JIS News

Assistant Director for the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH), Marcia Bolt is reminding parents that once their children are PATH beneficiaries, they are eligible to benefit from the government’s School Feeding Programme.
In an interview with JIS News, Miss Bolt noted that in order to benefit from the School Feeding Programme, students who would be attending a new school this academic year, should present their PATH family card to the school’s administration, as proof that they are on the programme.
“For example, a student who is entering primary school or secondary school at the grade one or grade seven level would, at registration, take in the PATH family card which lists the names of all beneficiaries. This or a cheque stub should be accepted by the school as proof that the child is on PATH,” she explained.
Parents of students who would not be attending a new school this September, Miss Bolt noted, should have no cause for concern, “because all the school would need to do is refer to a previous list.”
“Once you are a PATH child, we know what school you are attending. Each school receives a bi-monthly compliance list, which is what we use to check the child’s school attendance. The school would get the information for the continuing students,” Miss Bolt said.
Meanwhile, she is urging parents to ensure that their children attend school regularly in order to remain on the programme. “Persons who are in schools from ages six to 17 and beyond should be in school every day. The programme requires a minimum 85 per cent attendance rate in order for beneficiaries to be compliant,” she informed.
“That usually translates to an allowable absence of three days per month, unless the child is ill, in which case we require a medical certificate from a health centre or any medical professional, to confirm that the child was ill. We have other cases in which we will excuse absence. These include violence, either where the child lives or in the vicinity of the school, or natural disasters. Outside of that, the only excusable absence is illness,” Miss Bolt told JIS News.
Parents of younger children between birth to six years are expected to ensure that their children’s scheduled appointments at their health centres are kept. “The Ministry of Health has established an immunization schedule for children from birth to twelve months. Children on PATH are expected to adhere to this schedule, as the condition for receiving benefits,” the Assistant Director explained.
“Children between one and six years old are also expected to adhere to the immunization schedule, but in addition the programme requires a minimum of two visits per year to the health centres, once in the first half of the year and once in the second half,” she added.
Persons who are interested in joining the programme can apply at any of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security parish offices. “The procedure to benefit from the programme is very simple. A family becomes eligible for PATH once the family is poor and there are children up to 17 years old in that household.
Disabled individuals and elderly persons over 60 years old also qualify,” Project Director for PATH, Colette Roberts-Risden, pointed out to JIS News in a previous interview.
“A parent or guardian of a household can go into any of our offices with a valid identification and the birth certificates of all the children in that household. An interview is done and then an assessment is made. This assessment normally takes between 6 and 8 weeks to be completed,” she said.
The PATH programme was introduced islandwide in 2002, and is administered by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, with support from the Ministries of Health and Education and Youth.

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