VSA Expands Social Support Reach with Community-Based Assessment Program

PHILIPSBURG:— In the month of April, the Ministry of VSA launched the second phase of its Food Voucher Program, which offers residents most in need with financial assistance for basic necessities in the form of food vouchers. The second phase of the program, which ends June 5th, is being conducted via a community-based approach and assesses the general needs of residents. The emphasis of the entire program is in the assessment and ultimately granting tangible as well as intangible support, psycho-social and social support for those who are in need of such, offering more than food vouchers.

“Over 1600 persons have already registered for the program, which offers a combination of financial assistance, counseling and social support. This community-based approach of the program will enable the Ministry to have a better scope of the needs of our community and match those with the services Government can provide. Intervention strategies and programs can be drafted to assist those affected by the 2017 hurricanes and facilitate a path to move forward, empowered and complete. The concept of a community-based approach shows the willingness of the Ministry to take these social services to the people within their communities by using a low threshold approach, with the aim for a more inclusive outcome.” – Emil Lee, Minister of Public Health

The program started in five locations within the community, namely the three Community Help Desks in Cole Bay, St. Peters and Dutch Quarter and two additional temporary desks namely, the John Larmonie Center and Simpson Bay Community Center. The temporary desks were created in order to accommodate a larger population within the launch period. Persons interested in support, food voucher, counseling and/or social assistance can visit the Community Help Desks during opening hours for registration. The Community Help Desks are open for registration from 8:30am-12:30 pm and from 2:00-5:00 pm.

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The registration process is digital and includes a tracking system, which will facilitate a speedy and efficient distribution of services. The digital registration process enables on the spot registration for persons with special disabilities or needs, as the Community Officers and the District Workers are also conducting registration services for these persons at the individuals’ homes. Qualifying persons will receive a follow-up call for their voucher pick-up instructions and appointments for counseling or social support services. Counseling sessions are currently ongoing and persons receive an individual care plan.

“The Ministry has made registration requirements available in the various communities. Community Officers and the District workers are also conducting fieldwork, going door to door to register persons. I would like to thank those persons who have registered for their good cooperation and patience with the teams that allowed for a smooth processing for all. I’m very proud of the team as we continue to find efficient ways to support our residents and ensure that those in need can have access to available Government services.” – Emil Lee, Minister of Public Health

Source: St. Martin News Network http://www.smn-news.com/st-maarten-st-martin-news/29245-vsa-expands-social-support-reach-with-community-based-assessment-program.html

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