Minister for Health and Social Development, Honourable Marlon A. Penn met with the staff of the Social Development Department to discuss the department’s future in light of the social assistance and grant system review.
Honourable Penn commended the staff for its work over the past six years highlighting that the hurricanes in 2017 and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have displaced many residents and have created difficulty in transitioning to normalcy.
The Minister further emphasised that the Commission of Inquiry has impacted how assistance is given to residents to offset the consequences of certain social issues.
Honourable Penn said, “The burden is now placed on the Social Development Department to process all these levels of assistance without additional staff or resources. So, I understand the struggle that you face when people are frustrated and they sometimes take the frustration out on you. But I just want to let you know that you have my support.”
Honourable Penn addressed staffing issues stating that he has met with the Permanent Secretary and discussed support for the staff to be better able to offer the increase in service to the public because of the shift, in terms of reform, the Ministry is undertaking for social systems in the Territory.
Honourable Penn said, “We have just completed the initial report in terms of how we reform the social systems, the social network and we are also about to take that to Cabinet with those recommendations. Those reforms have implications and will impact how you do your work and it is important for you to be a part of this process so there are no surprises and that you are equipped to offer those services to the public when they come calling.”
The Minister for Health expressed his gratitude in meeting the people behind the services offered by the Social Development Department. He encouraged the staff to continue providing excellent service and reiterated his commitment to support the team as they continue to provide quality service to the population.
The Ministry of Health and Social Development remains committed to working with both internal and external stakeholders to continue providing social assistance services of the highest quality to residents of the Virgin Islands.