The Ministry of Labour and Social Security’s programme of assistance for persons with disabilities has been boosted by a $250 million grant from the Japan Social Intervention Fund.
The provision, which is being channeled through the World Bank, is in addition to a $56 million grant, which was recently secured through the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Derrick Kellier, who made the disclosure during his contribution to the 2013/14 Sectoral Debate in Parliament on Tuesday, June 4, said the funds are being used for “institutional strengthening” of agencies dealing with persons with disabilities.
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Additionally, he said, the provisions will be used to develop the skills of persons with disabilities in order to enable them to secure jobs, as well as to provide grants for entrepreneurial activities.
One of the areas slated to benefit significantly, Mr. Kellier informed, is the Ministry’s Early Stimulation Programme (ESP).
He disclosed that the programme, which caters to approximately 1,500 children with various types of developmental disabilities, has recorded a significant increase in the number of youngsters registered, over the past five years. He pointed out that the programme has a waiting list of over 200 children.
“The Ministry is aware of the importance of early detection, intervention, and stimulation of children, and moreso children with special needs. In this regard, I am pleased to announce that the grant funding, will include components for strengthening the delivery of service to young children with special needs, training of workers catering to the developmental needs of children, and providing technical assistance to the ESP,” he outlined.
Mr. Kellier assured that the Ministry will continue efforts to expand the programme’s offering beyond Kingston and Portland, to other sections of the island where children with special needs have been identified.
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He said that the undertaking will require collaboration with other “like-minded” private and public sector entities.
“We are currently in discussions with a new private sector partner that has expressed an interest in working with us in expanding the reach of the ESP. We welcome their willingness to participate in this area and hope that we will soon officially welcome them, as partners, in what should be a long and fruitful collaboration,” the Minister said.
Mr. Kellier also expressed gratitude to Jamaica’s development partners, such as the IDB, World Bank, and Japan Social Intervention Fund, for the on-going support provided, which has facilitated improvements to the quality of life for persons with disabilities.
“I must also…thank those long serving non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that continue to partner with us to provide services for or advocate on behalf of persons with disabilities,” he added.
Contact: Douglas McIntosh