Residents who have been in the Cayman Islands over the past decade, especially those who work in the financial services industry, have certainly heard of Hedge Funds Care, if only because of the annual black tie fundraising event that is held every November.
However, even some of those who have attended that gala in the past may not know how the money raised at the event is put to use, or the fact that it is making a big difference in the community.
Since its inception in 2005, Hedge Funds Care Cayman – the local branch of a charitable organization that also has branches in six United States regions as well as in Canada, the U.K., Ireland and Hong Kong – has raised more than US$2.3 million to help prevent and treat child abuse and neglect.
All of the net funds raised in Cayman are used to provide grants for initiatives and organizations in the Cayman Islands. Some of the grants have gone toward the Children and Youth Programme of the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre, the Child Sexual Abuse Intervention and Treatment Programme of Cayman’s Health Services Authority, the Nadine Andreas Residential Foster Home operated by the National Council of Voluntary Organisations, and the “Protection Starts Here” campaign of the Cayman Islands Red Cross.
Two days after the most recent “Open Your Heart to the Children” benefit on Nov. 29, 2014, the Hedge Funds Care Cayman committee members met with stakeholders from various agencies, including those from central government, law enforcement, health, education and nongovernmental charitable organizations.
Geoff Ruddick, chairman of Hedge Funds Care Cayman, said the purpose of the stakeholders meeting was to reflect on the organization’s first 10 years and to discuss plans for the future.
“Together we have made a difference and we continue to make a difference,” he said. “A lot has been achieved, but there’s a lot left to be done. There are still gaps.”
Identifying and trying to determine ways of closing those gaps was a key focus of the meetings.
During the stakeholders meeting, Dr. Bart Grossman, Hedge Funds Care Cayman’s academic adviser, outlined some of the organization’s many achievements over its first 10 years. The first few years after formation were more about setting up a foundation on which to build.
“The first year or two, we had difficulty giving away all the money,” Dr. Grossman said in an interview earlier this year.
Dr. Grossman, who is professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley School of Social Welfare, came on board with Hedge Funds Care Cayman from the first year.
The late Estella Scott-Roberts, who at the time was executive director of the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre, helped Dr. Grossman learn about Cayman and the issues facing the country by taking him to meet with the heads of various agencies in the public and private sectors that dealt with child abuse in one way or the other.
“In the early years, there was a lot of focus on awareness,” he said, noting that over a two-year period between 2007 and 2009, more than 1,800 people, including professionals and parents, went through child abuse prevention workshops called “Darkness to Light: Stewards for Children.”
Over the years, as more in the Cayman community became aware of Hedge Funds Care Cayman and what it was doing, it started addressing specific needs through the grant funding of programs, organizations and professional care providers, all while continuing efforts to raise awareness of the issues.
Ten years on, Hedge Funds Care receives more grant applications that it can accommodate.
“We certainly have ample proposals at the this point,” Dr. Grossman said.
Nicholas Butcher of the law firm Maples and Calder, who sits on the boards of directors for both Hedge Funds Care International and Hedge Funds Care Cayman, said the organization awards grants only after a rigorous evaluation process. Each of the Hedge Funds Care branches around the world supports organizations that can best address the goal of preventing and treating child abuse in their region. In Cayman, that means working toward solutions to Cayman Islands-centric issues, he said.
“U.S. solutions, for example, aren’t always a good fit for the Cayman Islands.”
Since the directors of Hedge Funds Care Cayman are professionals in Cayman’s financial services industry and not social workers, they rely on advice from people like Dr. Grossman when awarding grants to organizations, Mr. Butcher said. “Hedge Funds Care funding is done through an open competitive process and we can only fund programs that make application,” Dr. Grossman said, “but we are able to encourage agencies to apply for funding in areas that seem to represent unmet needs.”
After assessing the applications and conducting various forms of due diligence, Dr. Grossman and his grant-making committee make recommendations to the Hedge Funds Care Cayman directors, who then decide which organizations will receive grants.
Agencies that receive grants are required to state specific outcome objectives. They also have to agree to give quarterly progress reports.
“One of my roles is to help agencies identify appropriate measurement tools that will demonstrate not only that services were rendered, but also that the results made a substantial difference in the lives of clients,” Dr. Grossman said.
“For example, with the residential programs that Hedge Funds Care Cayman supports, we look to see children successfully united with families or securing satisfactory adjustment in the community. With awareness programs, we look for measures that demonstrate participants have deepened their knowledge of child abuse and learned how to respond properly.”
In addition, Dr. Grossman and his colleagues visit with agency recipients twice every year.
“Of course, direct interaction with clients is generally proscribed due to issues of confidentiality,” he said.
The December stakeholders meeting included a panel of Cayman professionals, civil servants and a law enforcement representative to discuss the current state of child abuse and services in the Cayman Islands. Afterward, the participants were split into groups, each including a Hedge Funds Care Cayman committee member, for brainstorming sessions to determine priorities for future funding.
Mr. Butcher said one of the consistent themes that came out of the group sessions was the need for the proper professionalism throughout the system that prevents and treats child abuse in the Cayman Islands.
The lack of a workforce trained in the relevant disciplines is an issue for Cayman, Dr. Grossman said, adding that the development of educational programs in the Cayman Islands that could train and teach social workers who would stay in the Cayman Islands is a key future goal for Hedge Funds Care Cayman,
“There is no way for people to get advanced training in social work [in Cayman] and it takes a long time for agencies to hire a new person.”
Mr. Butcher noted that Roy Bodden, president of the University College of the Cayman Islands, who attended the stakeholders meeting, suggested the possibility of establishing a social work program at the university, possibly as soon as 2016.
Although there continue to be gaps in preventing and treating child abuse in the Cayman Islands, Mr. Ruddick believes that because of Hedge Funds Care and Cayman’s efforts, the country is much better suited to deal with the issue now than it was 10 years ago.
“We have stronger and better coordination in the child welfare system than we’ve ever had,” he said.
“We’ve come a long way.”