THE St Lucia Association of Social Workers says the time is right for more investment in social agencies given the extent of the social ills in the country.
In a statement yesterday, the Association said St. Lucia had made significant strides in all sectors of the developmental sphere from since the attainment of adult suffrage. It was not clear whether the statement was directed at political parties contesting the June 6 general elections
The association said: “Our achievements can be noted in the provision of security, employment, education, health care and social services to our citizens. In spite of the gains made, the Saint Lucia Association of Social Workers believes that much more has to be done in the aforementioned areas considering the incidence and impact of diverse social ills on the citizenry.
“Accordingly, the Saint Lucia Association of Social Workers believes the time is right for a greater investment in social agencies, social workers and other helping professions.”
The Association said an increasing case load was a trend confronting many of the country’s social agencies inclusive of those dealing with the poor, unemployed, abused children, battered women, illegal drug users and mentally ill individuals.
It added: “Whereas it is a known fact that such trend has adverse implications for the resolution of the presenting issues of clients, the staff compliment of the agencies does not reflect the needed response to such alarming trend. Many social agencies do not have sufficient professionals to adequately address their present case loads”.
Also of significant concern, it said, was that some agencies lacked a diverse team of professionals equipped with the right skills and knowledge to handle the multiple issues affecting a client. Fundamental to resolving the concerns of clients was ensuring that posts were filled by individuals who possessed the appropriate academic and practical qualifications and experiences, it said.
The statement added: “In addition to being provided with the required staff compliment, our social agencies should be provided with an adequate budget. An adequate budget is necessary to allow the agencies to implement programmes geared at addressing the eclectic needs of clients at the micro, mezzo and macro level as opposed to the norm of targeting our programmes at the micro level. Clients should be provided with resources and services throughout the helping process. Financial allocations should be made available in the budgets of agencies to allow financially deprived clients access to resources from our agencies.
“Redressing the human resource capacity and financial deficiencies of social agencies is a prerequisite to improving the social functioning of all citizens. We must place greater emphasis on programmes intended to address the holistic needs of individuals if we are to maintain the gains we have made as a country. An investment in social agencies is indicative of a sincere concern for the welfare of the poor, vulnerable and oppressed members of our society”.