Felecia Blyden
Commissioner

 

Janet Turnbull-Krigger

Assistant Commissioner - St. Thomas

 

Evril Powell

Assistant Commissioner - St. Croix

U.S. Virgin Islands

Department of Human Services

Press Releases


April 26, 2017

Department of Human Services Celebrates Foster Care Month in May

(St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands)  Commissioner Designee Felecia Blyden announces that the Department of Human Services will celebrate Foster Care Month this May.  “We are extremely diligent in our efforts to promote the welfare of children in foster care in the Virgin Islands.  We understand the changes in the dynamics of the family structure and how it impacts the growth and development of children,” stated the Commissioner Designee.

 

Foster Care reflects many features in the fabric of society, and includes children who are abused and neglected.  It has existed throughout cultures and across generations where attempts to guide and protect children are centerpiece to plans for the future.  The Department of Human Services has also embraced the concept of the village raising a child. “We contemplate all aspects of normal development for children in foster care.  We are especially focused on foster parents, and encourage interested adults to participate in the program”, concluded the Commissioner Designee.

 

The Department of Human Services invites all individuals interested in foster care to visit the Division of Children and Families in Anna’s Hope (STX) or call(340) 773-5303;  or the Knud Hansen Complex (STT) or call (340) 774-0930.   

 



April 25, 2017

Department of Human Services Relocates the SNAP and MAP Offices

(St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands)  The Department of Human Services announces that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP aka Food Stamps Program), and the Medicaid Assistance Program (MAP) has relocated its main offices.   “This move is an effort to better serve the needs our clients, and an overall effort on budgeting and managing our resources more efficiently,” stated Commissioner Designee Felecia Blyden.

 

Effective Monday, April 24, 2017, the SNAP and MAP offices moved from 3011 Golden Rock, Christiansted to 41B Mars Hill, Frederiksted.  Clients seeking the Energy Crisis Assistance Program (ECAP) will continue to receive service at the Golden Rock location.  SNAP and Medicaid applications will also remain available at Golden Rock.

 

For more information regarding the affected programs contact the following:

  • SNAP  (340) 772-7136 or (340) 772-7104
  • SNAP/ECAP  (340) 773-2323 ext. 2075
  • MAP  (340) 772-7100 ext. 7157
  • Issuance  (340) 772-7135

 



April 18, 2017

Department of Human Services Temporarily Closes Adrian Senior Center

(St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands)  The Department of Human Services announces that the Adrian Senior Center on St. John will be temporarily closed on Thursday, April 20 and Friday, April 21, 2017. Mechanical problems at the facility are the reason for the closure.  Efforts are on the way to rectify this situation, and the department regrets any inconvenience caused to seniors.

 



March 29, 2017

DHS’ Seniors and Preschoolers in the Musical Mix

(St. Croix, U. S. Virgin Islands) The Copenhagen Brass Ensemble was on musical display as they entertained seniors and preschoolers at the Richmond Senior Center.  “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity where our seniors and young ones will be in the same room enjoying a live performance such as this.  We are excited to host the group and experience this cultural exchange,” stated Alvin Milligan, Director of Expansion Services, Division of Senior Citizen’s Affairs.

 

The Copenhagen Ensemble will be participating in the official ceremonial events of the Centennial Transfer Commemoration, and are part of the Danish- Virgin Islands Cultural Exchange Program.  The ensemble started in 1986, and is a part of the Hvidovre Music School. There are 23 members whose ages range from 11-49 years old. Bo Fuglansang, the band conductor and two other members were also amongst the original members. He boosted about coming to St. Croix for the 150th Emancipation celebration in 1999.  Leif and Elisabeth Pedersen, Dr. Eugene Peterson, Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights, and the mocko jumbies, are all a part of the Cultural Exchange Program that represents the Virgin Islands.

 

The ensemble played a variety of music and showcased its horn sections.  Some of the songs that were played included Jurassic Park, Little Mermaid, Cinema Paradiso, Holiday for Trombones, and Pirates of the Caribbean. The seniors as well as the preschoolers were fully engaged as they sang along and danced to the musical pieces. “It is important that we accommodate our seniors with these and other special activities, and we are very fortunate to host this most memorable event,” concluded Mr. Milligan.

 



March 17, 2017

Department of Human Services offers Consultation for Summer Camps

(St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands) – Department of Human Services’ Commissioner Designee Felicia Blyden announces that the Office of Child Care and Regulatory Services will be conducting a mass consultation for summer camps throughout the territory.  “We understand the importance of children receiving well-rounded experiences while attending summer camps.  Camps are structured differently and offer curricula based on specific goals they seek to achieve.  However, we must ensure that summer camps meet the required standards upon enrollment of our children”, explained the commissioner designee.

 

The Office of Child Care and Regulatory Services will host this consultation on two separate days.   It will be held on St. Croix on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at the District Court in Golden Rock.  The second session will be held on St. Thomas at the DHS’ Knud Hansen Complex on Wednesday, March 22, 2017.  Both of these event will begin at 9a.m. until 12p.m.

 

Among the agencies participating in the consultation are DPNR, Fire Services, Department of Health will present on communicable disease, Environmental Health on sanitation, and the  Department of Education’s Child Nutrition Program.  “As the licensing entity, I am encouraging all childcare and after-school centers, residential homes, and kids clubs to come and join us so as to better comply with licensing requirements. The health and safety of our young children remains paramount in our collective responsibilities to ensure they have a rewarding summer”, concluded Commissioner Designee Felicia Blyden.

 



March 7, 2017

Funding identified for Catholic Charities’ “Home at Last Program”

(St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands) – Commissioner Designee Felecia Blyden of the Department of Human Services announced today that funding has been identified for Catholic Charities’ “Home at Last Program”.  “We fully understand the severity of the impact if we are unable to continue to house those homeless individuals who have benefited from this program. This issue was a priority for management at the Department of Human Services, and we pursued every avenue to find a resolve,” stated the Commissioner Designee.

 

Catholic Charities earlier determined that because of the lack of funding, the program would not continue. Once Commissioner Designee Blyden was notified of the impending closure of the program, she verified that the legislature determined “the sum of $500,000 is appropriated in the fiscal year ending September 30, 2017, from any available funds within the Department of Human Services for Catholic Charities Home at Last Program.”

 

In light of the urgency of the need to systematically address the plight of homelessness in the Virgin Islands, and in her determination to assist Catholic Charities, Commissioner Designee Blyden issued an internal directive to that end. “In collaboration with OMB, funding has been identified from the Crisis Intervention Fund that would adequately fund this program.  It would have been detrimental for those who have struggled thus far with homelessness; and it would have been a setback for the program and this community.  The Crisis Intervention Fund is indeed an appropriate alternative funding source for permanent housing for our homeless,” concluded Commissioner Designee Blyden.

 



February 24, 2017

FELECIA L. BLYDEN APPROVED BY THE COMMITTEE ON RULES AND JUDICIARY AND WILL MOVE FORWARD!

St. Thomas – Department of Human Services Commissioner Nominee Felecia L. Blyden went before the Committee on Rules and Judiciary, yesterday, and was unanimously approved! The St. Croix Legislature well was filled with supporters of Blyden. Many had come to speak on her behalf and encouraged the senators to favorably vote her in as Commissioner of DHS.


“It is my honor and privilege to have been selected by Governor Kenneth E. Mapp to lead the Department of Humans Services,” Blyden said. “’It will be a daunting task to carry out this work; however, as the poet Maya Angelou once said, ‘I come as one, but I stand as 10,000,’ for the men and women of the DHS and the clients whom we serve.”


Blyden comes with 26 years of experience directly from DHS. She was born and raised on St. Thomas, graduated from All Saints Cathedral school, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work from the University of the Virgin Islands and received her Master of Arts degree in Vocational and Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Blyden rose through the ranks in DHS.


“In 1991, I joined the staff of the Department of Human Services as a social worker where I was able to hone my skills in the profession. In 1995, I transferred to the Division of Disabilities and Rehabilitation Services. In 2012, I was promoted to Administrator of the Division of Disabilities and Rehabilitation Services.”


At the end, Sen. Jean Forde motioned to move for favorable acceptance and to forward for approval to the Full Body. Blyden and Jackson seconded the motion, respectively. All seven voting senators on the committee voted unanimously for Blyden.

 



February 17, 2017

The Department of Human Services Head Start Program Will Show You How A Budgeting for Everyday Living Workshop Will Help You Get Closer to Owning Your Own Home!

St. Thomas – This two-hour workshop will be held at the DHS Head Start on Sugar Estate Complex located on 1st Avenue. The session will start at 9:00 am on Monday, March 6, 2017. And the focus will be on how to maximize your money, develop a budget, saving strategies and how to improve your credit score.


“We just had our First Time Homeownership Workshop. I think this is an appropriate follow-up,” Commissioner Nominee Felecia L. Blyden said. “This budget symposium will help educate our residents who want to save towards a purchase of a home, develop a budget to ensure that they have enough money to put down and to help them increase their credit score to get better interest rates.”


This is the second year such a seminar has been held and it’s set to continue as an annual event as a follow-up to the First Time Homeownership Workshop. DHS Head Start Program allied with the Virgin Islands Housing Authority and the Virgin Islands Department of Health to bring this together. Last year more than 15 residents participated. We anticipate more will join us this year.


“This seminar is open to all and it is not an overnight, quick fix. It is a process. It will take dedication and implementation of the strategies learned to get to that end result,” Blyden said. “I encourage the people to treat themselves to this free workshop. It is well worth it.”


Those interested must register to secure seating. Call Ms. Masikia Lewis at 340-774-2449.

 



February 17, 2017

Department of Human Services Curtails Services on St. Croix

(St. Croix)  Department of Human Services Commissioner Designee Felicia Blyden announces that due to an emergency with the facilities at Golden Rock, services will be curtailed today.  Specifically, the Senior Citizen’s Photo Identification office will not be available to the public, as well as the department’s Intake Services will be available on a limited basis. “We apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused, but these were unforeseen circumstances and we must ensure these measures are taken to better serve the needs of the general public,” concluded Commissioner Designee Blyden.

 



February 7, 2017

THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES HEADSTART PROGRAM DELIVERED AN IMPRESSIVE HOMEOWNERSHIP WORKSHOP!

St. Thomas – More than 40 future homeowners attended the second annual Homeownership Workshop held at the DHS Sugar Estate Complex on Monday, February 6. Presenters stressed the importance of applying for a mortgage loan and dispelling the preconception that you do not have the ability to buy a home. Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority (VIHFA) presenter, Condon John said they are here to help residents realize their dreams of owning their own homes. She provided crucial information regarding several programs available to first-time home buyers and urges them to call VIHFA to inquire about these programs.


“I am excited for all first-time buyers who will be able to take this opportunity and be able to make owning a home a reality,” Acting Commissioner Felecia L. Blyden said. “I am pleased that DHS played a fundamental role in providing a venue and bringing together professionals who furnished important information that will help guide those who want to buy a home in the territory.”


After the two-hour workshop presentation delivered by VIHFA, the group broke into a one-on-one consultation session where individuals were able to ask more in depth questions germane to his or her situation. This event, which focused on the needs of those seeking their first home, was in response to a family-needs assessment survey conducted by DHS Head Start.


“The need was continually expressed on the assessment survey. The people spoke and DHS listened,” Blyden stated. The Acting Commissioner wants to continue this workshop on an annual basis. She acknowledged the many organizations who were engaged this year and is grateful for their participation in making this a successful event.


“I believe workshops like these are invaluable, beneficial and productive. I will continue to encourage the people of the territory to be participants in such a workshop,” Blyden concluded.


Those who missed the workshop may call Ms. DeShawn Williams at 340-774-2449 for details.

 



February 03, 2017

The Virgin Islands Continuum of Care on Homelessness
Point-In-Time Survey Deemed a Success!

St. Thomas – The Department of Human Services in collaboration with a number of organizations successfully collected data for the 2017 VI Continuum of Care on Homelessness Point-In-Time survey on Friday, January 27. On each island the project was spear-headed by different organizations: St. John Community Foundation on St. John, Methodist Training and Outreach Center on St. Thomas, and Catholic Charities on St. Croix.


“I am very pleased to hear the collection of data each year on our islands proved to be successful and the accuracy of the counts are improving,” Acting Commissioner Felecia L. Blyden said. “The services that the organizations provide to the indigents from food, clothing, healthcare and legal services are very important to document in order for the services to continue.”


Every year in January, Housing and Urban Development requires that COC conduct a one-day count of sheltered and every two years for the unsheltered individuals and families as part of the national effort to end homelessness. This is to include those who are sheltered in emergency shelters, transitional housing and domestic violence shelters on a single night. Each count is planned, coordinated and executed by local communities. There were more than 50 volunteers who helped gather data this year.


“We work with non-profit, faith-based organizations each year to execute this project,” Blyden said. “This team does a wonderful job in assuring the total count of the homeless is complete and the services being provided are documented well to confirm that it is warranted.”

 



February 2, 2017

Department of Human Services Head Start Program
Invites the Public to the Annual Homeownership Workshop!

St. Thomas – In collaboration with the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority, the Department of Human Services Head Start Program invites the public to a two-hour workshop on homeownership. This event, which focuses on the needs of those seeking their first home, will be held on Monday, February 6, 2017, at the Head Start Sugar Estate Complex located on 1st Avenue starting at 9:00 am.


“A family needs assessment was conducted by the Head Start program indicated that many families were interested in a homeownership workshop,” Acting Commissioner Felecia L. Blyden said. “Workshops like these are very helpful for those who are wanting to own homes but not sure what steps to take.”


This is the second year such a workshop has been held and it’s set to continue as an annual event. Many organizations such as World Development, First Bank, Banco Popular and VI Housing Authority have been invited to present at this workshop. They will discuss such topics as services, mortgage loans and other programs available to the residents. Those participating in this workshop will also be able to speak with consultants, one-on-one, to determine pre-qualification.


“I look forward to the success of this program. More than 30 people attended last year and we are anticipating more this year,” Blyden said. “I encourage the people to take this opportunity to avail themselves of the information that will be provided and speak with the professionals that will be there.”


Those interested must register to secure seating. Call Ms. Masikia Lewis at 340-774-2449.

 



January 31, 2017

Governor Kenneth E. Mapp Applauds DHS’ Assistant Commissioner
Janet Turnbull-Krigger and Formally Introduces Acting Commissioner Felecia L. Blyden to the to the People of the Territory!

St. Thomas – In the State of the Territory Address last night, Governor Kenneth E. Mapp commended Department of Human Services’ Assistant Commissioner Janet Turnbull-Krigger for her role in securing Title IV-E funding for the Territory’s Foster Care Program. Gov. Mapp said Turnbull-Krigger was instrumental in initiating the effort to obtain 50% federal reimbursement as well as seeing it through from inception to fruition. The additional funding will increase educational and quality of life opportunities for children in foster care, adoption subsidy as well as kinship guardianship. Gov. Mapp said the Title IV-E Program will bring upwards of $7 million per year in improved services in support of the Foster Care children.


“By receiving Title IV-E funds, the Department will be able to significantly enhance the well-being of Foster Care children in the Virgin Islands,” Turnbull-Krigger stated. The Assistant Commissioner added that her professional and personal commitment to children was what led her to devote the last two years to developing the Title IV-E Program for the VI’s children.


Gov. Mapp also formally introduced Felecia L. Blyden as the new Acting Commissioner of the Dept. of Human Services to the people of the Territory. Blyden is a career professional in the human services field, beginning her 25 years at DHS first as a social worker before moving into her previous role as Administrator of the Vocational Rehabilitation and the capping her career in her current role as Acting Commissioner of the Department. Gov. Mapp welcomed Blyden in her new role and indicated that her name will be submitted to the Senate for confirmation by the end of this week.


“I am very humbled by the Governor’s trust in me and I am especially honored to be able to be chosen to lead such a distinguished Department as Human Services,” Blyden said. “I look forward to serving the Territory and ensuring that all of our citizens receive the help they need and deserve. “

 



January 27, 2017

DHS’ Head Start Program Offers Home Ownership Workshop

St. Thomas – The Department of Human Services, announces that the Office of Pre-School Services/ Head Start Program will be hosting a “ Homeownership Workshop and One-on-One Consultations” on Monday, February 6, 2017 from 9:00am until 11:00am.  Acting Commissioner Felecia Blyden stated, “We encourage the participation of the general public, and in particular families whose children attend Head Start as well as the private day care centers”.

 

The Office of Pre-School Services/ Head Start developed this initiative in response to the expressed desires of parents who are interested in owning their homes.  As such, the office is partnering with the Virgin Islands Housing Authority (VIHFA), Virgin Islands Housing Authority (VIHA), Rural Development, First Bank, and Banco Popular.  Attendees may elect to participate in either forum, and as much as time permits. “We are grateful for the opportunity to bring lending partners to parents to assist their efforts towards homeownership.  One of our goals is to facilitate parents’ engagement in all aspects of the development of our youngsters,” explained Deshawn Williams, Parental Involvement Coordinator.

 

The Head Start Multipurpose Complex is located on 1st Avenue Sugar Estate.   There are additional plans for workshops on “Family Needs Assessment” and “Financial Fitness”.  For additional information, please contact the Office of Pre-School Services/Head Start Program, Administrative Office at 340) 774-2449.  

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UNITED STATES VIRGIN ISLANDS

 



January 23, 2017

DHS ASKS THE COMMUNITY TO HELP COUNT THE HOMELESS

St. Thomas – In an endeavor to determine the number of homeless people in the Territory, the Department of Human Services asks for your help. Now is the time to volunteer! The Virgin Islands Continuum of Care (CoC) 2017 Homeless Point-In-Time (PIT) survey is this Friday, January 27, 2017, from 6:00 am to 12:00 (midnight).


Each year, DHS works with Catholic Charities of the Virgin Islands, Methodist Training & Outreach Center, Inc., St. John Community Foundation and other non-profit, faith based organizations to help the displaced on our islands.


Each year the islands conduct a one-day survey of sheltered and unsheltered individuals and families as part of the national effort to end homelessness. We are asking you to let these organizations know if there are areas in your community where the homeless congregate and may need help.


The PIT Count provides an insight that helps VI Continuum of Care system to do many things that will help the unfortunate with services and to meet federal requirements for continued funding. We ask for the residents of the Virgin Islands to help us gather data to ensure that the homeless will be given the assistance they need. Contact Ms. Brenda Walwyn at 340-774-0930 ext. 4104/5104.

 



January 18, 2017

DHS’ Division of Family Assistance Closed on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2017

St. Croix, - The Department of Human Services, Division of Family Assistance, announces that its’ offices will be closed on Thursday, January 19. 2017 from 8:00am until 2:00pm. The department regrets any inconvenience to the general public as we continue to enhance all of our services.  The areas that will be closed are Certification, Fraud, Front End, Jobs, Quality Control, Issuance, and the Medical Assistance Program (MAP).  In case of emergency, please contact Ms. Wanda Evans Dowling at (340) 772-7101.

 



November 21, 2016

The Department of Human Services, Kingshill Head Start Closes Early

St. Croix – The Department of Human Services announces that the Kingshill Head Start will be closing at 11:00am today.  Electrical and water interruptions have caused the early closure of the Kingshill Head Start.  Commissioner Designee Dr. Anita Roberts stated, “We are asking the parents to come and pick up their children or to meet them at the respective bus drop-offs.  We regret any inconvenience this may have caused parents and/or guardians as these interruptions are unforeseen and unplanned.    We appreciate your understanding and cooperation regarding this very important matter.”

 



November 18, 2016

USDA FOOD AND NUTRITION AWARDS DHS SNAP PROGRAM $190K IN BONUS
St. Thomas – The Department of Human Services’ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is to receive more than $190,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). Commissioner Designee Dr. Anita Roberts received notification from the SNAP, USDA FNS Mid-Atlantic Region director today regarding the Performance bonus.


“I am very pleased to receive this notification as I have been made aware that our Quality Control division accepted its fifth consecutive national award by maintaining its number one rating in the nation,” Roberts said. “I know the unit is ecstatic about the bonus, which validates their hard work paying off.”
Patricia Dombroski of FNS said, “Congratulations to the Virgin Islands. We sincerely appreciate your leadership [Dr. Anita Roberts].”


According to the letter, FNS conducted SNAP Quality Control (QC) integrity reviews nationwide for a year and a half. FNS found practices that intentionally or unintentionally influenced the results of the QC system in many states; therefore, were unable to release a national performance measure for Fiscal Year 2015. However, FNS found no bias during its review of the U.S. Virgin Islands’ Quality Control system; thus, allowing FNS to validate the VI’s reports.


“It’s exciting when I read that FNS thanked DHS QC for maintaining the integrity of the State agency’s QC system and operating within the Federal guidelines,” Roberts said.

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November 18, 2016

DHS QUALITY CONTROL DIVISION SNAGS THE NATION’S NUMBER ONE SPOT FOR THE 5TH CONSECUTIVE YEAR!
St. Thomas – This year marks a staggering record for the Department of Human Services Division of Family Assistance Quality Control as it received its fifth national award and maintained its number one status in the nation. Quality Control Chief Carol Hay attended the 2016 National Association for Program Information and Performance Measurement Agenda (NAPIPM) four-day Conference in Reno, Nevada, in August 2016. The territory received United States Department of Agriculture Certificate of Appreciation Award for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in recognition of the Virgin Islands’ 100 per cent completion rate in FY 2015. This is the highest rate in the nation, resulting in no adjustments to the State error rate for low completion. This accomplishment reflects the state agency’s commitment to the integrity and accuracy of the Quality Control System.


“I am so proud of our Division of Family Assistance Quality Control team, which is led by Carol Hay,” Commissioner Designee Dr. Anita Roberts expressed. “I could not ask for a better team!”


Hay and her team are responsible for maintaining the number one status in the nation for the fifth year in a row. In 2011, her division received its first national recognition.


“It is a pleasure working with exceptional people who have strong work ethics and pay attention to detail. Congrats, Team DHS!” Roberts concluded.

 



November 17, 2016 - December 16, 2016

Department of Human Services Adopt-A-Family Campaign 2016

St. Thomas – The Department of Human Services, Division of Children and Family Services, is seeking sponsors for the annual Adopt-A-Family Holidays program. During the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, individuals, family members, friends, groups, schools and organizations are asked to donate $80.00 to purchase a holiday meal or a gift certificate for families in the territory.


Commissioner Designee, Dr. Anita Roberts said, “This is the community’s opportunity to experience the joy of giving to those who are less fortunate by paying it forward and helping put a smile on the faces of the children who otherwise may not have a positive experience during the holidays. The families are very appreciative of the kindness that is shown to them.”


The deadline for submitting contributions for Thanksgiving is November 17, 2016. The deadline for submitting contributions for Christmas is December 16, 2016. For more information about becoming a sponsor on St. Thomas/St. John and St. Croix for the Adopt-A-Family program, please call (340)774-0930 and ask to speak with either Ms. Michelle Benjamin at ext. 4340 or Ms. Heather Lambertis at ext. 4245.

 

2016 ADOPT-A-FAMILY FLYER



November 16, 2016

DHS RECEIVES $500K FOR PHARMACEUTICAL AND MEDICAL SUPPLIES
St. Thomas – Department of Human Services Commissioner Designee Dr. Anita Roberts received a letter from Senator Marvin Blyden yesterday notifying her that Act No. 7897 has been signed into law.


Act No. 7897 is an Act making appropriations for the operations of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the fiscal year October 1, 2016, to September 30, 2017. The passage of this law provides for a $500,000 appropriation to the Pharmaceutical and Medical Supplies Assistance for the Aged and Disabled Program.


“This is excellent news for DHS and for the program,” Roberts said. “This segment of our population is steadily growing and cannot be without adequate levels of pharmaceutical and medical supplies.”


“Many of our people are in need,” Roberts said. “I am here to ensure that monies are used for the intended purposes and that none will be returned back to the Federal Government. I am very pleased with the notification from the Senator and we are taking every necessary step to secure this appropriation immediately.”

 



November 15, 2016

Department of Human Services Celebrates 101st Birthday of Winthropp Hector

(St. Croix) – The Department of Human Services is honored to host birthday celebrations for Mr. Winthropp Augustus Hector on Friday November 18, 2016.  Mr. Hector, a native Crucian, will be celebrating his 101st birthday.  There will be a Service of Thanksgiving at the Friedensthal Moravian Church in Christiansted, St. Croix. The service begins at 10:15 a.m.  Mr. Hector remains active at the Senior Citizen Center where he plays pool, and sings regularly. The Department of Human Services invites all who wishes to celebrate Mr. Hector’s 101st birthday to join them.

 



October 27, 2016

DHS' Division of Children and Family Returns to Anna's Hope Location

 

(St. Croix)  The Department of Human Services, Division of Children and Family announces it will reopen its offices at 6179 Anna’s Hope on Friday, October 28, 2016.  The division was temporarily relocated to Mars Hill, St. Croix, and returns to Anna’s Hope to provide services regarding the Foster care and Adoption Unit and Protective Care Unit.  We regret any inconvenience to the public, and ask that you call (340)773-5303 for further information.



October 27, 2016

DHS is new Title IV-E Agency "Vows to Keep Pushing for Foster Care, Adoption Subsidies, and Kinship Guardianship"

St. Thomas, – When the Department of Human Services recently developed and submitted its grant application for Title IV-E approval, federal officials commended them for the efficient manner in which it was processed. Specifically, Alphonso Nicholas, Regional Program Manager, Child Welfare Children’s Bureau Region II explained, “the nine (9) months committed to the Virgin Islands’ grant application is recognized as the fastest of any state or territory.  From its’ inception, the territory’s grant application had the level of commitment and expertise to meet the scrutiny of the federal government.” 

 

Commissioner designee, Dr. Anita Roberts, stated, “We are approved, and all efforts towards the approval of this federal grant is the impetus to put forth a strategy to achieve our stated program goals. Now that we are a Title IV-E agency, it widens opportunities for individuals in foster care, adoption subsidies, and kinship guardianship.  We now must push to overcome bureaucratic obstacles and any other impediments in order to realize the full benefit of the Title IV-E program.  To that end, the department anticipates that we will need amendments to local and federal laws, and we intend to engage our elected officials.”

 

The  implementation of the Title IV-E program require specific legislative reforms that must be addressed to ensure a path towards permanency for children in foster care, adoption, and kinship guardianship.  As such, the Virgin Islands must comply with certain federal requirements. According to Assistant Commissioner Janet Turnbull-Krigger, “an example of needed legislation is that all persons over the age of 16 in foster care must receive a credit report on an annual basis in order to combat the growing threat of identity theft, to which minors in foster care are particularly vulnerable.  Legislative mandate is also needed where actions to achieve permanency must be accompanied by “reasonable efforts” to keep children in their homes or in the care and custody of family members.” 

 

There is also the need for changes to existing federal law. The U.S. Virgin Islands and other territories are bound by established ceiling amounts under the Social Security Act, Section 1108 which limits reimbursable funding  This includes a variety of federally funded health care programs such as Medicaid.  Commissioner designee Roberts further explained, “In applying for Title IV-E funds, the department affirms its’ policy decision to enhance the territory’s child welfare services and related programs. It is imperative that the Virgin Islands continue to lobby Congress to have this ceiling removed and/or revised to allow the Department of Human Services to fully explore its options under the Title IV-E program.”

 



 

October 27, 2016

Council Tackles the Increasing Homelessness in the Territory

St. Thomas – The Department of Human Services Commissioner Designee Dr. Anita Roberts chaired a meeting of the Virgin Islands Interagency Council on Homelessness this morning to discuss and address the growing homelessness issue in the territory.


“Homelessness is a concern that affects everyone,” Roberts said. “Our efforts to ensure that programs are funded is a priority for me and I am moving forward in full force.”


A segment of the homeless population that is an underserved but a growing concern was brought to light at the meeting: many of those who are also of concern are those who are “couch surfing” (sleeping on a friend or family member’s couch or floor) and are not counted in the data gathering. Additionally, there is a rapidly increasing number of homeless women-with children in the territory.


Roberts stated, “In order to serve the homeless population, we need to have accurate numbers to request additional funding.”


There are other major concerns that were brought up such as larger numbers of Veterans finding their way down to the Virgin Islands. And the immediate problem that the Catholic Charity is facing, which needs to be resolved by October 31, 2016.


“Homelessness is everybody’s business. But, we need to understand how quickly this problem is escalating and the impact it has territory-wide,” according to Roberts. “In order to prevent future escalation, the public must be informed of what is taking place in our community,”



 

October 25, 2016

DHS Receives Child Care Development Fund For Fiscal Year 2017

St. Thomas – Commissioner Designee Dr. Anita Roberts received notification from the Office of Grants Management Division of Mandatory Grants in Washington D.C. informing the Department of Human Services will be receiving $2,731,220 for the Children and Families Program.


“This is great news for our department,” Roberts said. “As a ‘Discretionary’ grant, it is never guaranteed that you will be selected to receive the grant. The application goes through a very competitive process.”
Child Care Development Funds provide child care services for low-income family members who work, train for work, attend school, or whose children receive (or need to receive) protective services.


“I am elated that many parents will not lose services for their children and may continue receiving assistance without disruption,” Roberts expressed. “Times are tough both in the private and public sectors of our community. Knowing that our children will be taken care of while their parents work or go to school helps alleviate some stress.”


Roberts said that $955,927 of the allotted amount has been received and the balance will be transmitted later in the fiscal year.


October 24, 2016

The Department of Human Services (STX) Offices Temporarily Closed

 

(St. Croix) - Department of Human Services Commissioner designee, Dr. Anita Roberts, announces that that the air conditioning in the offices at 3011 Golden Rock, St. Croix is temporarily out of order.  As such, the offices will be closed temporarily today, October 14, 2016 until 1:30pm. “We regret any inconvenience this may have caused the public as this interruption of services is unplanned and unforeseen.   Every effort is being undertaken to restore the air conditioning, and to better serve our clients.  Should you have further concerns, please contact the Office of the Commissioner at (340) 718-2980.”

 



 

October 13, 2016

DHS Afternoon of Love

St. Thomas – Commissioner Designee Dr. Anita Roberts, along with more than 20 division managers of the Department of Human Services filled, the DHS conference room on Friday, October 7, 2016, for an “Afternoon of Love” and imparted words of wisdom to the 17-year-old teenager who was assaulted by a peer on September 15, 2016. His jaw was damaged by the repetitive blows, causing him to get four plate implants that are now a permanent fixture on his face.


“I am holding back my anger and my tears,” stated the victim’s mother speaking of her son. “He was born 1 pound 6 ounces and had to stay in the hospital for 9 ½ months before I could take him home. He has always been a fighter from birth because he had a lot of issues.”


Roberts introduced the teenager to everyone as her new best friend. “We do NOT tolerate bullying. And it is NOT happening on our watch,” Roberts emphatically expressed.


Roberts planned the event to let the boy and his mother know that the Department of Human Services is here to help him in any way. “We are family and family sticks together,” Roberts said.


Despite all of the hardship he has experienced, the teenager continues to be very active in school as a Jr. ROTC sergeant, a rank he just made. He has plans to join the military and to become a mechanic. His soft spoken demeanor won the hearts of everyone in the room.



October 11, 2016

Department of Human Services, Pharmaceutical Assistance program Receives Rebates and More

 

(St. Croix)  The Department of Human Services, State Pharmaceutical Assistance Program (PAP) primarily assists seniors by paying for their prescription drugs.  The department has partnered with ScriptGuideRX, Inc. to reduce the cost of providing affordable prescription coverage for beneficiaries of the PAP.

 

ScriptGuideRX, Inc., a privately held Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PMB), specializes in assisting plan sponsors to simultaneously manage prescription costs and provide affordable healthcare to beneficiaries.   Recently, ScriptGuideRX, Inc. provided a quarterly PAP Plan Performance Report on the Department of Human Services. ScriptGuideRx, Inc.’s Vice President Dr. Ime Ekpenyong expressed, “the report also reflects accomplishments of the PAP since it’s’ inception on May 1, 2015.  The following are highlighted areas of achievements which is inclusive, but is not limited.”

 

  • Implementation of an all-inclusive pharmacy network program that provides beneficiaries with access to all pharmacy locations on the USVI and major chains across the United States.
  • Implementation of cost savings mechanisms that resulted in a 47% decrease in the programs cost, a $239,925 savings.
  • Continuously working with drug manufacturers to optimize rebate opportunities, resulting in collection of $11,465.96 in rebates for the Department of Human Services.
  • Implemented a drug formulary that emphasizes the use of generics, over-the-, and cost effective brand name medications. counter
  • Working with the VIPAP team to reduce waste and improve adherence

 

“The PAP serves 685 seniors territory-wide, and the programs’ viability is dependent upon the availability of funding. We must find a balance between managing the cost of prescription medicine while maintaining sound and affordable healthcare delivery services, stated Dr. Celia Victor, Administrator of Residential Services. “It is equally important that we reach those individuals 60 years and over who struggle to pay for their medications, or even sacrifice their health because of other daily expenses.  This $11,465.96 in rebates will be integrated back into the program for marketing and to enhance specific program areas,” concluded Assistant Commissioner Turnbull-Krigger.

 



October 5, 2016

Department of Human Serviced Hosted a Pre-Employment Transition Services Conference

St. Thomas - The Department of Human Services, in collaboration with the State Office of Special Education in the Department of Education, recently hosted a three-day training conference at the Marriott Frenchman’s Reef Resort on September 28-30.


The conference was for counselors, social workers and special education teachers, administrators and students. There were approximately 273 attendees at the three-day conference. Commissioner Designee, Dr. Anita Roberts said, “I am very pleased with the turnout of this year’s event. It was very important to us and to the people of the territory to have adequate training and qualified professionals to assist those with disabilities.”


The purpose of the conference was to provide pre-employment transition professional development to staff and services for students with disabilities who are eligible or potentially eligible for services under Section 113 of the Rehabilitation Act. Participants received Continuing Education Unit credits, toolkits and other pertinent materials.


“The event was well attended and participants expressed satisfaction that the information presented was timely and a necessary tool in their professional toolkit,” said Felicia Bylden, Administrator for the Department of Human Services, Division of Disabilities & Rehabilitation Services.”
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October 4, 2016

Department of Human Services To Host Job Fairs

St. Thomas - The Department of Human Services is hosting a Job Fair on St. Thomas and St. Croix for interested and qualified individuals.  Commissioner Designee, Dr. Anita Roberts stated, “We are extremely concerned about the current status of our seniors who are being housed at Sea View Nursing and Rehabilitation Facility. Their health and safety remains a priority, and we intend on addressing this urgent matter holistically.  In contemplating the department’s options, we must simultaneously address the immediacy of the need to adequately staff those facilities that are owned and managed by the Department of Human Services.  As such, we are hosting a Job Fair to enhance our staffing at the Queen Louise Home for the Aged (St. Thomas) and Herbert Grigg Home (St. Croix).”

 

The Division of Personnel will facilitate the hiring process at the Job Fairs. The available positions are Certified Nursing Assistants, Licensed Practical Nurses, Registered Nurses, Institutional Food Service Workers, Institutional Attendants, Cooks, and Social Workers II and III.  If applicable, candidates should bring credentials such as High School Diploma or GED; valid identification; Valid V.I. Board of Nursing License, and /or valid Social Workers Professional License. 

 

“This is an opportunity for all who are interested.  The Job Fair will be on St. Thomas on Wednesday, October 5, 2016 at the Knud Hansen Complex. It will be held on St. Croix on Thursday, October 6, 2016 at our Golden Rock Office. The Job Fair is from 9am until 3pm on both districts,” concluded Commissioner Designee Roberts.

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September 26, 2016

Department of Human Services Prepares for New Title IV-E Federal Program Implementation for Foster Care, Adoption and Kinship Guardianship

 

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands – The Department of Human Services, Division of Children and Family has embarked on an undertaking to enhance the department’s goal in servicing the needs of families and children. In its’ recent application/state plan, which currently awaits final approval by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Virgin Islands seeks federal funding to cover costs associated with foster care, adoption subsidies (children adopted out of foster care), and kinship guardianship. “While this initiative was developed prior to my tenure as Commissioner Designee, it is one that I wholesomely embrace and support.  In principle, this application is not only timely, but it is significant to the department’s mission to adequately care for the needs of children in foster care and the many families that are involved in their welfare,” stated Commissioner Designee Dr. Anita Roberts.

 

The Title-IV-E program is authorized by the Social Security Act, as amended, and is an annually appropriated program with specific eligibility requirements and fixed allowable uses of funds. Unlike the Consolidated Block Grant that the department receives, Title-IV-E is an entitlement grant based on the family income standard used for Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) in 1996.  Assistant Commissioner Janet Turnbull-Krigger, who took the lead role in constructing the application and its’ accompanying documentations, gave reassurance about the program’s impact on any federal funding the department currently receives.   She emphasized, “It must be noted that when the Department becomes a title IV-E agency, this funding stream will not impact, in any way, any of the federal funds that he Territory is receiving.  Title IV-E is listed at the top of all Social Security entitlement programs.  In fact, under federal law, participation in Title IV-E is a requirement for a state to receive funds under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).  As such, becoming a Title IV-E agency will not only enable the DHS to access new federal funds, but will ensure continued participation in federal programs that we currently utilize.”

 

The implementation of the Title-IV-E program locally will have other spin-offs and collateral benefit.  Since foster care, adoption, and kinship guardianship often becomes a legal matters, the courts involvement is inevitable.  Efforts have already been made to ensure that the Virgin Islands Superior Court is engaged from the onset of the implementation.  Specifically, the Virgin Islands Superior Court, Family Court Division, including the respective Judges have been participating in a quarterly call with other judges from Region 2 in order to familiarize themselves with the benefits of becoming a title IV-E Federal Court Improvement Program (FCIP).  The Virgin Islands Superior Court may apply under FCIP for a grant.  This grant must be utilized within the Family Division to assist with court-related improvements as well as staff training. 

 

Commissioner Designee Roberts continued, “We believe that the implementation of the Title IV-E program will reorder our priorities and streamline services to foster children and their families. We are equally encouraged by the prospects of added value regarding the Medical Assistance Program (MAP). Through Medicaid, Title IV-E eligible children are automatically deemed eligible.  This will significantly reduce the proportion of local funds required to support residential and group home programs.”  Similar savings can be realized when Medicaid is claimed for therapeutic foster care and wrap-around services provided for children known to welfare and living at home.

 

In a comprehensive review of the anticipated savings to be realized by the DHS’ implementation of the title IV-E program, it is characterized as plentiful.  According to Assistant Commissioner Turnbull-Krigger, “the Department is currently spending 25% of its’ local annual budget or approximately $17 Million Dollars on residential care which includes on and off island residential facilities. “It is estimated that the Department will have a cost savings of $7-8 Million Dollars annually when title IV-E is implemented.”  “As we join our partners in the fifty states and the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, we are affording our children the same opportunities as other children across the country,” concluded  Commissioner Designee Roberts.

 



September 9, 2016

The Department of Human Services Secures $19Million from the Federal Government to Process Medicaid Claims

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands – The Department of Human Services Commissioner Designee, Dr. Anita Roberts announces the receipt of a grant award for $19,628,107 from the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.   Commissioner Designee Dr. Roberts explained, “This federal grant award was approved and issued to the Virgin Islands Government on September 7, 1016 in support of the territory’s Medicaid Management Information System (MMIS).  Since October 2012, the department have contracted out these services with Molina Medicaid Solutions.” 

 

When Medicaid members are rendered services, the MMIS adjudicates health care claims related specifically to Medicaid covered services.  Claims can now be submitted electronically to the Medicaid Program through the VIMMIS which is consistent with HIPPA requirements. These are real time claim status and payment information available to the provider and the claim submitter.   Commissioner designee Dr. Roberts further explained, “Our access to this technology places the Virgin Islands on the same playing field with the other states. Moreover, these claims are adjudicated within six (6) seconds.  This ability have hastened timely payments to enrolled providers each week.  Enrolled providers can verify member eligibility, obtain real-time claim status, receive electronic remittance advices, and submit request for authorizations on-line through the secure Provider Web Portal.”

 

The Department of Human Services have once again entered into a contract with Molina Information Systems Inc. d/b/a Medicaid Solutions effective September 1, 2016 through December 31, 2022 as secured by the Commissioner Designee.  This agreement solidifies federal requirements regarding the processing of Medicaid claims in the Virgin Islands. “We are extremely confident that Molina will provide the outlined services that are agreed upon with professionalism and in the interest of the Virgin Islands Medicaid subscribers.  The MMIS enables the VI Medicaid Program to accurately track and reports its use of federal fund as well as the local share (match), which was not the case prior to the implementation of the MMIS. Our partnership with Molina Medicaid Solutions validates the Virgin Islands’ use of a CMS Certified Management Information System.,” concluded Commissioner Designee Dr. Roberts.

 



September 9, 2016

The Department of Human Services Reopens the Richmond Senior Center

(St. Croix)  Department of Human Services Commissioner Designee Felicia Blyden announces that due to an emergency with the facilities at Golden Rock, services will be curtailed today.  Specifically, the Senior Citizen’s Photo Identification office will not be available to the public, as well as the department’s Intake Services will be available on a limited basis. “We apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused, but these were unforeseen circumstances and we must ensure these measures are taken to better serve the needs of the general public,” concluded Commissioner Designee Blyden.

 



 

August 31, 2016

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands – Recently the Department of Human Services issued a press release pertaining to the “Medical Assistance Program (MAP) Coverage for Breast and cervical Cancer Treatment”.  Anita Roberts, Ph. D., Commissioner Designee stated, “This is a very important matter that requires immediate clarification.  We want to ensure that all public information is timely and correct. Therefore, I bring to the public’s attention that the age requirement for Medical Assistance Program (MAP) is not age 65 and older.  Rather, MAP applicants seeking treatment for breast and cervical cancer diagnosis must be 65 years and younger.  We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience, and we provide reassurance that the Department of Human Services gives priority in meeting the needs of all whom we serve."

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August 30, 2016

Department of Human Services, Division of Childcare and Regulatory Services Offers Limited Services for Staff Training

St. Thomas, U. S. Virgin Islands – Anita Roberts, Ph.D., Commissioner Designee of the Department of Human Services announces that the Division of Childcare and Regulatory Services is closed on Tuesday, August 30, 2016.  The division’s staff on St. Thomas and St. Croix are participating in mandatory training throughout Thursday, September 1, 2016.

 

Commissioner Designee Roberts stated, “We apologize for the late notice and for any inconvenience to the public. The Division of Childcare and Regulatory Services will be open on a limited basis on Wednesday and Thursday. This mandatory training is a part of division’s and the department’s commitment to enhance employee performance in an effort to continuously improve overall services to the public.”  The Division of Childcare and Regulatory Services will reopen for full service to the public on Friday, September 2, 2016.

  



August 30, 2016

Department of Human Services Opens the New School Year for Head Start Program

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands – The Department of Human Services, Office of Preschool Services - Head Start Program, announces the commencement of the new school year.  The first day of school will be Tuesday, September 6, 2016 for its operations on St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John.  Telsalda Josiah, Assistant Commissioner of Human Services stated, “We are excited about this new school year, and embrace the opportunity to continue to play a vital role in the development of our youngsters. Equally important is our open door policy on engaging the family from the beginning of their child’s educational process.  In concert with VI Fathers March, we are issuing a reminder and are encouraging fathers or male care givers to accompany their children on the first day of school.”  

 

The VI Father’s March initiative promotes the involvement of fathers in the lives of their children, and the first day of school has significant impact in the maintenance of that bond. Assistant Commissioner Josiah continued, “We are aware of the significance of fathers in the lives of their children, and our promotion focuses on the benefits. We have experienced that children whose fathers are involved in their lives demonstrate fewer behavioral problems. Further, it fosters independence, self-control and confidence.” The following is detailed information on the opening of the Head Start Program by island.

 

St. Thomas / St. John District Center Sites – Bovoni, Cruz Bay, Knud Hansen Complex, Lindberg Bay, Minnetta Mitchell Complex, Savan, and Wilhelm George Complex

St. Croix District Center Sites – Anna’s Hope, Christiansted, Concordia, Frederiksted, Kingshill, Marley, Profit, and Richmond

 

The Extended Day Classrooms are 7:30am until 5:30pm.  Whereas, the Full Day Classrooms are from 7:45am until 3:00pm. For more information, parents may contact the Office of Services / Head Start Program Administration at (340) 774-5370 or (340) 773-1972.


August 16, 2016

Medical Assistance Program (MAP)  Coverage for Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment

The Department of Human Services Commissioner Vivian I. Ebbesen-Fludd, issued a statement to again remind Medical Assistance Program (MAP) recipients about the conditions for coverage offered to uninsured women for Breast and Cervical Cancer treatment.  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have granted the Virgin Islands this authority based upon an amendment to the VI Medicaid State Plan.

 

Commissioner Ebbesen-Fludd expressed, “The Virgin Islands has demonstrated to our federal partners that the prevalence of Breast and Cervical Cancer in the territory’s uninsured women is significant enough to be included for coverage under the VI Medical Assistance Program (MAP).  We continue to proactively develop the local Medical Assistance Program with a keen focus on Breast and Cervical Cancer diagnosis. We have also advanced a broad based approach to ensure that qualifying women can access treatment and not be discouraged by the cost of diagnosis and care.”

 

The VI Medicaid State Plan acts as a contract between the VI Department of Human Services and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) with regards to management and operations of VI Medical Assistance Program (MAP) in the territory.  Additionally, applicants for the VI Medical Assistance Program (MAP) applicants are not required to prove income or assets, but must verify United States citizenship, Virgin Islands residency, age of 65 or older, uninsured status, and a confirmed diagnosis of Breast or Cervical Cancer at a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) approved site – the nearest of which is in Puerto Rico.  Commissioner Ebbbesen-Fludd further cautioned that, “coverage by VI Medical Assistance Program (MAP), however, applies only to women who tested positive via PAP or Mammogram for Breast or Cervical Cancer respectively, at the VI Department of Health Clinics; the Frederiksted Health Center Inc.(FHC, Inc.) on St. Croix and the St. Thomas East End Medical Center Corporation (STEEMC) on St. Thomas. After either of these clinics complete the initial testing, the diagnosis is then confirmed by biopsy at the CDC site in Puerto Rico.  Air travel will be provided through the VI Medical Assistance Program.”  In accordance with the VI Medicaid State Plan, if the Medical Assistance Program recipient visits a private physician for breast or cervical testing and /or they receive a diagnosis (biopsy) from a private physician, they then become ineligible for the VI Medical Assistance Program (MAP) Breast and Cervical Cancer Insurance Program.

 


August 15, 2016

Department of Human Services Head Start Program offers Parental Orientation on St. Croix

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands – The Department of Human Services, Preschool Services Head Start Program announces it will conduct “Parental Orientation” for children who will be attending the program on St. Croix.  The “Parental Orientation” will take place on Wednesday, August 17, 2017 at the St. Croix Educational Complex, and it is important that parents are in attendance.

“We continue to promote the needs of the children in our care, and undoubtedly parental involvement is a vital part of the process.  This meeting provides the opportunity for us to share with parents the core values and structure of the Head Start Program. Our focus on the parents at this initial stage is conducive to every child’s learning development and the care provided at all the centers,” stated Telsalda Josiah, Assistant Commissioner of Human Services. 

The managers of the Head Start Centers will be in attendance at “Parental Orientation”, and will review with parents the operations of their centers.  In addition, there will be discussion on the content areas and how they work together to provide comprehensive services to families. The content areas include health, nutrition, social services, parental involvement/engagement, child mental health, and education. This is a significant part of the Head Start Program which prepares preschoolers for the transition from Head Start to Kindergarten. 

Assistant Commissioner Telsalda Josiah urged parent’s attendance and added, “There will be two sessions for the respective centers. Session I will be for Frederiksted, Marley, Concordia, and Kingshill Centers, and is scheduled from 9am until 11am.  Session II will be include Christiansted, Profit, Richmond, and Anna’s Hope Centers, and will take place from 12 noon until 2pm.”


August 12. 2016

Missing Minor Returns to Youth Rehabilitation Center

 

St. Croix, U. S. Virgin Islands – The Department of Human Services Commissioner Vivian I. Ebbessen-Fludd announced today that Jeremiah George, the missing minor from the Youth Rehabilitation Services (YRC), was returned to the facility. The Virgin Islands Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Virgin Islands Department of Police Department (VIPD) have worked collaboratively with the community’s involvement to ensure the safe return of Mr. George to the custody of YRC officials.

 

 Commissioner Ebbesen-Fludd stated, “I am pleased that Jeremiah George has returned to the Youth Rehabilitation Center without incident.  He was accompanied back to the facility by an YRC employee, and we are currently processing his return.  At this juncture and until this process concludes, it is our primary responsibility to immediately apprise the community with this update as it pertains to the whereabouts of Mr. George.”  

 

Earlier this week, the Virgin Islands Department of Human Services and YRC, as well as the Virgin Islands Police Department worked together for the safe return of Jeremiah George. An official description to include the clothes he was last seen wearing was provided to the public. It was also reported that Jeremiah George was being transferred at the time of his disappearance.  “We would like to thank those individuals who in any way assisted our agency towards Mr. George’s safe return,” Commissioner Ebbesen- Fludd concluded.


August 8, 2016

Department of Human Services Sponsors Health Fair and Outreach Activities

 

Department of Human Services Sponsors Health Fair and Outreach Activities

St. Thomas, U. S. Virgin Islands – The Department of Human Services, Queen Louise Home for the Aged will host the Sixth Annual Health Fair and Outreach activities on Friday, August 12, 2016.  The event will take place at the Lionel Roberts Stadium in St. Thomas, V.I. from 9:00am until 2:00pm.

 

“Every year the Department and the dedicated staff of QLH for  the Aged, and other programs organize this event for the Seniors in the community so that there can take advantage of screening and other assistance as it relates to the maintenance of their health”, expressed Vivian I. Ebbesen-Fludd, Commissioner of Human Services.  Other governmental and non-profit agencies participate by providing health care and other services for Senior Citizens who attend the annual Health Fair.  These agencies include VITEMA who provide tips on emergency preparedness; Legal Services of the Virgin Islands who will offer legal advice concerning personal affairs and property; Water and Power Authority on energy conservation and assistance; Fire Services on fire prevention in the home; the Department of Health on the Zika virus and other illness affecting the Senior population; and other organizations that promote healthy living and the prevention of illnesses amongst our Seniors.

 

There will also be presentations featuring the programs within the Department of Human Services, Senior Citizens Affairs Unit (Family Caregiver Program, Therapeutic Recreation, Senior ID, Adult Protective Services, Senior Citizens Senior Employment Program (SCSEP), Senior Medicare Patrol, and Vocational Rehabilitation).  “We are truly excited about the opportunity to bring these health services free of charge to our seniors living in St. Thomas. The access to screening for blood sugar, hypertension, and cholesterol; as well as specialty services by Bobby Olivacce “Ras Bobby”, Herbalist, and Allen Hayes Sr., Natural Healer, is invaluable.  As this event continues to grow every year, we thank all of our

partners for helping us with providing this opportunity for our Seniors.” concluded Commissioner Ebbesen-Fludd.


August 8, 2016

Department of Human Services Seeks to Locate Missing Minor

 

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands – The V.I. Department of Human Services and the V.I. Police Department are seeking the public’s assistance in locating Jeremiah George. George, a minor, was last seen in the Water Gut area in Christiansted, St. Croix in the vicinity of Seaborne Airlines and the Ruby Rouss Housing Complex.  When he was last seen, Mr. George was wearing a black t-shirt with a white shirt underneath, and a long black pants. George, a black male, is about five feet nine inches (5’9”) and weighs one hundred and forty eight 148 pounds.

 

Human Services Commissioner, Vivian I. Ebbesen-Fludd stated, “We ask for the support and assistance of family and friends, as well as the community in locating this young man.   We are working together with the Virgin Islands Police Department, and we need the awareness and cooperation of the entire community.”  If you see this missing minor, please call the Department of Human Services at (340) 773-7123 or call the Virgin Islands Police Department at 911. 

 



May 23, 2016

Department of Human Services - Head Start Program Burglarized

 

St. Croix, U. S. Virgin Islands – The Administrative Offices of the Department of Human Services, Head start Program was burglarized, and as a result several  computers and other associated hardware were stolen.  The Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD), was notified and has begun its’ investigation with the help of our federal partners.  Commissioner Vivian Ebbesen-Fludd said, “I am disheartened that individuals would illegally enter this building and steal computers that facilitate the learning processes of the youngest in our community.  The Head Start Program, as a whole, is vital to our ability to attract interested parents, as well as provide early childhood learning opportunities to 3-5 year old in our community.   We however, are not deterred by this despicable act, and it will not disrupt our daily operations or program goals in any way.”

 

The Department of Human Services expresses full confidence in the VIPD’s ability to conduct a thorough investigation into this crime.  “These computers and related hardware, along with the software and the information generated and stored in them are the properties of the local/federal government.  As such, I am committing myself and my staff to fully comply and cooperate with the authorities’ investigation of this crime. I will also advise all of our government and business partners to include the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority (VIWMA), to notify the authorities of anyone attempting to sell or dispose of our computer equipment and associated hardware.  The Department of Human services greatly appreciates the community’s assistance in bringing the perpetrators of this crime to justice, “Commissioner Ebbesen-Fludd concluded. “


May 5, 2016

DHS Commissioner Ebbesen-Fludd Hails Success of SNAP

St. Croix, U. S. Virgin Islands – The Department of Human Services, Division of Family Assistance is on a roll with notable improvements to its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps.  In the past, the SNAP struggled along the way, seemingly without a compass to redirect its path from the edge of despair.  As it pertains to federal guidelines, the SNAP was actually reporting poorly, and its dynamics were rooted in its negative error rates.  This situation festered, and ultimately impacted SNAP’s performances and overall ranking regionally and nationally.

 

“I am absolutely proud of these accomplishments. The SNAP is vital to the wellbeing of children and families, and turning around this program is indeed a priority. The managers, supervisors and staff have demonstrated a solid understanding of the program’s goals, and a keen ability to cohesively maneuver the program back to a more secure footing”, Commissioner Vivian Ebbesen-Fludd emphasized.  In prior years, the SNAP was stagnated, and the indicators suggested a strategy was necessary to restore the program’s viability.

 

The managers and staff collaborated on a corrective action plan that analyzed the prevalence of errors throughout the application process. The Front End captured the errors early and during the managerial evaluation.  The Quality Control Unit pursued the negative error rates by closely examining cases that were denied or closed.  Commissioner Ebessen-Fludd concluded, “ The numbers we see today are the imprints of hard work and our successes. In fiscal year 2015, the Virgin Islands ranked 41.  As a result of significant improvement to number 3 in error rates, the SNAP program has leaped to 19 out of 53. It our hope and our endeavor to receive bonuses at the end of the fiscal year as we continue along this trend.”

 



May 3, 2016

The Department of Human Services Salutes Older American Month

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands – The Department of Human Services is proudly celebrating the month of May as Older American Month 2016: “Blaze a Trail”.  The Division of Senior Citizens Affair have been planning and preparing for a month filled with activities.  “I am honored, and have the distinction of recognizing the work and the worth of older Virgin Islanders throughout the territory.  As a people we are culturally bond, socio-economically inspired, and generationally driven.   Further, and as a matter of custom, we routinely pause to reflect on the efforts of those who have contributed to this community so as to shine a bright light to mark their paths,” Stated Commissioner Vivian I. Ebbesen-Fludd.

 

The month comprises activities on St. Croix and St. Thomas whose purpose is to engage older residents and seniors alike.  All of the scheduled activities will showcase the department and in particular the Division of Senior Citizen’s Affairs and the services they provide to older individuals and the elderly. Commissioner Ebbesen-Fludd continued, “We pride ourselves by providing care and services for our seniors.  We have rightfully highlighted activities beginning with church services on both islands; St. Thomas – Calvary Baptist Church on May 3rd, and St. Croix – Victorious Believers on May 4th.   These services begin at 10:00a.m. The week concludes with our parade on Friday, May 6th on St. Thomas, and Saturday, May 7th on St. Croix.  Both parades begins at 10:00a.m., and we encourage the community’s support. “

 

The Health Expo promises to be informative and will foster continued awareness regarding the health issues that affect Senior Citizens. On St. Croix the Health Expo will take place on May 13, 2016 at the David Canegata Multipurpose Recreation Center at 10:00am.  The programs and services that will be available includes the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP), Foster Grandparent Program, Nutrition Program, Senior Citizen’ Employment program, Adult Protective Services, and the Caregivers Program.  Partner agencies involved are the Department of Health, Medicare, American Cancer Society, Family Assistance Program, Vision Center, Dr. Ian Cook, Podiatrist,  La Paz Hospice Care, and others.  The Health Expo on St. Thomas will be on May 19, 2016 at the Tutu Park Mall.

 

“We invite the entire Virgin Islands community to join us as we celebrate our Senior Citizens and “Blaze a Trail”.   The Department of Human Services will continue its commitment to publicize every event to afford everyone an opportunity to participate and support our older Virgin Islands residents”, concluded Commissioner Ebbesen-Fludd.


May 3, 2016

DHS Receives Federal Grant Award for SNAP Employment and Training

 

St. Croix, U. S. Virgin Islands - Human Services Commissioner Vivian Ebbesen- Fludd announced today that the department recently received notice from the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Food and Nutrition Service that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) formerly known as Food Stamps, is the recipient of an additional grant award in the amount of $425,000. The federal grant is in response to the department's successful application for the 100% additional funding from the Food and Nutrition Service of the United States Department of Agriculture.  Commissioner Fludd explained, “We are well aware of the standards that are established by the federal government for states and territories as it pertains to SNAP.  We also understand how these established measures drive our intended outcomes towards self- sufficiency for clients.”

 

Over the years, the department relaxed its approach regarding employment and training initiatives, hence it received significantly far less amount of federal funds. “These are the signs that we’ve awaited in our determination to expand services by stirring this pot to ensure that SNAP participants are given a hand up, not a hand out”, Commissioner Ebbesen-Fludd elaborated. 

 

 The Virgin Islands receives federal waivers for Able Bodied Adults as a result of its unemployment rates.  “As the local economy strengthens however, our agenda will be tailored towards meeting the demands of the workforce. We will be reenergized to surpass standards and simultaneously enhance the employment and training component to ensure our participants are truly job ready”, concluded Ebbesen-Fludd.   The department’s request highlights the expansion of services to over 800 participants.   More than one half the amount of the grant award will be used for contractual services with community partners, and the remainder will be equally divided between systems improvement and marketing. 


Human Services and Local Banks Fight Against Financial Abuse of
Senior Citizens and Dependent Adults

 

St. Thomas-The Department of Human Services Adult Protective Services (APS) program held today the first of several intended seminars with financial institutions, in an effort to make a collaborative stance against senior and dependent adult abuse.

Human Services APS management and social work staff explained the rise of financial exploitation of senior citizens and dependent adults. Detailed presentations on fiduciary abuse empowered attendees to take needed steps to report any suspicion of fiscal mismanagement by caregivers and family of seniors or dependent adults.

Financial representatives were advised to be aware of activities by seniors or dependent adults including 1) transferring large accounts or property to other family members, 2) applying for a loan without concrete reason(s), 3) withdrawing significant amounts of money from an account or 4) adding a seemingly eager caregiver/family member as a consignee to their account.

May is Senior and Dependent Adult Abuse Prevention Month. On Tuesday, May 19th APS will host Senior Citizens Information Day where trained legal counsel on senior affairs will be available for consultations. The event will take place at the TuTu Park mall from 10:30 through 2pm. A conference to form a coalition with key government, private, and non-profit agencies against senior and dependent abuse is also scheduled for June.

The APS investigates reports of abuse, neglect and exploitation of senior citizens aged 60 and over as well as incapacitated/dependent adults over 18 years of age who may have a myriad of physical and mental impairments.


Travel Bags for VI Foster Children from Novo Nordisk

 

St. Thomas-The Department of Human Services will receive 200 travel duffle bags for the Territory’s foster children from Denmark based healthcare company Novo Nordisk.

On Wednesday, March 11th at 10:30am Novo Nordisk International Diabetes Care Specialist Margaret Walton, will officially donate the duffle bags to administrators of the DHS Children and Families Unit at the Knud Hansen complex. The bags will be filled with pajamas, toiletries, school supplies, cameras and photo albums.
The relationship between DHS and Novo Nordisk began when Walton visited the VI in 2008 to make a presentation on Diabetes at the Schneider Regional Medical Center. Walton was referred to the DHS Children and Family Unit after expressing an interest in reaching out to children.

Novo Nordisk manufactures and markets pharmaceutical products specializing in Diabetes care and other related diseases. Information can be found at www.novonordisk.com.


The Department of Labor announces the availability of the State Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP)

 

Labor Commissioner Albert Bryan Jr. and Human Services Commissioner Chris Finch, wishes to inform the general public of the availability of the State Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) Plan for public review and comments.

The plan is currently available in hard copy at the Department of Labor One Stop Offices located at 53A, 54A&B Kronprindsens Gade in St. Thomas and #2203 Church Street Christiansted in St. Croix; at the Department of Human Services Offices located at Knud Hansen Complex, Bldg. A in St. Thomas and #3011 Golden Rock, Christiansted in St. Croix; the University of the Virgin Islands campuses and all Public Libraries throughout the Territory.

>>DOWNLOAD PDF HERE >>

The Plan is also available electronically at www.vidol.gov