The newly created Ministry of Investment, Innovation and Social Development (MIISD) is reporting that its already making early inroads into a number of issues in its remit.
Headed by Hon. Min. for Investment, Innovation and Social Development, André Ebanks, the new "Social Development" pillar includes the Needs Assessment Unit, the Department of Children and Family Services, the Sunrise Adult Training Centre, Children and Youth Services (CAYS) Foundation, the Housing Repairs Committee and the Adoption Board.
"The PACT Government is committed to re-imagining social development,” Min. Ebanks explained.
“We intend to deliver on a decade of reforms that were not prioritised previously. The unfortunate reality is that Cayman's most vulnerable and disadvantaged people have been sidelined and frustrated by unduly burdensome bureaucracy, outdated policies and procedures and IT systems," he added.
A supporting statement from the ministry says “re-imagining social development firstly means developing a coordinated strategy to solve deep-rooted, long-standing problems with modern solutions, as recommended by the Office of the Auditor-General in the follow-up on past PAC (Public Accounts Committee) Recommendations Report dated August 2021.
It says that to begin to address the recommendations of such report comprehensively, the PACT Government has grouped the relevant departments and units within a Ministry whose remit is also investment and innovation.
“The PACT Government is committed to delivering streamlined and transparent processes that underpin government's social assistance and services, both in internal management and in delivery,” the ministry said.
Min. Ebanks also shared that the new ministry’s social development pillar reflects both short term and long term challenges, including the serious deficiencies he said that were identified many years ago but have gone unaddressed.
"I am very optimistic that the entire Ministry team, departments, and units will utilise their expertise, enthusiasm and innovative thinking to bring about meaningful and measurable changes within the critical subject of social development in the Cayman Islands,” the minister stated.
Parliamentary Secretary for Social Development Heather Bodden added that "the newly constituted Ministry puts social development front and center of our Government's reform agenda. Those who are eligible for Government assistance and services deserve to be served with efficient and modern processes."
Pointing to some of the highlights of its work in social development between May and August this year, the Ministry listed:
Consolidation of multiple reports about Cayman's social development programs, to inform overall strategy and identify key priorities.
Conducting a broad review and audit which identified an urgent need to update and/or create a swathe of legislation, regulation and policy to improve social services for Cayman's most vulnerable people.
Ongoing budget work to ensure that sufficient financial resources are allocated by Government to support continuous and improved services by the entities that provide social services.
Actively supporting ongoing and future public activities of DCFS and Sunrise Adult Training Center.
Liaising with the Governor's office to complete the UN's Rights of the Child report, as a British Overseas Territory.
It also reports that it has been been involved in operational improvements, including initial meetings with each department and unit to understand their challenges and desired improvements.
Site visits were also undertaken to key residential care facilities resulting in immediate action where possible and embarking on longer-term planning where needed.
Among these are progressing a purpose-built Sunrise Adult Training Center, reviewing and reforming processes and policies across departments to improve service to the public, and reactivating the Housing Repair Committee which has been dormant since the end of 2019.
The Ministry also says it is supporting the roll-out of digital infrastructure for the Needs Assessment Unit(NAU), an example of which is a plan endorsed by Min. Ebanks Ebanks to create and launch a dedicated NAU website to streamline access to its services.
These and other initiatives are planned to be launched within the next few months.