At least one social agency in Barbados is reporting upwards of 30 per cent increase in parents seeking food supplies for their children since Government’s retrenchment program started two months ago.
Chief Executive Officer of Supreme Counselling for Personal Development Shawn Clarke told Barbados TODAY this afternoon that prior to the retrenchments, requests for such assistance was not that high.
“What I have seen is more parents have been leaning on the organization and requesting assistance in terms of helping with food hampers, assistance with things like lunch for the children to go to school and that kind of stuff. We would have seen an increase in that regard. I suspect that could be directly from the retrenchment because prior to the retrenchments, the requests would not have been as high as it is now,” Clarke said.
The professional counsellor noted that in the absence of scientific evidence, his agency estimates that between 25-30 per cent more of these cases have been seen by his organization which focuses on crisis intervention for children.
The latest data shows that about 1,182 workers have so far been sent home under Government’s restructuring programme, comprising 968 from Central Government and 314 from state-owned enterprises (SOEs).
Turning his attention to the mental and intellectual state of those school children who receive counselling from his agency, Clarke has expressed grave concern.
“We also realize that through our psychological assessment that a very, very high percentage . . . I would go as far as to say like 80 percent…this is a conversation I had with my clinical psychologist – about 80 percent of the young people that we do assessments on are either ADHD [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder] or they are functioning below what is expected of them at a certain age. That is also a cause for concern,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Clarke said a lot of these children need remedial work.
While attributing part of their situation to the environment in which
they live, the social worker also explained that some of the parents are not educationally sound.
“So, a lot of them [parents] don’t necessarily place enough emphasis on education, and those who will place emphasis on education, they believe that just providing school clothes and the money and saying ‘go to school and learn,’ is all that it takes. But in terms of really buckling down and helping the children to be able to cope with the pressures of school and the school work, a lot of the parents are not able to do that,” Clarke contended.
He questioned whether it was a matter of persons trying to rush the children out of the system. Clarke said he did not believe children should be moving from one grade to another and can’t count from one to ten.
“In one of the secondary schools that I work with, you have children in fourth form and they still cannot spell the name of the school. We have some children in second and third form that are still struggling to spell their name. It is that serious. The parents themselves need help. Sometimes because of pride, they are ashamed to come out and ask for help. The children that really succeed in Supreme Counselling are those whose parents come and say ‘I really need help,’” disclosed the counsellor.
Clarke lamented that there are some parents who would bring their children when they enter first form, but would not be seen again until graduation five years later.
Although he could not give figures at this stage, he however said there has been an increase in emotional challenges among the young people associated with Supreme Counselling with the most common issue being anger.
“The young people we deal with are angry, or what they term to be anger, because sometimes a young man might present an angry outlook, but then after intense therapy, you may realize the young man is not really angry, but depressed,” the social worker pointed out.