Approximately 6,700 persons have been identified under the Beneficiary Identification System (BIS), a joint initiative between the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH) and the Registrar General’s Department (RGD).
Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on May 22, Director General at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Faith Innerarity, said that the purpose of the BIS is to identify the most vulnerable persons in the society, in an effort to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty in Jamaica.
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“The selection process of recruiting PATH beneficiaries is approached very carefully, which usually begins from the standpoint of the household. So, basically a detailed assessment of the family unit is conducted, which involves all members, to facilitate the procedure,” she explained.
In addition, she mentioned the Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions (JSLC), one of the instruments used to measure poverty, for which applicants are required to complete, in order to become a beneficiary.
“We look at whether the head of the household is employed, educational level, the size of the family, age range, type of housing structure, assets owned by the family unit, as well as facilities to which they have access,” she noted.
Mrs. Innerarity also informed that PATH conducts Case Management, which involves the intervention of social workers, who constantly interact with families across the island, and make recommendations, depending on the nature of the situation.
“We make referrals to various agencies, to ensure that individual needs are met at all levels. Whatever difficulties families are experiencing, that would prevent children from attending school, are normally addressed. For example, the parents may be unemployed, or if someone in the household is ailing, we try to assist as best as possible,” she said.
Mrs. Innerarity told JIS News that the Ministry has been steadfast in its efforts to ensure that children, who are a part of the programme, receive the highest level of education, despite their socio-economic background.
“In 2008 PATH introduced the differentiated Payments for Education Benefit, aimed at protecting children andyoung people from economic and social exploitation. Importantly, we encourage PATH families to send adolescents to school, especially boys, who are prone to drop out of secondary school at that level,” she said.
She added that under the Programme, senior citizens, pregnant and lactating mothers can also access basic health care, at public health facilities islandwide.
“For pregnant and lactating mothers, antenatal and postnatal care are provided to this particular target group. Our aim is for more persons to be a part of the social protection plan, the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), so elderly persons will not need to rely on a programme, such as PATH,” she said.
She noted that older persons who have contributed to the NIS, and are currently receiving a pension, are not eligible to receive PATH benefits, because they are already beneficiaries under the contributory scheme.
PATH is a conditional cash transfer programme, which has been providing assistance to the most vulnerable in society, since its inception in 2002.
By Jeneva Gordon, JIS PRO