Social Services partners with IOM to launch its first ever communication campaign

In an effort to eliminate negative stereotyping of the local Social Services Department, by advocating effective communication, the Ministry of Health, Wellness and Social Services has engaged with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to launch its first-ever communication campaign.

The Social Services Department foresees this project generating awareness of the Department’s programmes and services while dispelling negative connotations associated with “Welfare.” As of recently, the Department has seen a change in its nomenclature, now with three sub-departments namely the Bureau of Gender Affairs, Children’s Home for Abused, Neglected and Emotionally Scarred (CHANCES), and Social Services.

Social Services Department director Delia Giddings Steadman expressed to DNO her aspiration of educating the public on the duties of Social Services while rebuilding hope lost.

“We have a lot of misconceptions when people come to the Welfare Department, sometimes a child abuse report is made and persons feel like we are not doing anything, but when we get a report on child abuse there are two dimensions to it; we have the police who does the criminal aspect, we have the department which does the child protection aspect. So, when people say, oh ‘Welfare not doing anything because I made a report and nothing is being done,’ but in truth and in fact, we are doing our part, so we protect the child. In terms of arrest, taking the matter to court–that is for the police to do, “ She explained.

The campaign aims to provide transparency to persons who may be misguided in terms of the Department of Social Services’ role where such cases are concerned. Steadman underlined the department’s responsibility to the well-being of children as per their circumstances.

According to her, persons misconstrue the purpose of family separation, often reacting negatively to the Social Services’ unfortunate decisions. “We’re not about taking children, if a child was removed from a home it’s because there was a real need to remove that child. Our goal is to unite families, to ensure that families stay together, but sometimes if you remove a child is not because you want to remove a child,” she stated frankly.

Social Services not only protects the rights and well-being of children and the vulnerable but also that of migrants, hence the IOM’s involvement in this project. During the official launching of the communication campaign on Thursday, June 13, the Project Director at the IOM Vynliz Dailey made clear her organization’s commitment to ensuring that “nobody is left behind”. The project which started in February 2023 further targets the safety and confidence of migrants. She revealed that the project expects to implement, “a migrant outreach, to ensure they are aware of national services, and to break down potential language and cultural barriers.”

Acknowledging the gravity of Social Service and protection, Dailey stressed the importance of collaboration for the execution of this project. “We recognize that no single entity can address the complex issues of social protection alone. It requires the combined efforts of government, civil society, international organizations, and the private sector. These
partnerships bring together diverse perspectives, resources, and expertise, enabling us to create more comprehensive and effective solutions,”  she stated.

“By working together, we can leverage our collective strengths and ensure that our efforts have a ripple, positive effect. Indeed, awareness plus action equals to change. This equation underscores the power of informed and collaborative efforts in driving meaningful progress,” Dailey continued.

The project activities will include the conduction of comprehensive assessment of the national Social Service system, the establishment of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for streamlining existing services to enhance the efficiency of relevant government departments, continued SOPs training, a gender-sensitive protection attentive mapping of local communities, a national information campaign and capacity-building facilitation. The national information campaign aims to raise awareness on issues such as gender-based violence, abuse, and exploitation of children and adults (including the elderly), in both migrant and host communities. The campaign, moreover, seeks to educate persons on the newly administered pieces of legislation surrounding social services. The public is encouraged to pay attention to information soon to be in circulation for educational and awareness purposes.

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