A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is to be signed between theMinistry of Labour and Social Security through its agency, the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD), and the Registrar General’s Department (RGD) to assist persons with disabilities who do not have birth certificates, to secure these under the National Identification System (NIDS) project.
Executive Director of the JCDP, Dr. Christine Hendricks, who made the disclosure in an interview with JIS News, said the initiative came about following two town hall meetings organized by the Council in May.
The participants included representatives of several private and public sector entities who were engaged in dialogue with persons with disabilities from several parishes on issues affecting them, including not having birth certificates.
Dr. Hendricks explained that persons will get assistance to cover the cost for assessments in order to get their birth certificates, adding that “we are in the process of finalizing the MoU.”
“We know that (for) persons with developmental disabilities and autism (among other challenges), the assessment process being done by clinical psychologists is very costly. So for those who are unable to pay, there will be assistance (from the NIDS project) to help them get their birth certificates as well as other assistance that is needed,” she informed.
Dr. Hendricks encourages persons with disabilities to register with the Council in order to access this and other benefits.
“Good things are happening for persons with disabilities and that is why I continue to implore persons to register, because only persons registered with the JCPD can benefit,” she said.
The RGD is to be transformed into the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA). Work facilitating this is slated to commence during the 2018/19 fiscal year.
The RGD’s Chief Executive Officer, Deirdre English Gosse, said the MoU is currently being reviewed by the entities’ legal teams.
“Based on our previous meetings, we found out that there are a lot of persons with disabilities who do not have birth certificates. We are trying, basically, to provide persons who have been registered with the JCPD with birth certificates,” she explained.
Outreach activities for the initiative, which will be undertaken islandwide, are being funded through the NIDS project. These include health and wellness fairs organized by the RGD.
“All they have to do is show up and once we get the proper information from them, we will process and provide them with a birth certificate. We hope that persons will come out and we will get a significant number of persons with disabilities, so they can get their birth certificates. It will help them to be included in the National Identification System project, once that gets underway,” Mrs. English Gosse said.
NIDS, which is scheduled for implementation in 2019, will provide a comprehensive and secure structure to capture and store identity information for all Jamaicans.
Under the system, each citizen will be provided with a randomised nine-digit National Identification Number (NIN), which they will have for life.