Residents of Arthur Seat district, located in the Croft’s Hill area of Clarendon, said children from their rural community have been removed without justification from the government’s social welfare system, known as the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH).
They voiced their concerns last evening, October 3, during a community meeting hosted by their Member of Parliament, Horace Dalley, at Arthur Seat Primary School.
A female resident complained that, although she visited PATH administrators in the Clarendon capital on three occasions, she is yet to be told why a child in her family was removed recently from the programme. “They don’t give mi any reason; mi goh down there three times,” the woman lamented.
Another woman from Arthur Seat complained that PATH representatives recently told her that her children – five and 14 years old – no longer qualify to be on the welfare programme. They had been on it since they were three months old.
Their mother claimed that the decision appears arbitrary, adding that no social worker or representative of PATH contacted her to conduct an assessment or to explain why the benefit was scrapped.
In response, Dalley, who noted that he was the social security minister who championed the implementation of PATH, said persons should not be removed from the programme without first being assessed by a social worker.
“The PATH has a clause in it – and I insisted that it has a clause in it, that every five years a social worker must visit every single house in Jamaica that is on the PATH. There is also a clause that no senior citizen over 60 years of age must ever be taken off PATH unless they are dead…” Dalley told the residents.
He added that the stipulation for families to be visited at the end of every five-year period is part of the re-certification process, which essentially is to determine if beneficiaries should remain on PATH.
Dalley further stated that persons should not be blocked or removed from the programme merely because they have certain basic amenities.
“You are not supposed to be disqualified because yuh have one fridge or yuh have one TV; nutten nuh goh soh. Jamaica a step up; wi nuh want people fi live inna dungle,” Dalley declared.
He, in the meantime, appealed for people to discontinue the abuse of the welfare programme.
“It’s not for you to go to hair dresser. Many parents take the PATH money goh bar an goh gamble,” Dalley said.
He promised to take his constituents’ PATH-related concerns to the House of Representatives in Kingston next week Tuesday. He is now the Opposition Spokesman on Labour, Social Security and Special Abilities.
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