JIS News

The Programme for Advancement through Health and Education (PATH) will be re-certifying beneficiaries during this financial year, in keeping with its thrust to improve operational efficiency.
Speaking to JIS News, Director of Social Security and PATH in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Colette Roberts-Risden, said that the re-certification process is to ensure that persons receiving benefits are still eligible to be on the programme and also to include more beneficiaries.
She noted that while 80 per cent of PATH beneficiaries are from the poorest social quintile, the Ministry wishes to capture more persons who are genuinely in need. “The re-certification exercise,” she stated, “is to commence late in this financial year, and we’re currently in the process of procuring the firm to undertake the exercise.”
“One of our major challenges is to identify those needy persons, who have been excluded from the programme. When you look at our 80 per cent [margin] it means that 8 out of 10 persons are really in need but we also know that there are persons who are excluded, who are genuinely in need,” she added.
PATH currently has 236,000 beneficiaries, but has the capacity to accommodate 252,000 people.
“When the programme was being designed in 2001,” she explained, “the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) looked at the vulnerable groups in the society where the poverty levels were and that was how the numbers were arrived at.”
The programme targets poor families to include children, the elderly, the disabled, and pregnant and lactating women. Children from birth to 17 years old account for 68 per cent of the total number of beneficiaries; the elderly accounts for 28 per cent; the disabled, 3 per cent, and less than 1 per cent are pregnant and lactating women.
“We know for example that the majority of the poor are children and hence the focus of the programme is skewed toward children and increasing their educational attainment so that they can move out of poverty,” Roberts-Risden told JIS News.
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 addresses poverty by providing cash grants and other benefits. Once accepted on the programme, children are required to have at least an 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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