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First assessments underway for PAP participants six months after launch of revamped program


by Kevon Browne

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Social assistance is a huge investment and economic burden undertaken by governments worldwide to aid citizens and residents in surviving through high standards of living.


In St. Kitts and Nevis, the government is spending about $250 million annually on the social support programs that are in operation at this time, including the Poverty Alleviation Program (PAP), Skills Training and Empowerment Program (STEP), ELEVATE, the Uniform Program, SELF, the food voucher program and more.


It has been six months since the start of the revamped operations of the Poverty Alleviation Program.


The government promised that reevaluations would occur after six months of being on the program to assess whether participants would be eligible for graduation or continuation of assistance from the government.


What would graduation mean?


Participants would be taken off the program if it had been concluded that their financial situation had improved or have been guided to a more secure path to improving their lives.


The new iteration of the program has the Social Development Ministry asking people on the program about their goals (professional, educational, developmental, financial) to figure out how best to put individuals on the PAP on a clear path to graduating from government dependence to self-sustainability.


In speaking with the Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Dr Geoffrey Hanley, WINN was told that some individuals had indicated their desire to graduate from the program directly to the Ministry of Social Development.


“That process [has] started, and I want to commend the Junior Minister, Hon. Isalean Phillip, for the tremendous work that she’s doing and the leadership as well, specifically in that area. I don’t know if you had an opportunity to hear her when she was on the different media houses talking about the program. There are some [people] who have come in and indicated as well that their condition has improved, and they would prefer somebody else to get the opportunity. We welcome others like those who recognise that it was a help and they now want somebody else to get help.”


Caseworkers are also engaging with PAP participants in the various zones to assess their situation and eligibility for continuing or graduating.


“The caseworkers are doing the necessary due diligence. So they are engaging [people], and once they recognise that the person’s situation [improved] over the six months, the graduation process will take place, but of course, the proper notifications will be given. We also recognise that there are some people even when they went on, at first, we knew that six months might not have been enough to assist, but as the program continues to serve about 5,300 persons, we are bringing about other elements to it in terms of people – families are now going to workshops and even in consultation with the Ministry, trying to find out how they can improve themselves. Some are going even to try to find additional jobs.”


Concerns continue to mount about the sustainability of social support programs. The government’s attempts at weaning participants off the various programs are obvious; however, at any external or internal shock to the Federation’s economy, the government would have to step in again to support its people. The strain may result in a significant hit to the economic status of the Federation if a significant cultural shift related to individual sustainability does not take root in St. Kitts and Nevis.


Applications are now again open for people seeking assistance from the government to benefit from the $500-a-month Poverty Alleviation Program.


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