Lister On Child Day Care Allowance Changes

July 1, 2013

Should the changes to the Child Day Care Allowance pass the Senate and be signed into law “it could have the effect of creating distrust between parents and Financial Assistance Dept workers,” Independent MP Terry Lister said.

On Friday [June 28] the Government brought forward a Bill which will require able-bodied Financial Assistance recipients to complete up to 15 hours of community service weekly after three months, as well as require recipients of the Child Day Care Allowance to attend specified life skills programmes such as money management courses or parenting skills courses as deemed necessary.

Although there was not much dissension about the section requiring able-bodied people on Financial Assistance to do community service, both the Opposition MPs and the House’s lone Independent spoke against other measures.

During the debate, Mr Lister called for the Bill to be withdrawn, and eventually joined with members of the Opposition to vote against it. However, it passed by a margin of 17-13, with all OBA MPs voting in favour of it.

Mr Lister said, “The Child Day Care Allowance Act was passed in 2008 by the Government to assist needy families to pay for child care. Initially the threshold level for qualifying was a family income under $70,000. This was reduced two years later to $50,000 then adjusted up to $55,000.

“The payment system is quite simple. Any care giver who has children who would qualify for assistance registers with the Dept. of Financial Assistance [FA]. The family then applies for assistance and following the appropriate review monthly payments are paid to the care giver until the end of the school year in which the child turns four.

“Under the amending Act passed on Friday, parents who are deemed to be in need of parenting classes and who refuse the classes will be suspended from the program for periods of 3, 6 and 12 months. Clearly we have parenting issues in Bermuda. However under this measure the immediate question is who will be penalized? Two parties suffer. First the child. If the parent cannot afford the fees [which should be the reason for the application in the first place] then more than likely the parent cannot pay the fees during the period of suspension which is 12 weeks minimum.

“The child giver in these situations often is operating with 5 or 6 children. One child unable to pay will make a significant difference to that person’s ability to pay their own living costs. This can create the situation where reluctantly the child’s place is given to another child forcing the child of the suspended parent to be without a care giver.

Mr Lister continued, “I should point out that under the Act should a parent be reinstated there are no back payments. So if the care giver were willing to keep the child during the suspension and the parent could not pay then the money is forever lost.

“Clearly the party to be penalized is the parent. The parent’s day is disrupted by having to scramble to find a grandparent, family friend or some other person to keep the child. However, it is really the child and care giver who are penalized.

“Under the Act a worker in the FA Dept will write a report recommending the parenting class and pass this to the Director. I have great difficulty with this as the worker was never asked to assess the parent when the family entered the program other than to assess their financial standing. These workers in the main deal with financial assessments yet this Amendment is requiring them to do something quite out of the norm.

“Government has the Dept of Child and Family Services [CFS] that is responsible for addressing family issues. This Dept should be dealing with any parenting issues. I asked that the Bill be withdrawn and that the Minister who has both Departments reporting to him find a way to have the CFS unit do what they are mandated to do. They have the professional training to do the necessary assessments and can make reliable decisions without the parent feeling that there is an intrusion taking place. These parents did not seek financial assistance from the Dept of FA expecting to be suspended later on.

“This Act has passed the House, should it pass the Senate and be signed into law it could have the effect of creating distrust between parents and FA Dept workers and lead to a confrontational situation which need not exist within that Dept. The suspension of funding could have obvious negative impacts on both child and care giver.

Mr Lister concluded, “Instead this measure should have been withdrawn and the Minister instruct the Director of CFS to present a plan whereby his Dept can require parents in need of parenting skills to attend parenting classes. This I would support 100%.”

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Comments (28)

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  1. peoplewatcher says:

    i agree with Mr Lister. Lets hope the Senate put party politics aside and require this well meaning but (again) , badly worked Act, be fixed.

  2. DarkSideofTheMoon says:

    Any parent that loves their child, or children will do what they have to do to get the allowance. Plus it is time for Bermudians to understand that you can’t always get everything for free. I think these new policies are excellent, look at welfare in the US, we don’t need to create a population of suck-rocks here…

    • Robert says:

      I dont know who you are, and im glad because people like you need to shut the f@* up. Mostvof these people need this help, and if they must rely on their government, then so be it. Stop being cruel and lets help these kids.

  3. Ride says:

    I believe Mr Lister’s point of who is doing the assessment is valid. If the Financial Assistance personnel are not qualified for child and family social assessments then on what basis are they making their recommendation? Unqualified individuals should not be making assessments on such a sensitive topic as parental competence. I agree that the responsibility for the assessment should be moved to the Department of Child and Family Services.

    I don’t agree with Mr Lister’s points on the suspension of payments. If you need the financial assistance then comply with the rules and regulations regarding its receipt. The penalties for falling out of compliance are well documented and communicated. If you violate compliance then the responsibility of the financial shortfall belongs to you. Do not expect the tax payers to make you whole when you do not comply with the rules and regulations. If you need the assistance then stay compliant.


  4. frank says:

    bottom line if you can’t afford children don’t have them and don’t expect others to pay for them if you want to play playhouse use contraception simple

    • NeedsASpankin' says:

      Frank..couldn’t agree with you more….I have been preaching this for years…and all it does is fall on deaf ears…..that’s why Bermuda is in the situation it is in now..and when anyone talks about it, then you are damned to death by the enabling mothers, grandmothers, aunts and deadbeat dads who think having illegitimate kids are a badge of honour.

      There is more to life than having kids as an accessory when you can’t afford them or only having kids to be used as indentured servants when you get older!!

    • collins says:

      Frank, you are so on the money, what the hell is wrong with these girls ? as a frequent caller to the talk shows said the man is entering your camp….. so be ready and prepared for what could happen.

  5. God 1st says:

    Until black people become economically independent and not financially incarcerated ,some will continue to rely on the system.By not creating your own economic base you are giving those in high places of ruler ship of the land which are known as (Lords) owner’s rights over you.

    Chattel slavery is a type of slavery defined as the absolute legal ownership of a person,or persons, giving them the legal right to buy and sell.

    • Ride says:

      @God 1st

      Your implication that only Black people are currently on financial assistance or that only Black people will eventually apply for assistance is grossly incorrect.

      Also, keep in mind that Blacks are the majority in these islands. Therefore, if those on assistance are a representation of the racial demographic here then it would not be surprising to see that the majority of the recipients are Black.

      In any case, we’ll not know for certain the proportions until such a statistic is released. I don’t think they will release it, though. Not certain what could be gained from it.


  6. God 1st says:

    @ Frank I agree with you

  7. God 1st says:

    But i disagree with you on the use of contraception. Parteners in this case should use rubbers.

    Contraception is the deliberate use of artificial methods or other techniques to prevent pregnancy as a consequence of sexual intercourse.

  8. watching says:

    This is very classist. These policies passed by the OBA reinforce the stereotype that if you are wealthy you are a good parent and if you are poor you need parenting help. That is not necessarily an accurate correlation. You shouldnt be able to refer someone to parenting class simply because they need financial assistance. There should be other reasons that require a referral. And a legitimate licensed social worker should have to do an assessment.

    The OBA is assuming that all impoverished people are bad parents. That is hardly the case!

  9. lifetime says:

    Terry, do your research! The Dept of Financial Assistance have qualified social workers that deal with any child/family issues. The social worker can do the required assessment of the applicant and write up the report saying the parent needs parenting classes.

    No wonder the PLP never voted 4 u 4 LEADER!

    • God Grant Me The Serenity says:

      In all fairness the Minister’s statement spoke to “Case Managers” and the Director. I could be wrong but at no time do I recall a reference to a “Social Worker”.

      On a different note there is no need to be so disrespectful and rude. No wonder you are stuck and not making any real progress in an ever revolving world. Stop being a sheeple and begin usin that wonderful thing ed a brain that the Good Lord gave you before it is too late. Never mind it is never too late. Afterall unused brains can always be donated to science. So you see you can still be useful. When is another question.

  10. Not ever thought through says:

    Most of the recipients are single parent situations so which one of the parents is going to be required to attend the courses. The delinquent parent who could care less if the assistance is lost or the parent who works more than one job to make ends meet and would have little to no time between spending time with their children to attend such classes. I think the OBA in all their wisdom are looking for ways to cut the debt of the island but wouldn’t this increase cost by hiring professionals to facilitate these classes, pay for the additional resources in visiting these homes for assessment, etc. I do believe we should not be a welfare state but getting us out of what’s been already implemented may take some creative solutions not some knee jerk, pull the carpet from under you legislation.

    • DarkSideofTheMoon says:

      The one applying for financial assistance, duhh

    • bermiegurl says:

      I agree! What happens to the parents who are in need of assistance that do work? How will they manage to work their shifts and do community service AND parenting classes? How much money will it cost to run such programs? Why not make it a requirement to attend GED classes or job training? It seems that would be a better use of funds as the parent would aquire skills and education that will enable them to move forward and make steps towards financial stability. A few hours a week with child care available while attending the class for those parents that need it. Win win situation!

  11. Eyes Wide Open says:

    Have anyone thought about where this money going to come from.. I swear that government was already in a hole. To put hundreds of privileged financial users in such classes will take more money away from our struggling government/taxpayers pocket. I’m sure that the ones running the class will not be doing this job for free. Good luck on your USELESS wish once again.

  12. Eyes Wide Open says:

    To be honest I believe that most of the workers at Financial Aid need to learn people skills. Trust me. A good plan for government to do is to send a decoy there to see how they treat people who want/have this type of help. That’s real talk

    • bermiegurl says:

      Now that’s a good idea! I know a young mother that works but is still in need of assistance that has been treated like dirt and given the runaround every time she went. Not everyone in need is just sitting on their a** waiting to collect a Govt check! Sending in a decoy would certainly disclose those workers who are undoubtedly in need of people skills!

  13. Zombie Apocalypse says:

    Maybe we could redeploy some of the 3,000 or so unnecessary civil servants to providing parenting classes, if any of them are competent to do it. That would mitigate the cost.

    As for the bleating about it, why does Lister think that someone being given a parenting class is being ‘penalized’? Most people want to be the best parent they possibly can.

    And if you really don’t want the parenting class, no-one will force you. Just don’t take the financial assistance.

    • DarkSideofTheMoon says:

      How can anyone take this comment seriously

  14. Parent in the middle says:

    Ride – you have some valid points, however if it were me writing the bill, it would be REQUIRED that ALL persons seeking financial assistance take family budgeting courses! I work in an office of book keepers and accountants that still live paycheck to paycheck! My household has 2 incomes that are modest. We bought a condo and are now upsidedown on the mortgage (condo is not worth the mortgage value) and would have to PAY out $30-40,000 just to dump it. We do not travel, we do not go out to dinners, we live very conservatively and I have a second job. Yet, to shell out $2K per month in daycare is a significant portion of our income……so for us caught in the financial assistance grey zone (dont qualify, but barely making ends meet)I would GLADLY take any course you asked me to qualify for even a partial assistance in daycare!

    Additionally, to receive a degree as a Social Worker they do require one to learn evaluation methods and basics of preparing financials for your scope of work.

  15. lifetime says:

    Terry should stick to numbers and accounting! He is well qualified in that area! His political career is OVER! Bow out gracefully.

    May God grant him Peace and Hair grease.

  16. about time? says:

    i was always upset when one single mother has the day care paid for one kid then the kid moves on to another school just when that happens they have another and again get paid for the second child also mean while not demanding a child suport from the dead beat ex husband so long they are not troubled while having fancy cell phones with plans why are these people allow to collect for more than one child and almost the same or more than our seniors who are deserving of much more! Also because of the governmentś generosity day care has bloomed and increased in cost significantly over the past two years allowing day care in some cases to charge the parent 30 percent more than the gov subsidy ! Make day care to only charge the subsidy allowed or those parents in need will never get out of some sort of help ! Cap what can be charged from these greedy mony making day care bussiness!

  17. Amazed says:

    What a difference a day makes. One minute We have reports that there is not enough births in the island to meet our future work needs then we get complaints of young women having babies.

  18. Very easy solution to single parent family financial woes. Put every delinquent deadbeat father on a stop list. No travel unless fully paid up child support. There! Never mind the kicking and screaming. Accountability is always the big demon among the irresponsible. In Canada, deadbeat dads cannot get a passport, driver license, wages garnished, etc. The system works when the will is there.

  19. Easy Dayz says:

    I believe that if they wish for parents to step up and take control of the well being of their kids that they should have put together a plan, in which they can re-access these parents. Then with those assessments and to those that are found to be poor money managers then they would need to attend parenting classes, money management classes, community service. In which if the parent does not comply or show any sign of improvement then they will be the ones to penalized. I don’t agree that those that do work their butts off to support a family in a single household should be the ones to suffer for those at fault. Many people have had kids with their partner of many years in which things have fallen apart. Kids change people some just can’t handle it, in return 1 partner can careless of the financial status due to the fact they are out looking for a new friend or freedom. The system should have thought this out properly from the time this law was passed, it should have been where both the person and financial status was checked so this issue would have been avoided from the beginning.
    Why are so many things being taken away from those really in need during such hard times????