NASSAU, The Bahamas – Officials of the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development and the Bahamas Children’s Emergency Hostel (BCEH) recently signed a Management Agreement that concluded years of negotiations on a Standardized Formal Agreement for Children’s Homes across The Bahamas. The Formal Agreement is accompanied by a Professional Standards Manual.
The BCEH signing is the first of several other expected signings with the Children’s Homes throughout The Bahamas that the Government of The Bahamas either owns or operates under the auspices of the Department of Social Services and its Child Care Facilities Unit, or to which the Government provides annual subventions through the Department of Social Services. A standardized Formal Management Agreement has also been completed for the operations of those Senior Citizens Homes the Government of the Bahamas owns and operates, or those to which the Ministry and the Department of Social Services have active partnerships with that include the provision of annual subventions.
Mrs. Phedra Rahming, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development, signed the Agreement on behalf of the Government of The Bahamas while Mr. Arthur Peet signed on behalf of The Bahamas Children’s Emergency Hostel. Mr. Peet serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Home.
The Ministry/Department delegation also included Mr. Michael Foulkes, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development; Mrs. Roselyn Dorsett-Horton, Under Secretary, Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development; Ms. Kim Sawyer, Acting Director, Department of Social Services; Mrs. Lorraine Duvalier, Acting Deputy Director, Children’s Services, Department of Social Services; Mrs. Anne Edwards, Assistant Director, Children’s Services, Department of Social Services; Mrs. Betty-Ann Brooks, Chief Welfare Officer, Administration, Department of Social Services and Mrs. Rigieta Minns, Chief Welfare Officer, Child Care Facilities Unit, Department of Social Services.
Mr. Ronald Thompson, Member of the Board of Directors, The Bahamas Children’s Emergency Hostel and Mr. Philip Stubbs, Member of the Board of Directors, The Bahamas Children’s Emergency Hostel, joined Chairman Peet at the signing.
Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell, called the signing “momentous.” Minister Campbell applauded all sides involved in the discussions that led to the conclusion of the standardized Formal Agreement.
“I want to thank you for the work that you have done to get us to this point,” Minister Campbell said. “This morning is a momentous occasion. It is by no means insignificant. This is something that we have been talking about for a long time; it is something that is necessary in this day and age, and I am ecstatic that we have been able to reach a successful conclusion.
“We have had a longstanding relationship based on good faith and as good as that was, we realized that, for a smooth relationship; for a smooth, effective and efficient running of the Homes that we had to have a Formal Agreement. Efforts were being made for some time (to reach a conclusion on a Formal Agreement) and so it is historic to arrive at this moment where we can actually be signing a Formal Agreement.
“I am pleased that the commitment that got us here is still as strong as it is necessary for us to continue in the best interests of our children,” Minister Campbell added.
The Agreement permits the Minister to appoint the Hostel (in this case) to administer, manage and supervise the Home for, and on behalf of himself. This includes the provision of an annual grant to assist the Administrators, in part, with the management and operation of the Home – payable bi-annually.
By signing, the Hostel has agreed to accept the appointment, and to administer, manage and supervise the Home in the manner that meets the professional standards set by the Ministry of the Government responsible for the Department of Social Services as set out in the document “Professional Standards Manual.” The relationship is a partnership.
The Home is also to submit to the Minister, at six-month intervals, a Report on the accounting relating to the Home, and to make quarterly reports to the Minister regarding the operations of the Home and, from time to time, make recommendations to the Minister with respect to those matters regarding programmes, services, staffing, functioning and the well-being of the children of the Home.
Permanent Secretary Rahming said: “In the past, the Department of Social Services provided guidelines to all Child Care Facilities. However, the provision of a Professional Standards Manual has now formalized what was previously in place and has made the necessary changes to ensure that all are kept up to date with international best practices. The guidance provided in the document augurs well for the Home, the Government, and in particular the children, as their well-being is paramount.”
Chairman Peet also applauded the successful conclusion of the standardized Formal Management Agreement.
“We have been working with the Department of Social Services over the past 40 years and we have always tried to do our part to make the institution a Home for our residents and that is our commitment going forward. It is our hope that this document will help to remove any anxiety or disconnect as we commit ourselves to this day and the future. We are grateful that we can be here, and I want to particularly thank Mr. Thompson and Mr. Stubbs who led the team from The Bahamas Children’s Emergency Hostel to get us to this place today.”