by Emmanuel Joseph
The island’s primary drug counselling agency that caters essentially to adolescents referred to it by the Probation Department, has been saved from closure.
However, its future remains in doubt beyond this year.
Director of CASA, Centre for Counseling Addiction Support Alternatives, Orlando Jones, told Barbados TODAY this afternoon, that the $60,000 per year government subvention it depended on for survival, which had not been forthcoming since April this year, was now in hand. But Jones lamented that this money would only rally the agency to the end of this year.
Last month Jones informed this newspaper that if the agency did not get money to pay staff by the end of September, it would have had to send home staff and drastically cut back its services. In fact, he had said CASA may have been able to survive up to October or maybe year end, but after that, it might have to shut down.
But while Jones was delighted that things were back to normal and the agency was open for business, he was fearful about the future beyond the end of this year, in that this subvention was part of the government’s budget up to March 2013.
“We will now have to wait and see what happens next year, especially with elections in the air. We can’t even say whether or not we will continue to get a subvention from government in the new financial year, especially in these tough economic times,” the CASA director declared. As a result of this uncertain future, Jones said the drug counselling agency would now have to rebrand its services by expanding into the private sector.
“We will try to see if we can get funds outside of government. As you know, all of our business comes through the public sector; that is, referrals from the Probation Department, the Courts, and the Edna Nicholls School. We are well known and popular within the public service, but little is known about our service in the private sector,” he pointed out.
Jones revealed that he therefore had three immediate objectives.
One of these, he announced, was to employ a manager who was competent in sourcing funding and also running the operations.
“I have been here running CASA from the beginning 12 years ago, and I need to move on with my life and have someone take the pressure off me from doing this on my own,” Jones stated. “I am also contemplating rebranding the service, which we might want to do from the beginning of next year. We are looking to have talks with our board and staff. We want to widen the area of services we provide and target the private sector to get business.”
He disclosed, too, that CASA, being the only drug counselling service of its kind in Barbados, would be an integral part of government’s proposed Drug Court, considering that the idea was to keep people out of jail, “and that is what we do.”
CASA, which currently has 30 active clients still working with, does a lot of work with school children who are referred from around the island.
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