Mon | Jan 18, 2021

Grant a wish for kids in state care

Published:Saturday | December 5, 2020 | 8:29 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston/Gleaner Writer

Don’t let the COVID-19 Grinch steal the Christmas joy of children in state care.

That’s the plea made by Rosalee Gage-Grey, chief executive officer of the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), who urged charities and individuals to offer Yuletide cheer to kids amid coronavirus restrictions.

Children’s homes have not been spared the pandemic’s toll, as the Take A Child Home For Christmas programme has been halted because of the risk of infection if social-distancing guidelines are not observed.

Logistical challenges would complicate the verification and enforcement of safety protocols, as home assessments would have to be conducted to ensure that families observed COVID-19 rules.

The CPFSA chief executive said that welfare officials had pivoted to incorporate new ways of maintaining Christmas traditions – but at a distance.

“What we are doing differently this year is to grant a wish. We want persons in the communities, in the country, to grant a wish to a child,” Gage-Grey told a Gleaner Editors’ Forum on Wednesday.

“Our PR team is working with the different homes in foster care to have those children write their wishes and then we submit it here, to grant those wishes over the holiday period.”

With all her staff on board for the initiative, Gage-Grey is urging Jamaicans to open their hearts and their pocket books, to make a difference this December.

There is another bright spot for children in the homes, as the child-welfare CEO said they will be facilitating traditional in-house Christmas treats with the requisite health-and-safety precautions.

Parents eager to interact with their children will be facilitated through supervised visits.

For the next couple of weeks, children are being encouraged to submit their wishes under the aegis of the Grant A Wish initiative.

Take A Child Home For Christmas, which first started about 18 years ago, was created to encourage families with children in state care to accommodate them for the holiday period.

Over time, it was extended to persons with good moral standing, and as an opportunity to allow for children to enjoy family life – if just for the season.

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“Headset, perfume set, tablet”

– K.W., 15

“Beats (pink), iPhone, Air Force (white, size 8 or 8.5), black pullover.”

– A.T., 15

“My wish for Christmas is a tablet for myself to help with my schoolwork and also that all the homeless people on the road receive a nice Christmas dinner.”

– M.R., 16

“My wish is to go to my family and stay with them.”

– S.T., 16

“My wish is to get a comb set and hair accessories. My wish is to go home.”

– K.E., 15

“My wish for Christmas is to see my brothers and grandma and I will really appreciate going home with my foster family and a headset.”

–H.H, 15

“I wish for at least two hours with my son. I would really appreciate an ASUS laptop charger so I can finish typing my SBA. I would also love a purple or teal blanket, purple pyjamas, a flowers umbrella, and jewellery.”

– S.H., 18

“I wish I could go home to see my little sister and brother again.”

– B.B., 15

“My Christmas wish is to go home to my family and to live a good life. I want a laptop and clothes.”

– S.B., 16

“My wish is to get a phone for my mother and two tablets for my sister and I to do online classes. I would also like a bicycle.”

– X.D., 13