Measures in place to protect children in State care


Measures in place to protect children in State care

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

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THE Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) is reporting that its childcare facilities have put measures in place to ensure that children in State care are protected during the COVID-19 crisis.

Chief executive officer of the CPFSA, Rosalee Gage Grey, told JIS News that the agency has activated its National Emergency Disaster Committee, similar to what is done in preparation for a hurricane.

“From early March, a pre-assessment was done to see where the homes were in terms of their preparedness, and today most facilities have reported that they are in a state of readiness,” she said.

Gage Grey pointed out that visitation restrictions to the facilities were implemented earlier in the month, where parents were allowed to make contact with their social worker case manager and then make arrangements for visitations. However, it was further restricted because of the increase in the COVID-19 cases in the island.

“We are in touch with the parents if there is a need for the child to make contact with them. Meanwhile, the facilities are asked to lift the restrictions for the number of times that a child can call home,” she said.

The homes have also been advised to have food stock to last for four weeks, and additional funds were provided to purchase sanitation supplies.

Gage Grey pointed out that privately run places of safety are also supported with funds to purchase sanitation items, and the CPFSA is in touch with these facilities to find out what other needs they may have and how the agency can support them.

“We are in a place of readiness, especially for the government-run homes. There are instances where Managers have decided to run seven-day shifts and will probably move that up to 14 days in case we are on a total lockdown. What this does is to prevent people from visiting the institutions on a regular basis,” she said.

As it relates to the social protocol, this is proving to be a challenge, especially for special needs children in State care.

According to Gage Grey, one of the facilities has four children with intellectual disabilities, who function basically by human touch; however, the staff is ensuring that everybody practises frequent handwashing, and persons sanitise before coming on to the property.

CPFSA officers have conducted sensitisation sessions with staff at both the government-run and private homes, as well as with the children, so that they understand what is happening.

Each home is also required to identify isolation areas on its property in the event a child starts to display flu-like symptoms. There is also an increase in the number of times the temperature of a child is taken.

“Usually it would be twice a day for babies, but we have increased it to three,” Gage Grey said.

The CPFSA head expressed her appreciation to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Supreme Ventures Limited and the staff at the more than 54 government-run places of safety for their support during this period as the world grapples with COVID-19.

The CPFSA is imploring individuals experiencing a fever, cough or flu-like symptoms who wish to conduct business at any of their offices to contact them at 876-948-2841-2 or email, instead of visiting. Other contact numbers are listed on the CPFSA's website, or social media pages (Instagram and Twitter) – @cpfsajm.

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