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Children’s advocate tables second damning report on Gage-Grey’s leadership

Published:Wednesday | January 11, 2023 | 1:25 AMKimone Francis/Senior Staff Reporter
CPFSA head Rosalee Gage-Grey.
CPFSA head Rosalee Gage-Grey.
Executive director of Embracing Orphans, Carl Robanske.
Executive director of Embracing Orphans, Carl Robanske.

Six years after calling into question the leadership of Rosalee Gage-Grey at the helm of the state’s child protection agency, the Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) has released another explosive report knocking the CPFSA CEO after several...

Six years after calling into question the leadership of Rosalee Gage-Grey at the helm of the state’s child protection agency, the Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) has released another explosive report knocking the CPFSA CEO after several wards were exposed to an American donor who was punished for indecent involvement with a minor.

The disclosure was made in a 93-page report by the OCA, which was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday. It prompted Minister of Education and Youth Fayval Williams to press for Gage-Grey’s suspension of duties as head of the the CPFSA – Child Protection and Family Services Agency –pending the outcome of investigations by the ministry’s acting Permanent Secretary Maureen Dwyer and the Public Service Commission.

Williams told Parliament that the only course of action was for Gage-Grey to “at least” step aside while additional investigations are carried out.

“The situation is untenable and cannot be defended,” the minister told colleague legislators.

The report accused Gage-Grey of a “gross breach” of care for engaging Carl Robanske through the CPFSA.

Robanske was flagged in the US over inappropriate sexual contact with a child and had his teaching licence suspended.

Gage-Grey said she “unfortunately” could not comment on the matter when contacted by The Gleaner and did not respond to questions querying whether she would step aside.

Meanwhile, several calls placed by The Gleaner to his cell phone went unanswered on Tuesday.

“This is certainly, perhaps, a move in the right direction,” Children’s Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison said in reacting to the minister’s statement during a Gleaner interview on Tuesday.

“Not casting judgement either way, but for the process to flow without any perception of interference,” she added.

Gordon Harrison had recommended that Williams take disciplinary actions or other proceedings against Gage-Grey.

She said there are serious issues at CPFSA, which must be looked at “very carefully” to ensure the proper management of state agencies of that nature and to ensure that all actions are in keeping with the best interest of children and wards transitioning from their care.

Like 2016, when the OCA investigated the then Child Development Agency’s (CDA) – as the CPFSA was then known – handling of the transfer of wards from Sunshine Child Care Facility to several others, Gordon Harrison said that there was a breach of the duty of care and noted that the recent investigation resulted in a similar conclusion.

“And both would lie at the feet of the leadership,” she said.

The 2016 report, which was tabled in Parliament but fell victim to a change in administration, had revealed breaches of the Child Care and Protection Act, including younger state wards being indecently exposed to older wards who sexually harassed them. This stemmed from inadequate provisions at one facility.

The report also revealed that wards preparing for exams were kept out of school for up to six weeks, a suicidal ward was kept away from arranged counselling that was in place and a seizure baby was administered the wrong drug because of the CDA’s hasty and unorganised move from the facility.

The CDA had been served with a notice to quit Sunshine Child Care Facility, but through the court, secured a two-and-a-half-month extension.

“The Child Development Agency had good ground on which to be concerned about the welfare of the wards who had been placed at Sunshine in light of the expired notice to quit. The real issue of the possible displacement of these wards had to be attended to. It is my considered view, however, and I so find, that the CDA acted capriciously and unreasonably based on the manner in which they approached the situation,” Gordon Harrison said in the 2016 report.

“The Child Development Agency blundered in its execution in this matter. Some of its representatives came across as uncaring, unsympathetic and inappropriately placed to appropriately deal with children and their vulnerabilities. It is evident that more intensive training needs to be done so that the agency can prioritise the various needs that children within its care do have with some degree of sensitivity,” she added.