Tighter scrutiny coming for CPFSA

MINISTER of Education and Youth Fayval Williams is moving to ensure that there is more supervision of the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) following the recent damning report released by the Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA).

In its report the OCA made it clear that its investigators were greeted with silence, subterfuge and possible lies as they probed the relationship between the CPFSA and disgraced United States-based educator Carl Robanske.

According to the OCA: “The leadership and management of the CPFSA have demonstrated that they either do not have the capacity or the will to effectively manage sensitive matters in spite of the high level of responsibility that has been entrusted to it in relation to some of Jamaica’s most vulnerable citizens”.

Against that background, Williams, who had previously called on the head of the CPFSA, Rosalee Gage-Grey, to step aside while a full investigation is conducted, on Wednesday said that the entity is to face increased oversight.

“A Cabinet submission is being prepared to seek approval to amend the laws to transition the CPFSA from being an executive agency guided by an advisory board that can only provide non-binding advice to the management of the CPFSA, to an entity with a board of directors that can provide stronger governance,” Williams said in a media release.

The minister also announced that a staff audit will be undertaken to build the skills of social workers and others in the child protection sector.

“Qualification requirements will be adjusted for new entrants into the sector in accordance with the higher standards and duty of care needed in the sector.

“The Ministry of Education and Youth will work with international partner UNICEF that recently completed an evaluation of Jamaica’s child protection system. Chief among UNICEF’s findings is the need for stronger monitoring of the operations of the child protection system, increased accountability of key stakeholders and improved enforcement capacity. As such, UNICEF’s calls for an independent accountability and oversight mechanism for the operations of the child protection system aligns well with the intent of the Government,” said Williams who also announced that she has given further directives for there to be full separation of the CPFSA from Ja Relief Ministries (JRM).

Williams noted that in the report on its investigation, the OCA confirmed that JRM is an entity that is closely associated with the Robanske-led Embracing Orphans and that the principals know each other and that they have traditionally partnered with each other on projects which target children in Jamaica.

Williams had instructed the CPFSA to break all ties with Embracing Orphans after Nationwide News Network first reported that Robanske had his teaching certificate suspended in the US in 2018 after he admitted to initiating inappropriate contact with a minor.

While the CPFSA claimed that it had ended its contact with Embracing Orphans, it entered into a new relationship with JRM without making this public.

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