DCFS boss says law boosted child abuse workload

| 13/09/2017 | 36 Comments

(CNS): The number of reported cases of children being neglected or abused and at risk in some way has increased significantly since the introduction of mandatory reporting under the children’s law. Speaking recently to the Public Accounts Committee, Felicia Robinson, the director of the Department of Children and Family Services said that child protection was the main priority for her department and staff were trying to do the best they could with what they had.

Robinson explained to the members of PAC that the main reason for separating the Needs Assessment Unit and the wider family services department was because qualified social workers who should be focused on children in need were getting bogged down with means assessments over cash payments for indigent people.

She said that social workers found it difficult to meet the new mandate alongside other administrative tasks, and that once the NAU was created, social workers began targeting child work.

But hat created a new problem: because staff in the Needs Assessment Unit were focused solely on financial assistance, when clients came in their wider “social needs somehow got lost”.

The director suggested that it was up to the ministry to make a strategic decision going forward as to how it would handle case management in future, but she was under the impression that the option in the outline business case that has been prepared by KPMG would see the clients handled through an integrated case management approach rather than the re-integration of the NAU with the DCFS.

With the introduction of legislation to protect children, which requires everyone in the relevant fields to report concerns, there has been a notable increase in reports of potential child abuse. Robinson indicated that there were a lot of children at risk in the Cayman Islands and that had to be her department’s priority. She also told the committee that she did not have adequate resources to handle the mounting workload.

Outlining some of the challenges regarding the issue of kids at risk, Robinson said that the department wanted to be more proactive, rather than just responding to the many reports coming in from many sources. She said the social workers needed to get out into the community to try and address the circumstances some children are in before the abuse begins or children fall into crime. She said that since the law came into effect, the DCFS department has placed a considerable focus on that work and has been strengthening interventions and building connections in the community to keep children safe.

But Robinson highlighted a significant shortage of foster families and safe places for children who need protection. She said the struggle to find suitable foster parents was compounded by the department’s lack of ability to properly fund the placement of children, which in some cases requires carers to put in an enormous amount of intensive work.

Some of the children are suffering from significant emotional and behavioral problems as well as mental health problems and disabilities, placing a lot of responsibility on foster parents. She said the DCFS was struggling to find the families that could provide safe spaces and then give them the financial contribution they need.

“We need more people to step up to help change what is happening to so many children,” she said.

With a mounting workload for her social workers on child abuse and neglect problems, she said that the department was being challenged further as it is also responsible for elderly people who need help too. Given that the new law has now been passed and a new policy being implemented, Robinson warned that the department would need extra funding if it was to cope with its workload.

“Like everywhere, we have an aging population,” she noted, pointing out that they would need more social workers to support seniors as well.

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Category: Government oversight, Local News, Politics

Comments (36)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    lets face it people- dcfs doesnt play well with others!!!!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t DCFS suppose to provide therapeutic services and social programs to address the families social needs as per their website. See info below and visit site at http://www.dcfs.gov.ky/portal/page/portal/sochome. So why are the suggesting NAU would do the same when this is their responsibility. The Director may need to read up on what her department is supposed to be doing. This is like asking the NAU to also be drug counselors and mental health professionals. Would you not just refer the families to the right agency? Seems she is trying to pass on her responsibilities instead of dealing with these issues. Social programs should be at the department that deals with social issues and not at the NAU. The NAU per their website at http://www.gov.ky/portal/page/portal/nauhome/what-we-do deals with the financial needs of these families. However, it is for the Ministry to ensure the agencies are doing what they were setup to do but I guess from the PAC recording we see that too is an issue. God be with these children and families as it seems the Ministry is unable to solver these issues and DCFS Director isn’t even aware of what the department’s responsibilities are to the public.

    “The Department of Children & Family Services exists to encourage and promote self-sufficiency; to advocate, motivate and educate individuals and families, empowering them to realize their full potential thus functioning effectively as members of our society. This will be achieved through the provision of therapeutic services and community based programmes enhanced by ongoing research and in partnership with key stakeholders.”

    “Scope of Activities
    Needs Assessment Unit
    Provision and management of a scope of public welfare services, inclusive of poor relief, school lunches, food vouchers and burial assistance.
    Conduct needs assessments for poor relief, medical and temporary assistance.
    Work in collaboration with the Education Department, Health Services and other related agencies.
    Policy advice relating to the activities and areas of expertise of the Unit.”

  3. Anonymous says:

    I understand that people are upset in regards to the post how many of those offenders are expats and I acknowledge that there are Caymanian families who have consistently swept child abuse/incest under the rug.

    However, let’s get over the political correctness for a minute and just think about what a statistic which breaks down the percentage of Caymanians and Expats, age group, etc may show.

    For example, if there is a number of expats who have been granted work permits, residency or status are amongst those sex offenders, there is obviously a serious flaw with the screening done by immigration and employers. Whilst sex offenders are also a home grown issue, we don’t need to add to it and import it. So if showing such statistic would ultimately result in enhanced background checks and screening to be done by immigration, police, employers and ultimately reduce the number of potential sex offenders coming to the Island, this would be a win for everyone.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Social workers in Cayman need retraining because in my experience (I am a school deputy head), they do not do their jobs properly. They need pushing to visit homes, attend multidisciplinary meetings and they do not keep anyone informed about what’s going on with particular children, especially schools.
    That said, neglected children stay neglected because there is no where else for them to go. The Cayman government need to organise proper (and I mean proper, not some random neighbor who lives down the road) foster care for these children. They are suffering, but there is nowhere else for them to go! The children are identified as being abused and then what? The social worker tries to get the parent to tow the line, but if there is no threat of losing their child, why should they tow the line? The parent has the upper hand. I know it is best to keep a child with their family, but only if things improve at home and in many cases it does not. So many children on our beautful island have mental health issues because of their home life. It is heart breaking to see.

  5. Lo-Cal says:

    How many of the abusers have multiple abuse charges against them? Some people are of the opinion that an abuser can be rehabilitated and put back in the community and all is well and dandy. If we deal with the problem the first time I am pretty sure that the number of abused will dramatically drop.

    I propose ultra harsh sentencing for abusers inclusive of life time sentences.

  6. Anonymous says:

    A large majority are indigenous offenders in family, extended family and friends, coach, clergy – someone that is known and trusted by family

  7. Anonymous says:

    How many of the alleged abusers are not Caymanian or have been granted status? Why are our immigration laws not being used more effectively to curtail at least some of this horrific problem?

    • Anonymous says:

      Why are you trying to blame this on ex-pats? The sexual abuse of children has been an integral (albeit carefully hidden) part of Cayman Islands culture for decades and has in the past allegedly involved a number of very high profile individuals. It’s a local problem not one that’s been imported – once people get used to that we’ll be moving along the way towards dealing with it properly.

      • Anonymous says:

        I simply asked how many! I do not care if it is 5% or 50%. All I am saying is that whatever the level is, anyone in that category should be carefully and efficiently considered for deportation. That does not seem to be happening. I do not believe that every abuser is a generational Caymanian. Indeed, I know of some serious physical abusers of both women and children, who are not. Yet they are here, and remain, and do it again, and remain…


        • Anonymous says:

          10:50 And to date how many of these ex-pats have been convicted of child sex crimes?

          As you know clearly who they are why haven’t you reported them?

        • Anonymous says:

          Why? Because they haven’t been convicted.

          • Anonymous says:

            So. Read our laws. A conviction is not always necessary to (for example) deny the renewal of a work permit.

            • Anonymous says:

              5:02 pm ask how many work permit/ expats have committed crimes and have obtained work permits. They are charged and taken to court. What happens after? Only in the Cayman Islands.
              Who were the criminals that killed Estella? What was their status?

            • Anonymous says:

              Or renew a government contract, for example where the foreign national repeatedly violently abusing his wife is a police officer!

    • Anonymous says:

      You’re asking why the entity that hires expats over Qualified Caymanians (see PAC for Sept 6) is not enforcing the immigration laws??!!! Laughable.

    • Lomart says:

      Child abuse has been prevalent in the Cayman Islands for as far back as most can remember. Why are we searching for non-Caymanians to tack the blame to? We are truly pathetic when it comes to admitting our own faults and defects.

      • Anonymous says:

        From what I have seen in recent cases, The Police, the courts, and the public all are aligned against a child coming forward that has been raped of molested. It is a dirty secret that must be kept for the sake of Family name. It takes one person to injure a child it takes a community to allow it.

      • Anonymous says:

        11:03am that does not mean we should not call out imported criminals, if they are engaging in such activity. Expose all.

    • Seadonkey says:

      WTF @8:06am why are you trying to turn this into an immigration discussion.
      You sound like a Trump supporter, who thinks all terrorist come from foreign when domestic terrorism occurs at an exponential rate, compared to foreign threats/ terrorist.

      The people who are abusing/ neglecting children in the Cayman Islands, are mainly Caymanian (whether by birth or paper, doesn’t matter).

      And to your point, suppose the foreigners are abusing their OWN children, do we just ship them out and…. leave the child here with 1 parent, no parents, send the child back with the foreign abusive parent……??

      Yeah, of course if we have foreigners who are culprits, after conviction, they are deported. Please refer to the case of the guy from Central America I think, who was working for an AC company here and went to work on a house with a little girl….

      And lastly, your comment at 10:50am, if you know some serious abusers of women and children, please list their names here, or at the very least, report them and keep reporting them.

      • Anonymous says:

        I know them because I read about them in the papers. They are already before the courts. They are frequently convicted. They are NEVER deported.

        • Anonymous says:

          7:05 pm reason being, they are married to a Caymanian, which should not be reason fir them to remain here. Past time to drain our swamp. Deal with home grown locals, call them out and let the Courts do justice.

        • Jotnar says:

          Never? Stephens to be deported after serving sentence despite being married to a Caymanian. Garcia the ac guy to be deported after serving 12 years. Your reading of the papers seems to be clouded by your preconceptions. Try dealing in facts rather than preconceptions.

      • Anonymous says:

        In your example, yes you send the parent off! They may be a biological parent, but they are not nurturing their child. The child should be protected from them, not forced to live with them, and my children should not be forced to live next to them.

        Local abusers are our problem. We have to deal with them. Foreign abusers we can imprison and deport. We choose to have to deal with them even after we release them. That is insanity.

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