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New living programme for young adults coming out of care to open this week – minister

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Tinee Furbert, the Minister of Social Development and Seniors outlines the budget plan at a press conference (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

An independent living programme for young adults transitioning out of the care system is to officially launch this week, the Minister of Social Development and Seniors said today.

Tinee Furbert added that the centre in St George’s will offer support for up to 12 people and will be staffed around-the-clock.

She said: “With the responsibility of protecting Bermuda’s children and strengthening our families, the Department of Child and Family Services has been given an operational budget of $18.8 million, this reflects an increase of $1.1 million.

“Roughly $284,000 has been budgeted for staffing needed for the opening of an independent living programme. This is the first of its kind in Bermuda, in that a lifeline and safety net is being provided to young adults ageing out of government care.

“The community-based programme will provide housing, case management support, guidance and connect them to educational, vocational and life skills coaching with the opportunity to develop a comprehensive set of daily living, social and communication skills.

“This will provide our young adults with the best opportunity for success as they transition into adulthood.”

Ms Furbert said last March that the programme was expected to begin operations “within the next two months”.

She revealed that a press conference for the opening of the centre is to take place tomorrow.

The minister said: “Long-awaited but we did have to go through an extensive search for an appropriate setting, as well as take time for community consultation.

“We also had to undergo minor renovations at the site that was selected, which was Garrison’s View in St George.

“That’s why there was a delay, particularly with the opening of the independent living programme.”

Ms Furbert said there was capacity at the unit for six men and six women aged between 18 and 24.

She added: “We will be doing a slow roll in, we have someone who should have moved in last week, then we have anticipation for more moving in around March, April.”

The minister said staff will include an independent living coordinator as well as an assistant, support and security staff.

Ms Furbert added: “It will be 24-hour staff in the facility of Garrison’s View.”

She said the budget for the Ministry of Social Development and Seniors increased by 8 per cent for 2023-24, with a total allocation of $26.4 million.

Ms Furbert explained: “The ministry has budgeted an additional $165,000 to support Ageing and Disability Services in the purchase of a structured decision-making tool.

“Decision-making for adult protection is most complex due to the difficulties in reliably assessing the capacity of older adults for decision-making during ethical dilemmas raised when adults refuse services.

“This tool is aligned with the remit of Ageing and Disability Services, which is to support and protect Bermuda’s seniors and persons with disabilities who are at risk of abuse and self-neglect.

“A structured decision-making system – comprising four assessment and implementation tools – will reliably provide protective services to Bermuda’s adults, 18 years and older who are at risk.

“The first phase of establishing this system will be implemented during 2023-24 budget year.”

The minister said that $96,000 was budgeted to make progress on a 2022 Throne Speech pledge to introduce a multi-agency risk assessment conference, supporting victims of domestic abuse.

Ms Furbert explained: “This model will empower key agencies to engage in a more coordinated plan of action to help reduce domestic violence.

“At the heard of MARAC’s model is that no single agency or individual can see the complete picture of the life of a victim but the combined insights are crucial for their safety.

“This budget allocation will fund the hiring of a domestic abuse specialist to support victims at all risk levels and the implementation of phase 1 of the MARAC model."

Fines for late library books to be dropped

Readers will no longer have to pay a fine if they are late to return a library book, the Minister of Education announced.

Diallo Rabain said the move followed trends around the world.

He explained: “The 2023-24 budget allocation for the Department of Libraries and Archives is approximately $3 million.

“In 2023-24, in keeping with international trends, the department has eliminated fines for overdue books.

“We believe that this, in conjunction with the increased use of e-books, has reduced the number of books reported as lost.

“The department also plans to update its public computer equipment, work stations in the upcoming year and this will enable our plan to offer basic computer tutelage.

”Through assisting patrons and observing data, it is evident that there is a need to support the technology timid as the department found a vulnerable segment of the populace that is being left behind, evidenced by many patrons not knowing what a mouse is, how to get onto the internet or that they must remember their pass codes.“

Mr Rabain highlighted that $139.8 million was budgeted for the Ministry of Education to carry out its work in 2023-24, an increase of $3.7 million from the 2022-23 revised estimate.

He said as the Government progressed with the next phase of educational reform, funding was allocated to support the transformation of Francis Patton and Purvis primary schools as they prepared to become parish primary schools in September.

Sandys Secondary Middle School is expected to join CedarBridge Academy and The Berkeley Institute as a third signature school in 2024.

Mr Rabain said: “Our ministry also recognises the continued necessity of supporting students in their pursuit of tertiary education and its overall impact on our economy.

“In 2023-24, the ministry has budgeted $630,000 for external grants and, of those funds, $450,000 has been set aside to fund a merit-based college promise programme.

“These funds are awarded to public school students with a GPA of 3.0 or higher with a $5,000 scholarship to attend the Bermuda College.

“Also, over $1.3 million will be allocated to the ministry’s annual scholarships and awards programme."

Mr Rabain said he will deliver more detailed information about the education ministry’s budget on March 13.

The minister highlighted ongoing work to develop a litigation guardian framework.

She said: “During this current budget year, a new team of litigation guardians were trained in analytical writing for case reporting and essential litigation guardian best practices.

“Additionally, training was provided for the managers and social workers of the Department of Child and Family Services, members of the Family Court panel, judges and acting magistrates.

“This work will continue during 2023-24 budget year to further develop and strengthen the litigation guardian framework.”

To read remarks from the Minister of Education and Minister of Social Development and Seniors in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”.

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Published February 27, 2023 at 2:12 pm (Updated February 28, 2023 at 6:25 pm)

New living programme for young adults coming out of care to open this week – minister

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