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Drugged out

by Emmanuel Joseph

The island’s primary drug counseling agency that caters essentially to adolescents referred to it by the Probation Department, is facing closure after 11 years in existence.

Director of CASA, Centre for Counseling Addition Support Alternatives, Orlando Jones, told Barbados TODAY this morning, that the $60,000 per year government subvention it depended on for survival, had not been forthcoming since April this year.

“If we don’t get money to pay our staff by the end of September, we would have to send them home and drastically cut back our services. We may be able to survive up to October or maybe year end, but after that, we may have to close,” Jones lamented.

“We are running out of money to pay our staff. We have 30 active clients still working with. We do a lot of work with school children who are sent to us from around the island,” the retired psychiatric nurse added.

CASA, he disclosed, provides an outpatient drug counseling service.

“We get a lot of referrals from the Probation Department for persons, mainly adolescents who come through the law courts. We also do a lot of work with children who come through the Edna Nicholls Centre, who were suspended, and with parents as well. We deal with behavioural and drugs problems,” Jones explained.

He pointed out that the service his agency provided allowed children to continue their schooling.

“No other service of this type is operated in Barbados, to my knowledge,” he observed.

He said he feared if the agency should close, it would have serious implications for those children who currently benefit or were likely to benefit in the future.

Jones if he could get enough money to take CASA through to the end of the year, it could buy him sometime to source additional assistance.

“About $20,000 would take us to the end of the year,” suggested the counsellor.

CASA caters to an average 200 people per year, mainly referrals. Jones said the success rate was very high, with only about two per cent of those passing through the programme return for further counselling.

There are two full time counselors and one part time at the facility.

“We are trying to engineer a research project to track those who passed through CASA over the past two years. We may get some funding to do this research project,” Jones stated.

Some 1,500 clients have benefitted from its services since its inception 11 years ago.

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