Officials move to address shortcomings in youth rehab

| 06/07/2011

(CNS): Consultants from the Missouri Youth Services Institute (MYSI) are finishing up their training of Frances Bodden Girls’ Home staff on the US organization’s successful rehabilitation programme. At a ceremony  to open the two-week training session, Dorine Whittaker, the chief officer in the ministry for community affairs, spoke of the importance of strengthening youth rehabilitation and care. She said that there were shortcomings in the local capacity to care for at risk youth and welcomed the training which she said would help staff improve the services they offered to vulnerable young people. 

Under the auspices of the Children and Youth Services Foundation (CAYS),staff at Frances Bodden and, later this month, St. Bonaventure Boys’ Home, will receive the benefit of the experience of MYSI advisors. Whittaker also acknowledged the efforts of Cayman’s youth programs.

“While we know that we have some shortfalls in our capability to provide for the care and detention of children and youth who, for various reasons, can no longer remain in their own homes, your presence here today shows that we are making great strides in addressing these issues, strengthening the delivery of services, and making an impact on the lives of children who need a helping hand in our society,” she told participants in the training.

“This is an exciting time to be in the field of youth services and, while the road ahead is challenging, I trust that these training sessions will equip us adequately for the journey,” Whittaker added.

Kenneth Ellis, director of training services at MYSI, is leading the sessions. He spoke of the evolution of the Missouri Model of youth rehabilitation and what he hoped to accomplish over these two weeks.

“We believe in trying to separate what a person does from who they are.
Our kids know how to survive; we have to teach them how to live,” he said.

Ellis, who has spent almost 25 years working with troubled youth, added, “We didn’t just wake up one day and it was better. When we first started, for every 10 kids we worked with, nine of them went into adult prison. We weren’t facilitating anyone; we weren’t reforming anyone. It was a revolving door.

“One of the things that I learned very quickly is that people change through relationships. Our style developed more into one of facilitation and mentoring.
How we can best meet the needs of the kids to help them turn their lives around? Ultimately, that is our goal.”

The success of the Missouri Model over the years has been easy to quantify.
“Now, for every 10 kids we work with, seven to eight stay out of prison. Our recidivism rate remains 7-10%,” Ellis pointed out.

After two weeks of training and coaching the Frances Bodden staff, Ellis said he hoped that “we won’t be talking about the Missouri Model, but we will be talking about best practice to help young people.”

Ormond Williams, chairman of the CAYS board, also spoke at the opening, encouraging those attending the trainingto improve youth services.

“I really believe in what we are doing,” Williams said. “We all know the issues surrounding our young people. If we don’t, we’re not living in the Cayman Islands.”

He noted the shift in attitudes over the last generation that has affected what young people in Cayman expect in life as well as what others expect of them.

“We no longer hear parents saying their children should aim for what is excellent,” Williams said, and spoke of the need for positive peer pressure “where we hold each other accountable, and that is what happened back in the day.”

He implored the group to “help our young people to hope. Everything we cherish in this country would be lost if we lose our young people.”

Williams challenged the staff of CAYS to think about how to make a contribution to the youth in their care, leading to “young people who believe what is possible. It is time for us to recommit ourselves to that which we believe we have been called to and give ourselves completely to it.”



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  1. Anonymous says:

    what exactly is the background training experience of staff currently working at francis bodden?

    not trying to undermine their positions just curious.


  2. Subway Cookie says:

    Let's hold hands and sing kumbahya.  This problem has been going on for ages so simply telling people to get involved isnt going to work.  We live in a culture where grandparents are too often the sole and/or main parental figure.  A child's self worth, drive and ambition are cultivated from birth.  We shouldnt have to insitute a rehab.  Parents need to raise their own children and put aside their own selfish needs.  Stop allowing students the graduate just because they showed up enoug times to meet the minimum requirements.  If they don't achieve passing grades, they don't graduate SIMPLE.  Maybe that will motivate the kids and parents to focus.  Children with learning disorders still go unnoticed too often and what of graduates who don't want to go on to college or sit in an office all day.  Where can they go to learn a useful trade?  It does clearly take an entire community but it starts at home.  You cannot be an absent or useless parent and then expect the government to come along and turn your child into a model adult.  That is YOUR job.

    • Anonymous says:

      Unfortunately many parents are not fit enough to raise their own children because they are kids themselves or didn’t learn how to be good role models because they didn’t have any!  Having counselors in all schools with mandatory meetings can assist with identifying the children with special needs.  Not all teachers are equipped to identify learning disorders but a counselor may.  Social Workers should also visit schools to meet with the teachers, children and parents.  Teachers can be the ones to inform the social workers which parents need assessment, assistance or signed up for a parenting program.


      Add poor parenting with the TV as the baby sitter with stations such as BET, MTV, HBO and VHI.  Through in the other babysitter, the internet and the iPad.  Do parents even talk to their children anymore?  Read to them? Reading to your children isn’t just for babies and toddlers….though I doubt even that much is happening or at least few and far between.


      I am a mother.  I have a daughter.  She loves books!  She is not allowed to watch television nor can she use the computer.  She talks to me about her day.  We play together.  I look her in the eyes and tell her she has the whole world ahead of her and she can be anything.  I have friends that do the same, but it seems that we are the minority.


      Before I get bashed, I do have a full-time job and I am a single mother.  I spend this time with my child because I want the best for her.  She can only learn through example.  People strive to show your best and your children will follow. 


      If any parent has noticed, a child acts out when they want attention.  How much attention are you providing your child?

  3. Anonymous says:

    How about starting from birth? All the at risk child come from parents which show risk.  At the maternity ward, social workers should come and visit all the new parents.  Have conversations with them and visit all parents in their homes for a period of time.  Once the parents have passed certain tests the social workers stop visiting.  If the social workers see that these individuals need assistance in the form of training them how to be better parents, they direct them to the resources to do such.  This would nip it in the bud very early.  Government, here is where you should put money.

    • Anonymous says:

      Take it a step further…Once a teenage pregnancy is found out…have social workers follow these kids and provide them parenting programs and follow the resultant child until he/she is 18….

  4. Anonymous says:

    Where are the churches?  There are so many churches on island that they should be involved.  Shouldn’t they be active in the community rather than just waiting for people to arrive on Saturday/Sunday with pockets full of money?


    What really happens with that money anyway? Are they just perpetual building funds? The church communities should come together to assist the wider community.  I don’t think only listening to the word of God is enough, but acting out the good things would reflect what one has heard.  


    So preachers, pastors, reverends, priests go out there in the community and talk to these youths.  If your time is occupied with other more pressing matters, have people assigned within your church to speak with these at risk youth.  Make your presence known in the prisons, the foster homes, the rehab centres and the orphanage.  Help the ones that need it the most.

  5. Anonymous says:

    A community as a whole can achieve more than one centre acting in a silo.  Every individual is responsible as each individual living onthis island will be affected.  If the new breed of youth is growing up to become wayward adults, what can we expect of them? 


    Mold the youth to become upstanding citizens.  If we are putting the reliance on the government, I challenge the government to implement this one thing into the school.  Change whatever the school systems model currently is to something similar to the Ritz.  How about, “Teaching Ladies and Gentleman” ? Treat the children in the schools as ladies and gentlemen and teach them how to be ladies and gentlemen. 


    As the twig is bent so grows the tree. 

  6. Anonymous says:

    Great job Minister Adam and team! It's great to see something positive is coming from your hard work! Keep it up…..we are behind you 100%.

  7. Honesty says:

    The solution does not seem to rest solely with the rehab center but with the parents.  Parents tell your children that you love them and show teach them to strive for the best.  Teach them by example and explain to them why you have to work so hard.  Give them real consequences for their actions, if warranted.  In essence be a parent, a real parent, not just incubators and sperm donors.

    Locals and expats alike take interest in the community and join big brothers/big sisters.  Your time can make a difference with one child. Volunteer with the Cadet Corps, Go to the schools and volunteer your time to speak to the children on your career and what a wonderful life you have achievement through all the hard work and perserverance.  Even one individual a week at the primary, and high school level can make a difference.  even if one child listens and takes it to heart, you have made a difference.  It doesn't cost much only a little time. 

    I am happy the rehab center is trying to improve it's services.  As the adage goes "Prevention is better than Cure"