Secretary Gatchalian checks on DSWD residential care facilities in NCR
In line with his priority thrust as the Chief of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Secretary Rex Gatchalian visited on Tuesday, February 7, nine out of the 13 Centers and Residential Care Facilities managed by the Department through the DSWD-Field Office National Capital Region (NCR).
These facilities were the Reception and Study Center for Children (RSCC), Golden Reception and Action Center for the Elderly and Other Special Cases (GRACES), National Vocational Rehabilitation Center (NVRC), Rehabilitation Sheltered Workshop (RSW), and Bahay Silungan located in Quezon City; and Sanctuary Center, Nayon ng Kabataan (NK), Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking-Trafficked-in-Persons (IACAT-TIP) Center, and the Jose Fabella Center (JFC) located in Mandaluyong City.
The Secretary stressed that the visit is primarily to see the living conditions of the different sectors that the DSWD serves.
“Kung tayo ay sasagip…, hindi naman pwede na hindi nila maramdaman ang kalinga. Dapat ay sapat at maayos ang titirahan,” (If we will conduct reach out, we need to make sure that they (clients) will feel our compassion. The residential care centers should be livable and comfortable), the Secretary said.
The Secretary said that he appreciates the care and the hard work of the center staff but it is important to ensure that there are right facilities and adequate personnel to be able to respond to the needs of the sectors served by the DSWD.
Facilities for children, women, elderly
Secretary Gatchalian first visited the RSCC, which caters to abandoned, neglected, and/or abused children 0 to six years of age.
RSCC Center Head, Glenda Derla, led the ocular visit to every facility in the center. She shared that at present, the maximum capacity of the center is only 30 children, down from 120. She added that since the center is 59 years old already, there are cottages and buildings which had been deemed for demolition.
Moreover, budget had been allocated for the renovation of the center but could not start since they do not have the title to the lot where RSCC is built. Accordingly, the full transfer of the lot, which was donated during the time of former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. through a Presidential Decree, has not been finalized.
Secretary Gatchalian said that he will seek a consultation with the National Housing Authority (NHA) on the matter so that improvements on RSCC can immediately commence, and more children can be accommodated.
In GRACES, the center for abandoned and neglected elderly, the facilities are newly built but cannot be fully utilized due to electrical issues. Based on the sharing of the staff, there is a need to assess the new electrical system, as well as the addition of a transformer which can provide the supply needed by the center.
The same issue was noted in NK, a facility for children in street situation. The structures at the center are notably old but clean. He added that improvements have to be done to make the center more conducive to the needs of the youth, particularly the comfort rooms and the water system.
The NK staff, however, also mentioned the need for improvements in the electrical system so that they can apply for accreditation level 3, or the Centers for Excellence.
A center for women with special needs, Sanctuary Center boasts of structures and facilities which are newly built. The staff, however, shared to the Secretary that the workers are not provided with hazard pay.
The Secretary noted the information and committed to check on it and discuss it with the executive management of the DSWD.
Centers for persons with disabilities
Secretary Gatchalian witnesses the social rehabilitation class at the National Vocational Rehabilitation Center and the production of garment items by the persons with disabilities at the Rehabilitation Sheltered Workshop.
Secretary Gatchalian likewise inspected the amenities inside the NVRC. Ms. Maria Liza Mahinay, the center head of the NVRC, spearheaded the rounds of the Secretary.
During the tour, Ms. Mahinay reported that the center currently accommodates 170 trainees who are enrolled in the different social and vocational courses offered by the center such as basic literacy, computer programming, massage therapy, hotel and restaurant services, and beauty services, among others.
It was raised also that the center needs additional allowance and budget allocation to accommodate more persons with disabilities needing a learning environment for them to become self-sustaining and productive individuals.
Meanwhile, the Secretary visited the Rehabilitation Sheltered Workshop which is adjacent to the NVRC. The Secretary witnessed the persons with disabilities while producing various crafts and items including bags, rags, metal products, and silk screen printed garments.
To date, there are 105 project workers in RSW who are engaged with various job orders and projects.
Facility for street dwellers
Secretary Gatchalian also checked the facilities, wards, and clinics inside the JFC. During the visit, it was found that there is an unfinished construction of a 2-storey building inside the compound. The Secretary instructed Undersecretary Eduardo Punay to look into this matter so that the pending case against the contractor will be settled.
The Secretary is very specific to resolve the case as this will provide an additional 100-bed capacity to the current 250 maximum capacity of the center.
As of press time, the JFC houses 166 residents who are improved mental patients, street dwellers, mendicants, and strandees who are provided with rehabilitative services and interventions.
The Secretary also checked the Bahay Silungan, which is currently non-operational. The Secretary requested the Field Office NCR to expedite the turnover of the property to the DSWD from a private foundation.
One-stop shop for trafficked persons
The Secretary briefly had a discussion with the social workers and representatives from the Department of Justice stationed at the IACAT-TIP Center.
The center is jointly managed by DSWD and DOJ to assist trafficked persons in their legal cases and to access various social services.
Meeting with all center heads
After the tour of the nine centers, Secretary Gatchalian instructed DSWD-NCR Director Monina Josefina Romualdez to set a separate meeting with all 13 center heads in the region for further discussion and consultation.
The visit to the centers and residential facilities is part of the Department’s efforts, under the leadership of Secretary Gatchalian, to review, improve, and innovate programs and services that are responsive and inclusive for the poor, marginalized, and vulnerable sectors. ###