In addition to this new measure, Social Assistance Officers (SAOs), who are essential in the provision of all Social Services, have been appointed for each zone, to work with residents in the various communities.
According to the recently appointed Supervisor of Social Development, Mrs. Denise Byron-Morris, Zone 1 consists of East Basseterre including Conaree and St. Peter’s, Zone 2 – College Street to West Farm, Zone 3 – West Basseterre to Sandy Point, Zone 4 – Sandy Point
Among the activities that is expected to benefit from the zonal structure will be the School Uniform Program, which is designed to help Kittitian parents who fall within a lower income bracket, and are faced with great difficulty in outfitting their children for the start of the upcoming school year.
Mrs. Denise Byron-Morris said that while the Programme is geared toward the indigent and poor, anyone who is financially challenged can apply. She gave the example of a crisis such as the loss of the family bread-winners job, noting that each application is looked at on a case by case basis.
She said the School Uniform Programme application process is presently taking place, along with similar procedures for other Social Services. Activities such as these fall under the Social Safety Net initiative of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.
The process requires that applicants give essential basic information such as names, addresses,’ the most recent pay-slip and provide details of their utility bills. Mrs. Byron-Morris revealed that whereas previously it was satisfactory to state the amount of each bill, the applicants now have to bring actual bills which are then verified by the Department. She explained that this is necessary to ensure that there is meaningful assessment of the parent’s inability to purchase the uniform.
In relation to the School Uniform Programme procedure, Supervisor Byron-Morris said that following the Schools’ Easter Break, the SAOs schedule the uniform application appointments. She explained that the sessions usually take place in schools or community centers, in the specified Zones after working hours, to accommodate the parents. Persons who are unable to meet these times can also make special requests for appointments at the community centers where the SAOs are stationed, during working hours.
Mrs. Byron-Morris stressed that her Ministry and the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis is committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals of 2015 which are designed to assist developing countries in eradicating poverty. She said that this undertaking includes sustaining the 98 percent literacy rate, and the high performance standing of students of the Federation.
“The School Uniform Programme has one central goal,” Mrs. Byron-Morris stressed. “That is to ensure that school children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary, secondary and tertiary schooling. To do this we have to eliminate the financial restrictions – including the cost of uniforms, travel, books and examination fees.” The Supervisor emphasized that while her Department does its part by providing uniforms, the Ministry of Education assists students with transportation, books and examination fees.