Minister of Youth, Social Development and Seniors Post-Budget Press Conference

Budget Press Conference Minister Furbert and Darrell

Today the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, the Hon. Senator Owen Darrell, JP, MP, and the Minister of Youth, Social Development and Seniors, The Hon. Tinèe S. Furbert, JP, MP, gave remarks during a joint post-Budget press conference. 

Good Day Bermuda, 

Today I will share with you the key initiatives that will be supported by the 2024/25 Budget allocation for the Ministry of Youth, Social Development and Seniors. 

The Ministry’s 2024/25 budget increased by $1.45 million, which covers the operational expenditure for the Ministry Headquarters inclusive of the Office of Youth Affairs, Ageing & Disability Services, the K. Margaret Carter Centre, the Department of Child & Family Services and the Department of Financial Assistance. 

The increase comprises eight hundred thousand dollars ($800,000) in union salary uplifts for public officers and six hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($650,000) to fund new and ongoing programmes. 

The Ministry’s budget increase demonstrates our continued commitment to Bermuda’s most vulnerable and cherished population groups: our children, persons with disabilities, our seniors and those who find themselves in economic need. 

The Ministry will ensure that the services and programmes offered will directly impact and improve the overall well-being and quality of life for these population groups.

Now, I will provide an overview of the initiatives under the Ministry’s remit:

The Office of Youth Affairs

This Office was transferred to the Ministry in November 2023. 

You may recall just last month I provided an update on the work of this office which is being steered by the National Youth Policy. This five-year plan focuses on eight key goals associated with the empowerment of our youth, namely: safeguarding, education, tackling anti-social behaviour, employment, sports, health, civic engagement, and diversity. 

The 2024/25 budget will continue to support our community centre and afterschool programmes for children and seniors.

Monies have been budgeted to allow The Office of Youth Affairs to host a major youth conference in July this year focusing on mitigating the anti-social behaviours of our young people.

Additionally, the 2024/25 budget will help ensure youth organisations that receive grants for youth programmes and services have child safeguarding policies in place. 

Ageing and Disability Services 

In October 2023, the Ministry launched a six-month Dementia Care Services Pilot Programme to ensure persons living with dementia who are uninsured or underinsured have access to core dementia care community support services.

Since the Ministry launched the Dementia Care Services pilot, the number of underinsured persons serviced has steadily increased each month. To continue to meet this need, $50,000 has been allocated in the Ministry’s 2024/25 budget to extend the Dementia Care Services Pilot Programme for another six months. 

Ageing and Disability Services will also continue the implementation of its Structured Decision-Making Tool that was purchased last year to support and protect Bermuda’s seniors and persons with disabilities who are at risk of abuse or self-neglect. One hundred and twenty thousand dollars ($120,000) has been allocated in the 2024/24 Budget for this initiative. 

Decision-making for adult protection is complex due to difficulties in reliably assessing the capacity of older adults for decision-making during ethical dilemmas raised when adults refuse services. 

The continuation of putting this framework in place will help officers make consistent decisions and identify immediate safety concerns specific to clients.

Department of Child and Family Services 

With the responsibility of protecting Bermuda’s children and strengthening our families, the Department of Child & Family Services has been given an operational budget of $19.7 million.  

One hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($150,000) will fund the start of a new child safeguarding programme that will facilitate children participating in psychosexual assessments and counselling services as support services.

As per the Child Safeguarding Act 2019, children who are victims of sexual offences or who are convicted of sexual offences and serious personal injury must receive both physical and psychological services. This programme will be established to provide these services.

An additional three hundred and fifty thousand ($350,000) has been budgeted to enhance the delivery of the Independent Living Programme for our young people who are ageing out of Government care. The programme will be extended to engage youth participating at an earlier age of 17 years to prepare them for independent living.

The Independent Living Programme was officially opened in 2023 and currently, there are seven (7) young persons living at the facility and moving through the structured programme. This includes two (2) young persons 17 years old who recently entered the programme. 

The community-based programme offers housing and steers the youth to other resources where they obtain educational, vocational, and life skills coaching that supports independent living as they transition into adulthood. 

The Ministry’s 2024/25 budget will also support the continued work that is being undertaken by the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Committee which has established weekly meetings to collaborate in reviewing the highest-risk domestic abuse cases. This upcoming budget year the MARAC Committee will be developing a five-year Domestic Abuse Strategy.

Department of Financial Assistance

The operational budget for the Department of Financial Assistance will be $54.1 million.

During this current year, financial assistance reform resulted in improved benefits for persons receiving financial assistance support through increases to the table of allowable expenses. 

The 2024/25 pool of funding for the Child Day Care Allowance Programme will be $2.1 million. Change in legislation as part of financial assistance reform led to an increase in the total level of household income for persons to qualify for Child Day Care Allowance to $130,000.

The 2024/25 budget also allocated $3 million to provide financial assistance for low-earners, $2.6 million to assist able-bodied unemployed persons, $25 million for pensioners and $15.8 million for disabled persons. 

Additionally, the Department of Financial Assistance will roll out for the first time a short-term relief benefit programme during the 2024/25 budget year. Legislation is currently being worked on to support the delivery of this benefit programme that will afford those persons who experience financial hardship at any point the opportunity to apply for a one-off short-term relief benefit.  A total of $630,000 has been budgeted for this programme.

These financial reform initiatives will provide social protection systems that guarantee all families, regardless of their current economic standing, access to resources to meet their basic needs. 

Third Sector Grants

Finally, the Ministry has budgeted three million, six hundred and eighty-five thousand dollars ($3,685,000) in its 2024/25 budget to continue the provision of grants to Third Sector Organisations that provide needed social services and programmes. These organizations include: 

  • Age Concern 

  • Women’s Resource Centre 

  • Centre Against Abuse 

  • Vision Bermuda 

  • Nursing and Residential Homes 

  • Meals on Wheels 

  • Salvation Army 

  • Summerhaven 

  • Tomorrow’s Voices and; 

  • Home 


Other key initiatives that will be steered by the Ministry of Youth, Social Development and Seniors during the 2024/25 budget year include:

  • The completion of a National Seniors Strategy;

  • The execution of priorities in the Plan to End Homelessness; and, 

  • The continued strengthening of the Litigation Guardian Programme.

Bermuda, the Ministry is diligently working to support initiatives that demonstrate the Government’s ongoing commitment to improving the social well-being of our youth, our seniors, and persons with disabilities, which all contribute to a path to a better Bermuda.