Hundreds of Inner-City Residents Receive Birth Certificates Through JSIF Initiative

Photo: Mark Bell General Manager, Project Management, Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), Loy Malcolm (left); Managing Director of JSIF, Omar Sweeney (centre), and Chief Executive Officer of the Registrar General’s Department (RGD), Deirdre English Gosse sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on January 23 in Kingston. Under the MOU, 4,200 residents from 18 Integrated Community Development Project (ICDP) communities are to receive birth certificates. Standing is Programme Officer for JSIF, Dawn Allison.

Story Highlights

  • More than 1,300 persons from several inner-city communities have received birth certificates under a joint initiative between the Registrar General’s Department (RGD) and the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) through its Operation Certification programme.
  • Launched in January of this year, the programme aims to assist at-risk youth, aged 15 to 29, across 18 participating Integrated Community Development Project (ICDP) communities to obtain their birth certificates as an initial step in integrating them into society.
  • The initiative is part of the US$42-million World Bank-funded ICDP, which aims to promote public safety and social transformation through the delivery of basic infrastructure and social services in 18 communities islandwide.

More than 1,300 persons from several inner-city communities have received birth certificates under a joint initiative between the Registrar General’s Department (RGD) and the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) through its Operation Certification programme.

Launched in January of this year, the programme aims to assist at-risk youth, aged 15 to 29, across 18 participating Integrated Community Development Project (ICDP) communities to obtain their birth certificates as an initial step in integrating them into society.

Some 4,200 persons are to be provided with birth certificates by the end of the year under the programme.

The project, which costs $6.6 million, includes a data-collection/civil documentation component to generate Taxpayer Registration Numbers (TRNs), birth certificates and other documents for the beneficiaries.

Under the project, 60 data collectors and seven supervisors have been employed to interview and register residents by conducting household visits and attending community and other stakeholder meetings.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the RGD, Deirdre English Gosse, tells JIS News it is important for all persons to have a birth certificates, as it is the base document for all forms of identification such as the tax registration number (TRN), passport, electoral ID and driver’s licence.

Mrs. English Gosse cites some of the challenges faced by persons who do not have a government-issued birth certificate, including difficulties in securing employment and accessing social benefits.

“You use the birth certificate to get your Tax Registration Number (TRN). Many employers require that employees or applicants have the TRN, so that they can process their documents,” she explains.

“Not having a birth certificate can block them from being able to access benefits under the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) and they miss out on the opportunity to apply for these benefits. Without a birth certificate, it makes it difficult for persons to be admitted in school. These are just some of the difficulties people have if they don’t have a birth certificate,” the CEO adds.

Mrs. English Gosse further informs that without a birth certificate, persons will not be able to access benefits under the National Insurance Scheme (NIS).

“As a pensioner, one of the things you need to establish is that you qualify for a pension. A birth certificate is, therefore, critical for persons to prove that they are entitled to NIS pension,” she points out.

The CEO notes that home births, lack of financial resources and a general lack of understanding of the importance of the document are some of the reasons why some persons are without birth certificates.

She tells JIS News that the current birth certificate registration programme aims to provide an opportunity for those persons who never received a certificate at birth to obtain this vital document.

In addition to being registered for new birth certificates, persons can also apply for correction of errors or to add the family name to the document.

The RGD is staging fairs across the ICDP communities to provide site registration services for residents in the areas. Persons can also register at any of the nine RGD offices islandwide.

Mrs. English Gosse is reminding members of the public that the Certificate of Registry (the pink slip issued to parents in the hospitals that bears the child’s birth entry number, the birth registration, parish, district and the sequence of births registered in the year the child was born) is not an official document.

Parents should apply for an official birth certificate at the RGD office as soon as the child is born.

“Many persons make the mistake of using this pink slip as evidence of registration; but it is not a birth certificate. We, therefore, ask that persons carry the pink slip to any RGD office islandwide and use the birth registration number printed on it to find you in our database and use that to produce a computer-generated birth certificate,” she says.

Without this base document, she points out that persons have challenges conducting essential transactions that require persons to provide identification.

“It is important to have a birth certificate to get identification for simple transactions like opening an account. You can’t do this if you can’t identify yourself. You need a birth certificate to get other forms of identification, such as a passport. Many Jamaicans use their passport as identification. Here again you need the birth certificate to get a passport,” Mrs. English Gosse emphasises.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the Operation Certification programme was signed between the RGD and JSIF on January 23.

The initiative is part of the US$42-million World Bank-funded ICDP, which aims to promote public safety and social transformation through the delivery of basic infrastructure and social services in 18 communities islandwide.

JIS Social