JIS News

As part of back-to-school preparations, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security has advised parents, who benefit under the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), to ensure that their children’s names are on the PATH beneficiary list at their school.
“At this time of the year, when a lot of children are transitioning (to other schools), our database may not be 100 per cent current, so we ask parents to check and ensure that their child’s name is on the list” said Director for the PATH Programme, Colette Roberts-Risden.
Mrs. Roberts-Risden, who was speaking to JIS News in an interview, said that “this is to ensure that they (children) are not denied or excluded from any benefits that they are entitled to within the school system”.
Outlining some of the benefits, she noted that “if the child is attending a government high school, then the government pays their tuition fees and their rental fees. If the child is attending a government school where there is a government school feeding programme, then the child is entitled to free lunches if the child is in need of lunch on any particular day.”
The Director informed that if the child’s name is not on the PATH list, the school may expect the parent to pay the school fees.
According to Mrs. Roberts-Risden “one of the main problems that can arise by October or November if the child’s name is not updated on our database, is that the child’s benefits may be suspended”.
The reason for this, she explained, is “because PATH pays beneficiaries based on school attendance and attendance to clinics and health centres so if when we begin checking the schools in October for school attendance records for the children, and we don’t get the attendance record for that child, then the family may not receive payment for the child.”
She stressed that for children, who are transitioning to another school, parents need to report that change to the Ministry’s parish offices and for those, who are continuing at the same institution, parents should begin checking the school list by the end of September.
PATH was introduced in 2002 to replace three social assistance programmes – outdoor poor relief, food stamp, and the public assistance programmes. It is administered by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security in collaboration with the Ministries of Health and Education.
The programme targets poor families, the elderly, the disabled, and pregnant and lactating women, by providing cash grants and other benefits.
There are about 160,000 children from birth to 17 years receiving benefits under the programme. Once accepted, children are required to have at least 85 per cent school attendance, while all beneficiaries are required to visit their health centres twice per year for routine checks.

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