Parents and guardians who have applied for assistance will be contacted by a welfare officer. (Stock Photo)

The Welfare Department is working diligently to process applications for back-to-school assistance, in an effort to assist parents seeking to ready their children for the September 21 opening of the school year.

The assurance came from Chief Welfare Officer, Deborah Norville, today as she revealed that the department was dealing with a higher number of applicants than usual, largely due to people being laid off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic has also resulted in a number of changes at the department in terms of how applications are being processed.

Mrs. Norville explained that, for the time being, face-to-face in-office interviews between welfare officers and clients have been suspended because the cramped work spaces at welfare offices did not allow for the observance of the COVID-19 protocol in respect of physical distancing.  Instead, interviews were now being conducted via the telephone, she said.

As a result, persons requesting assistance are required to visit the welfare office in the parish in which they reside, or alternatively its headquarters at the Weymouth Corporate Centre, Roebuck Street, and complete the application forms, which are available there.

It is particularly important, Mrs. Norville said, that applicants provide a telephone contact number on the form so that they can be reached by officers for a telephone interview.

She assured parents and guardians that everyone who has applied for assistance will be contacted by a welfare officer.

The Chief Welfare Officer stated: “The Welfare Department remains committed to serving the most vulnerable in our society, and we thank members of the public for their patience as we seek to process the exponential increase in applications for various services during this most difficult period.”

Anyone seeking further information, may call the department at 535-1000 or 535-1023, or email welfare.department@barbados.gov.bb.

joy.springer@barbados.gov.bb

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