform that we would have started during our first administration and we want to continue with that so you will be hearing a lot more about that later.”

Mrs. Griffin added that another immediate need will be focusing on the Persons with Disabilities and Equal Opportunities Bill.

“Again that was something we worked on when we were in office and the former administration did some work on it so we now want to proceed and bring it to fruition, “the social services minister said.

“Those people have been waiting diligently for that legislation for a long time. I also want to be able to deal with the structure at the ministry. Over several years you would’ve heard the social workers crying out and that’s because much of their needs have not been met and because of that the frustration and the overwhelming work have led to some inefficiencies in the system.”

Mrs. Griffin said the social workers’ concerns must be resolved so that clients can be serviced in a more efficient manner.

However, the minister stressed that the family remains priority and she will do all that she can to ensure that programmes are put in place to assist parents, specifically single mothers, as well as young people.

“Statistics indicate that up to the 1960s only 30 per cent of children were born out of wedlock and 70 per cent were born to married couples,” she said recently.

“Today, these numbers are reversed. More than 60 per cent of all children are now born out of wedlock. I believe that this number is too high and we must ask ourselves the questions, why it is so and what do we have to do to reverse it?”

Mrs. Griffin said in the past, single mothers had the support of extended families, so although children did not have a father in the home they had older cousins, uncles and grandparents to watch over and care for them.

“Regretfully, with the collapse of the extended family, this is no longer the case and children are often left on their own to do as they wish while their mothers seek to earn a living,” she said.

Sasha Lightbourne

Written by Sasha Lightbourne

Journal Staff Writer

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