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$50m COVID lifeline for children’s homes

Published:Thursday | December 3, 2020 | 12:21 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer
Rosalee Gage-Grey.
Rosalee Gage-Grey.

Rosalee Gage-Grey, the CEO of the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), says children’s homes have received roughly $50 million in extra grants and additional donations from corporate Jamaica and citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic so far.

This includes the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) to guard against infection from the contagious coronavirus.

“We have provided the PPE, which were procured through support from Digicel, Supreme Ventures, and from other donors, and we have distributed those, and we have given them (children’s homes) an injection of funds to assist in that regard,” Gage-Grey said during a Gleaner Editors’ Forum on children’s issues during the pandemic yesterday.

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“We have provided probably close to $30 million or more over the period in terms of grants, additional grants apart from what they used to get,” she added.

“We have a partnership with Nestle, who is providing us with some resources so that we are able to give care packages to our foster carers and the children’s homes,” the CPFSA boss said. “Our whole strategy now is to help families to better cope. It is very expensive to run state facilities and residential facilities.”

Gage-Grey noted that the CPFSA had also given additional aid to state-run homes.

“The government homes are our full responsibility, so they come under the normal recurrent expenditure, but we injected funds to the homes to the tune of $20 million cash as a one-off payment to facilitate that,” said Gage-Grey. “They get a subvention per child per week to maintain based on the provisions of the agency, but in addition to that, we have been giving support otherwise.”

Two privately operated homes also told The Gleaner that they had received assistance from the CPFSA.

Cordell Howell-Huie, the administrator of the Mustard Seed Children’s Home in Adelphi, St James, said that the CPFSA’s assistance complemented other aid provided by Bishop Conrad Pitkin, custos of St James.

“We got masks for both staff and children, and we got gloves and thermometers [from the CPFSA], and those items were well-needed. Plus, we have been getting other support internally and externally as the custos came and donated quite a few masks for the staff,” said Howell-Huie.

Reverend Hartley Perrin, chairman of the Clifton Boys’ Home in Darliston, Westmoreland, said that the state agency had provided bedding for the home’s 28 young residents shortly before they moved into their newly constructed building in October.

“They have provided 20 bunk beds, and the bedding was provided a week before the boys’ moving in during the Heroes’ Day weekend,” said Perrin, who is also the custos of Westmoreland.