The Board of Supervision of the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development has acquired the Client Service Tracker Software, to assist in developing the Information Identification Homeless Database System (IIHS), to track the homeless.
The client service tracker technology is a Microsoft access database. This software captures a person’s data, including a photograph.
Making his contribution to the 2012/13 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on July 11, Minister of State in the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Colin Fagan, informed that the system seeks to solve the problem of identifying the homeless, accounting for them in numbers as well as areas that they frequent.
He further informed that a Point in Time Survey of all homeless persons on the streets of Jamaica is scheduled to be conducted in the first week of November this year.
“Hopefully, at the end of these activities the system will have a photo of the homeless person as well as capture the necessary demographic details, such as name, age, gender, locations, education, family life, employment, self-reported health status, nutrition, the main illnesses, abuse and substance abuse, the reasons for homelessness, the length of time being homeless and the nature of previous living arrangements, and the support structures that are in place from their perspective,” Mr. Fagan said.
He noted that each Inspector of the Poor in the Parish Council will have access to this database with all the relevant information, noting that they will also be able to view the photograph, even if the homeless person moves from parish to parish.
"The system will include assigning a unique number to identify all homeless persons, so that they can be better traced and provided with the necessary support services,” he said.
Turning to the benefits, the State Minister said it will: provide a count of the number of homeless adults on the streets and in the shelters across Jamaica; provide data on the number of shelter nights for any period under review; identify shelter programmes or who reside in the shelter; allow for Case Notes to be added to a client’s record; and allow for the tracking of services to the client, for example, counselling and referral to hospital.
Mr. Fagan said the Ministry will continue to provide budgetary support for the various programmes to assist with the continuing care of the homeless in Jamaica, adding that the budgetary allocation was increased from $15.8 million to $19.98 million in the 2012/13 Estimates of Expenditure, to assist with feeding programmes being facilitated by the Local Authorities.
"We are moving ahead with the welfare of our homeless and the Board of Supervision will continue to play its vital role in its co-ordinating of services and public sensitisation,” he said.
The Board of Supervision is a statutory body that has legal oversight for the relief of poverty and destitution among members of the Jamaican society, as well as for monitoring and setting standards for the island’s 14 infirmaries.
By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter