PATH Operations to be Decentralised


By March 2008, the operations of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security will be decentralised with the implementation of a Management Information System (MIS).
This initiative is part of the Ministry’s drive to improve operational efficiency at the parish office level, especially as this relates to the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH)Speaking at a JIS Think Tank held at the agency’s Half Way Tree Road head office recently, Director of Social Security and PATH, Colette Roberts-Risden, said that in addition to increasing operational efficiency, the database would serve to improve customer service, as information on PATH beneficiaries could be processed and accessed at all parish offices, instead of primarily at the Ministry’s head office.
“By March 2008, we wish to implement a fully functional management information system that is user friendly, decentralized, and functions as a management tool for the programme. We operate through the parish offices, but a lot of the functions still happen centrally; application forms come to us centrally (for processing), and the selection process is done centrally, even though the programme is administered locally,” she informed.
“With the implementation of a new MIS system,” she advised, “many of these functions will be decentralized to the parish offices.”
Noting that data entry for application forms is currently done locally, Mrs. Roberts-Risden said that other functions to be decentralized include the entry of beneficiary compliance information as well as family cases, which would serve to reduce the length of time it takes for these to be done by the head office.
“A major aspect we are looking at in terms of the MIS, is to be able to manage our cases electronically where the social worker would actually keep case files on the system. so anyone (at the parish offices) who opens that file would be able to know exactly what is happening with that family,” she noted.
In the meantime, she said that the Ministry is also working on the National Assistance Act, which is expected to come on stream by the end of this financial year. The Act would regulate how PATH is administered, and would replace the Poor Relief Act of 1896.
“One of the things we are looking at is the enactment of the National Assistance Act, which would enshrine the approach that PATH uses for selecting beneficiaries, as well as the responsibilities of beneficiaries upon receipt of assistance,” the Director explained.
“That legislation (Poor Relief Act) is old and many things have changed since then.and we need a modern legislation to guide our approach to social assistance in Jamaica and it is the intention that the National Assistance Act will repeal the Poor Relief Act,” she noted.
PATH, established in 2002, replaced three social assistance programmes namely: the Outdoor Poor Relief Programme, the Food Stamp Programme, and the Public Assistance Programme.
The main objectives of the programme are to increase educational attainment, improve physical health, reduce child labour, reduce poverty and serve as a safety net for the poor and vulnerable.

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