‘BEST’ to intervene early with problem kids

| 17/06/2011

(CNS): A collection of government agencies from most of the ministries and portfolios have signed an MOU committing them to working together to help at risk kids at the earliest opportunity. Spearheaded by the education ministry the BEST (Behaviour and Educational Support Team) initiative will see social workers, councillors, teachers, health staff and myriad other professionals taking collective action to assist and support vulnerable children and their families to save them from a potential life of crime of failure. With more than 200 children in need of support the programme aims to turn things around before it’s too late.

The goal of the project is to stop government agencies from operating in silos – ie not communicating or talking to each other – but to pool all of government’s resources to “wrap services around” to save each and every child that is identified as being at risk or vulnerable.

Speaking at the official signing of the memorandum of understanding on Thursday morning, the education minister said the initiative had already been piloted in some schools and was already changing lives for some young people. Rolston Anglin said it was a new approach to ensure all children in the Cayman Islands had the chance to succeed by involving teachers and parents with at risk students and wrapping around them with a multitude of life changing support services.

“For too long we have been saying it is only a small percentage but that percentage continues to grow and impact is very heavy on community,” he said adding that a lot of young people were at risk and the authorities needed to rescue children at earliest possible stage. The minister said it was about rescuing them from a path that would end up on the courthouse door step.

Following a trip to Finland which has one of the highest education attainment levels Anglin said the education department had discovered that 33% of students there access special support services. He explained that the success comes because of the early intervention.

Michael Myles a professional councillor who is spearheading the initiative in the ministry said that he had spent much of his 15 year career in institutions. He said by the time the youngsters reached the Bonaventure home or the Marine Institute it was too late. He said it was disheartening to see that the young people were already lost and he pointed out that many of the problem kids the education system is dealing with today are the children of those lost youngsters he was dealing with ten years ago.

“I believe if everyone unites it is going to be brilliant,” Myles said of the initiative. “The MOU is just paper but at end of day it’s going to come from the cooperation and work with we do with each other where the children will benefit.”  He appealed to all the officials involved not to let the project die “We have identified over 200 kids in the system that chronically need this,” Myles added.

In the pilot project Myles said there have already been some very positive results with the extensive family intervention that has taken place which is not just counselling support but has involved re-housing families, getting employers involved to improve working hours for single mothers and getting psychiatric help. He said just providing access to services, as so many families have no idea what is out there to help them, can make a significant difference.

See details of project below

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  1. oneworld says:

    Wonderful initiative – and please be reminded that animal cruelty is a harbinger of problems to come and is being treated very seriously these days as an indicator of anti-social and even psychotic future criminals… It's even associated with future substance abuse. There's plenty on-line about this early warning tool:  http://www.jaapl.org/cgi/reprint/30/2/257.pdf  is just one place to start. 

    Recently, students at one of the high schools were reported by other students for stoning baby birds! Cudos to the brave kids who reported – and let's get some help to those troubled youths who thought this was fun and their families (andeven some teachers) who don't take it seriously and think it's "normal". 

  2. June South-Robinson says:

    A good move! I hope this Ministry initiative produces the desired results!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I find it terribly sad how all these "concerned" Caymanians only comment on the topics they disagree with. Just goes to show where your minds are at. Only focusing on your complaints and dislikes. Geez-um this is a miserable group of "commenters". Now here is something really positive happening, and not one comment??? It's shameful. Well let me be the FIRST Caymanian to say THANK YOU to the education ministry for helping the children and making some real changes towards the betterment of Cayman's future!!! Mr. Anglin, your efforts do not go unnoticed. People are just too busy being miserable to give credit where credit is due!

    PS. Challenge to "commenters": Write one POSITIVE comment for every negative one you ponder for hours writing….

    Signed, Sick of the whining and negativity

    • Slowpoke says:

      Guilty as Charged.  

      I do tend to write too many silly, snarky, comments because, that is the way my mind works sometimes.  At the same time, I do not write enough about what is going right.

      I fully support this and any initative, that addresses the major disconnect between schools, families and agencies.