Log In

Reset Password

‘Lack of safety net’ for struggling young adults – Jackson

Opposition MP Susan Jackson (Photograph supplied)

An Opposition MP is calling for an urgent overhaul to address the lack of a “safety net” for struggling young adults with traumatic family backgrounds.

Susan Jackson welcomed the Government’s plan to launch an independent transitional living programme this year for teenagers who “age out” of the care of the Department of Child and Family Services, but feared it would be unsuitable for those who needed help the most.

Ms Jackson told The Royal Gazette: “We have a vulnerable population of young people in Bermuda and I’m not seeing evidence of the skill set that’s needed to really support the trauma and help that group navigate through our system.”

The One Bermuda Alliance politician explained she had been working for years, along with one of her constituents, to assist a young man who was taken into care as a child.

Despite their efforts and help from charities with accommodation, food and employment, she said he had not been able to build a "normal, sustainable life“ and now found himself with nowhere to live.

“My concern is that he does not have the skills to participate in daily life in Bermuda,” said Ms Jackson.

“There really does not seem to be, in my experience and observations, the expertise of folks within … social services to handle the trauma and the developmental delays that this young man is obviously exhibiting.”

The MP said the individual was only one example of the many youngsters formerly in care who lacked the basic tools for independent, adult living.

She claimed “hundreds” of young people were homeless.

“They are couch surfing, finding hiding spots out in the street,” said Ms Jackson, describing them as the ones “falling through the gap” once they leave the care of the state.

"They are the most vulnerable and they are the ones that are left to their own devices. We are finding out more and more that their own devices means homelessness and the streets.”

Her constituent, who asked not to be named, added: “They feel like they are just being discarded.”

Ms Jackson added that “super supportive” help from charities was welcome but there needed to be a recognition that some traumatised young people could not make use of the help because of their lack of skills.

“There does not seem to be the expertise to – from a mental health wellness perspective – support those young people in independently holding on to those opportunities.

“So you get a job but … you can’t make time or you don’t understand timekeeping or … you don’t have the skill set to complete application forms or get to meetings or any of those basic requirements.”

She added: “There’s no follow up.”

Ms Jackson said social development minister Tinee Furbert had kept her abreast of plans for the transitional living centre.

“You can see she’s anxious to get things going but she’s under the limitations of construction and renovation,” said the Opposition member for Pembroke South West. “The project is under way.

“I understand there will be space for 12 in total – six males and six females – and there will be a written contract for them to sign.”

What is the transitional living centre for young people

Social development minister Tinée Furbert told parliament in March that a new care centre to help young adults was expected to open within two months.

She said the facility was the first of its kind in Bermuda and would ensure children under the care of the Department of Child and Family Services have an easier transition into adulthood.

She added: “It will provide ongoing assistance to in-care leavers with such matters as housing, continuing education, career guidance, access to physical and mental healthcare life skills counselling and opportunities intended to assist them in becoming self-sufficient and productive citizens of Bermuda.”

The location of the centre has not been made public.

Ms Furbert’s announcement followed a pledge last year for her ministry to spend $600,000 on independent living coordinators to assist young people transitioning out of the Government’s care.

Ms Jackson suggested those who would benefit from the centre would be those who could fill out the application form and follow the rules once living there – but those unable to do those things were the ones most in need.

“This is about the one per cent,” she said.

The politician called for a focus on teaching life skills and providing expert psychological services to “severely traumatised” youth.

She also said the Charity Commissioners should be given greater oversight to vet the qualifications and credentials of those working with young people.

A Ministry of Social Development spokeswoman said that she encouraged anyone using the services of a charity to check the “qualifications, accreditations, standards and policies” themselves.

She said: “Our charities work very hard to provide for needs for many in our community and many charities are committed to providing the best service they possibly can.

“ … There is a vulnerable persons policy, which is applicable to all charities and is a guiding document for charities to follow.”

She said organisations applying for charitable status had to “share information about … their bylaws, who their boards’ executive members are, their qualifications and financials, and they can be asked to provide more information as needed”.

The spokeswoman confirmed that the transitional living programme would launch in 2022, would be an option for those who had aged out of the DCFS, and would have trained staff providing professional services.

She said: “By utilising this service our young adults will get assistance to solidify a foundation for independent living. We are excited to be introducing another level of protection towards our safety net structure.”

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published July 06, 2022 at 7:59 am (Updated July 06, 2022 at 7:59 am)

‘Lack of safety net’ for struggling young adults – Jackson

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon