Vulnerable Jamaicans encouraged to join PATH programme

THE Ministry of Labour and Social Security is encouraging Jamaicans to take advantage of the offerings of its flagship social protection initiative, the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH).

Introduced in 2002, PATH was developed to provide social assistance for individuals from vulnerable households such as children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, persons living with disabilities and elderly dependents.

In a recent statement, Labour Minister Pearnel Charles Jr said the programme is also crucial for facilitating the education of vulnerable groups.

“A critical objective of PATH is to ensure that children from low-income households are provided with the resources to complete their primary and secondary education, and that they receive support for post-secondary and tertiary education to make them employable — and by doing so, empower them to break the cycle of poverty that comes with low levels of education,” he said.

“For this reason PATH has been designed as a conditional cash transfer (CCT) programme. This means that in order to continuously receive the benefits, families are required to seek health care for their young children and pregnant or nursing women, and ensure that they send children to school every day — unless there are circumstances that make it impossible to do so,” he said.

In addition to the bimonthly cash grants, in August of every year the ministry through PATH provides back-to-school grants for primary and secondary schoolchildren to help with the extra expenses.

PATH also allows access to the education ministry’s School Feeding Programme wherein children are provided with lunches free of cost and given financial assistance with CXC examination fees and tertiary-level studies.

There is no application cost or forms to be filled out; applicants are encouraged to provide all the necessary documents and honestly answer the questions asked by the representative in order to complete the assessment.