Five members of the Department of Social Services have resigned.
H.E. Governor Andy Pearce shared this information during a coffee meeting with the media on Wednesday morning.
The five, were all part of a cadre of technical cooperation officers which were hired in 2016/17 to boost the department’s Child Protection Unit.
As part of the 2015-16 budgetary aid settlement agreed between the Government of Montserrat and DFID, £253,000 or about EC$1,000,000, was ring fenced for child safeguarding. This was done, after a review of child safeguarding showed that the island needed to increase its capacity to protect the most vulnerable.
Eleven posts were created to staff the unit and the department, which was reorganised into three divisions: Child & Family Services, Adult Services and Social Protection Services.
Governor Pearce said their needs to be a review of the current structure, which seemed to have created too many roles for people at the higher level, who expected to handle policy development and not enough of those who were needed to deal with people. The balance needs to change, he said. At one point, the department had two directors of social services after the substantive one returned from university.
The five TCs all left mid-contract. The governor stated that while the funds are available to fill the roles, it would still require at least six months to do so, based on the procedures for hiring technical cooperation officers.
Montserrat has made significant strides since the additional support was received. It has passed its Child Care and Adoption Bill, implemented Child Safeguarding Protocols, and its collaboration with the Royal Montserrat Police Services to handle sexual abuse cases in the court system is to be modeled in other Eastern Caribbean Courts.