National (ECCE) forum on data Management Project within the Social Affairs sector

The Institute of Early Childhood development (IECD) in collaboration with the Social Affairs Department organized a half day forum with the aim of disseminating the results of the findings of the Data Management Project, being a project undertaken by IECD as part on its activities under the ECCE National Plan 2021-2022 on 21st March 2022. The activity coincided with activities to commemorate World Social Work Day celebrated on 15th March 2022.

The forum was officially opened by the Principal Secretary for Social Affairs Department Mrs Linda William Melanie. In her remarks, PS William-Melanie made reference to previous projects of data management conducted by IECD within the education and health sectors. She noted that the project within the Social Affairs sector, which comprises five interdependent and distinct phases, seeks to support Social Affairs in systematically building and strengthening the management of its information system so that data on early childhood development can be readily available and appropriately shared at local, regional and international levels.

PS William-Melanie reiterated that we all share the same vision of ensuring the holistic development of our young children and equally the wellbeing and safety of our children in the early years.

As a small country, we should be proud of the immense progress we have made in the provision of quality service and programme delivery. If we are to continue on this positive trajectory and to bring early childhood development to new heights, it is imperative that we establish a data culture, increase the use of data and improve the accuracy of data across sectors.

She acknowledged the technical prowess of the Consultant, Mr. Egbert Benstrong leading the project and took the opportunity to thank all Community Social Workers, staff at the Social Affairs Headquarters for their support and patience during the data collection process and Mrs. Shirley Choppy and the staff of the Advocacy & Information Section of IECD for leading the project.

The Project Consultant Mr. Egbert Benstrong did a presentation of the first phase of finding of the Situational Analysis of data within the Social Affairs Department which he had identified and discussed with all partner’s concerns. The findings indicated that social workers were collecting a lot of valuable and credible information but on the other hand, the lack of a statistician to sieve through the data for input and to analyze is a major challenge. Mr. Benstrong continued to elaborate on other findings that he hopes the Department will take on to address.

After the presentation of the findings, the participants were able to ask questions and inter-act with the panel. The panel comprised of Chairperson of IECD Board Captain David Savy, Chairperson Dr. Andre Leste, Project Consultant Mr. Egbert Benstrong, Director General from Ministry of Education Mr. Fabian Palmyre, Director Social Services Ms. Beryl Laboudallon and Senior Social Worker Ms. Angel Jeannevole both from the Social Affairs Department. The discussion centered around having indicators that could identify risks for children and the need for integrated databases to be shared with partners involved in ECCE and child protection.

To conclude the forum (CEO) of IECD Mrs. Shirley Choppy made a presentation on the status of achievement of the first phase of the project. As the forum coincide with the World Social Work Day activities IECD recognized the social workers who participated actively in the survey with certificates which were presented by PS Linda William-Melanie and Chief Executive Officer(CEO) of IECD Mrs. Shirley Choppy. The forum ended with a small performance from songwriter, singer and musician Mr. Joe Samy where he sang two songs dedicated for the social workers.

In the afternoon, as a continuation of World Social Work Day activities, the staff were presented with the Vision and Strategic Goals of the Department as the ministry moves forward to implement the Result Based Management Framework of the government. The Strategic goals of the Department were conceptualized by the Senior Management Team of the Department and presented and discussed in a one-day retreat on 11th February 2022.
The overall goals of the department is to have an ethos of efficient service delivery with budget control, Internal restructuring and re-designing, professionalizing of services, and have a dynamic 3 year strategic plan.
The Director for Social Services Ms. Beryl Laboudallon presented the vision of the Social Services Division where she emphasised the mandate of the Division, which is working with all children, family and other vulnerable groups. The Division’s main objective is assist to restore social functioning of the client, empower them to alleviate the social problem and improve quality of life and provide other services through mediation. The overall visioning objectives is to take Social Services to the next level and in doing so, modernize the service. Restructuring of the service is with the focus of having social workers specialized in different fields. She also mentioned the need to improve staff welfare to ensure that staff can deliver at their best.

The session provided staff with the opportunity to be informed of the strategic vision of the department, seek clarification, as they will be involved in the strategic planning process once the exercise starts. Principal Social Worker, Ms. Marie-Agnes Ally presented past achievements of the division and some highlights of the Social work day activities over the past 3 years.
Following the discussion, Mrs. Marie- Nella Leitner an Assistant Social worker who has clocked 10 years of service with Social Services Division, received her long serving award from Minister Patricia Francourt.

Minister Francourt took the floor to congratulate all the social workers for their hard work, as she revived the conversation she had a week ago with the young social worker during a tete a tete. She recounted how amazed she was with the positivity and the passion they had for their profession, where they all said they love what they do despite all the challenges. Minister’s message to the social workers was to make time for themselves, have proper self-care and embrace the profession which other people see the values in.

The day ended with handing over of small gifts as token of appreciation for all social workers by PS William- Melanie and cutting of cake for the occasion by Mrs. Leitner. This was followed by group photo of all social workers with Minister Francourt and the PS Social Affairs department.