(CMR) Staff and former directors of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) were acknowledged for their professionalism and dedication at a DCFS awards breakfast recently.
The recognition event, a highlight of Social Work Month, saw social worker Kernita Bailey winning both the Family Services Social Worker and the Joyce Hylton award for Social Worker of the Year.
Held at the Marriott Beach Resort on Friday, 26 March 2021, the ceremony included a segment recognizing and honoring the contributions of the five former DCFS Directors in augmenting the practical and legal framework of social work provision.
In its second year, the event was attended by His Excellency the Governor, Martyn Roper; Head of the Civil Service and Deputy Governor, Hon. Franz Manderson; Ministry of Community Affairs Chief Officer, Teresa Echenique; DCFS Director, Paulinda Mendoza-Williams, and DCFS Deputy Director, Rayle Roberts.
Former Social Services Directors whose accomplishments were highlighted included Gay Jackson, Deanna Look Loy, Angela Martins, and Felicia Robinson, who were in attendance. Also highlighted was Alicia Jen Dixon, who joined the ceremony via Zoom. Each, a pioneer in the development of the profession locally or internationally, was presented with a plaque in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the field of social work and gave acceptance speeches.
In a welcome address DCFS Director, Paulinda Mendoza-Williams outlined the significance of this year’s theme: ‘Social Workers are Essential.’ Her remarks highlighted the department’s innovative approach to providing support to the most vulnerable even during the lockdown and commended staff for resilience and compassion for the plight of clients during the pandemic.
Keynote speaker, Director of the Institute for Caribbean Children and Families, Dr. Claudette Crawford-Brown, gave an insightful Zoom address from her home in Jamaica. She congratulated the Cayman Islands in its handling of COVID-19. She went on to outline approaches and strategies social workers should consider employing locally, regionally, and globally to support populations during the ongoing pandemic and its aftermath.
Her presentation also called for social workers to gain the additional accreditation required to inform policy and to embrace the possibilities for client care by promoting increased cross-border co-operation in the sharing of social work resources.
Ministry of Community Affairs Chief Officer Teresa Echenique, a former social worker, acknowledged a debt of gratitude to the former directors. She spoke of their leadership and resourcefulness, especially through times of national emergencies.
The Chief Officer mentioned that each had built on the foundations of the profession laid down by Cayman’s ‘Mother of Social Work’, National Hero Joyce Hylton. In acknowledging the national challenges each had weathered while ensuring optimal client care, the Chief Officer also thanked the current Director and gave Mendoza-Williams a plaque of appreciation for her stewardship of the department during the pandemic and other recent challenges.
During the team awards, the following individuals were recognized: Adult Special Needs Employee of the Year Marlene Bonnick (Golden Age Home) and Carol Maragh (Maple House), MASH Social Worker of the Year Marjorie Whittaker, Youth Services Social Worker of the Year Marilyn Inniss, Family Services Social Worker of the Year Kernita Bailey, Elderly Services Social Worker of the Year Sigrid Menschaart, Case Management Support Social Worker of the Year Calvin Duncan, Community Development Officer of the Year Dorline Welcome, Brac DCFS Worker of the Year Julieanne Scott, Admin and Finance Worker of the Year Donette Scott Powery and Adoption and Fostering Social Worker of the Year Genevieve Tomlinson.
Manager of the Year was awarded to Social Work Manager, Lois Kellyman.
The awards were sponsored by the estate of the late Mike Simmonds in memory of his mother, Joyce Hylton.