$6m donated towards rebuilding Walker's Place of Safety

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — The Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) has received approximately $6 million towards the rebuilding of the Walker's Place of Safety in Kingston, which was destroyed by fire earlier this year.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the agency, Rosalee Gage-Grey, made the disclosure to JIS News on Monday following the presentation of a cheque valued at $100,000 by the St Catherine High School at the agency's Duke Street office in downtown Kingston.

She informed that a technical team has been set up by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information to oversee the rebuilding exercise.

“The plan is to rebuild at the same location...we are working to get the estimates, so that we can share with our partners, who have offered to give some contribution,” she said.

She said it is hoped that construction will be completed by the end of the year.

The new facility, which will house no more than 30 residents, will also have counselling rooms and a play room, among other amenities. “It will have the full gamut; state-of-the-art,” Gage-Grey added.

The donation from St Catherine High School also included 12 boxes of clothes, books and toys. The institution is the latest contributor to the rebuilding of the Walker's Place of Safety and the welfare of the former residents.

Gage-Grey said that while cash contributions will offset the rebuilding costs, all donations are welcome.

“Because we are focusing on the rebuilding efforts, we wouldn't mind contributions in cash, but there is always the need for care items, non-perishable items because we also share with other facilities and families who have been affected. We have our Children and Family Care and Support Unit and we have been able to share some of what we have received with them as well, and so whatever contributions will be well received,” she said.

In the meantime, Gage-Grey said the agency will shortly roll out a programme focusing on the needs of all childcare facilities.

She informed that further details will be provided by the Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Floyd Green.

The donation from the St Catherine High School falls under the Love Care Project, which was organised by the peer counsellors at the institution.

Gage-Grey lauded the students for giving back. “We have seen a number of schools that have come together to collect donations for the children at Walker's and we find that very heartening to know that children see the need to give back, and we are quite appreciative of that,” she said.

A massive fire at the Lyndhurst Crescent location of the Walker's Place of Safety on January 15 claimed the lives of two children and destroyed the facility.

The 34 wards who were displaced are now being housed at other residential facilities, and Gage-Grey said they are adjusting to the new locations.

“They are going back to school. We have been having a number of sessions with them, and other persons have contributed in kind, whether it's a movie day or going to a hotel, and that has been helping in the (healing) process,” she pointed out.

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