Children and Caregivers settled following fire at Jamaica National Children’s Home (JNCH)

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Jamaica News: The Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) extends gratitude to the management and staff of the Jamaica National Children’s Home (JNCH) for their execution of the fire safety evacuation plan during yesterday’s fire which destroyed the dormitory area of the home. All 41 children (23 girls and 18 boys) and seven caregivers were accounted for, and no injuries were received.

Hon. Alando Terrelonge, Minister of State, Ministry of Education, Youth, and Information expressed relief that all children and staff are safe.

“This incident is most unfortunate. Special thanks to the caregivers, the JNCH Board and the team at the CPFSA for moving swiftly in ensuring that the needs of the children are being met. Whilst this is a very unfortunate incident, we are pleased at the positive response from various individuals including corporate Jamaica who have outpoured love and support,” he said.

A team of social workers and counsellors from the Agency were on hand and provided psychosocial support to the wards and caregivers. The home which currently houses wards between seven to 18 years and caregivers, is a private institution managed by a Board and the Methodist Church in Jamaica.

In the meantime, the children have been relocated to another child care institution following discussions between The Most Hon. Andrew Holiness
ON.MP.; Prime Minister, Dr. Grace McLean , Acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, the Agency’s management team and members of the JNCH Board, who agreed on logistics in keeping the children together. All children are settled, and in high spirits.

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Commenting on the incident, Newton Douglas, Director, Policy, Planning and Evaluation at the CPFSA added that in keeping with the Children’s Home Guidelines and Regulation, each home has in place a Disaster Management and Evacuation Plan which details response in the event of a disaster such as fires, earthquake etc.

“The Disaster Plan at the Jamaica National Children’s Home would include fire safety equipment (smoke detectors, alarms and extinguishers) which were in place at the home. Additionally, the children and caregivers undergo continuous fire drills and fire prevention training, as recent as last week, which aided in their quick response to the fire,” Mr. Douglas said.

The Agency has been in dialogue with the Jamaica Fire Brigade which will conduct an assessment and a report is to be received in short order. A team of counsellors has been assigned to provide continuous psychosocial support for children and caregivers over the weekend and the coming weeks.

Hon. Karl Samuda, CD, MP; Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, during a visit to the children today, gave reassurance to the children and staff of the Government’s commitment to rebuild the home in the quickest possible time.

“We want you to know that we are working to ensure that you stay together with your siblings, friends, and house mothers who you are already familiar with and love and also understand that we are all working to ensure that you have everything that you need,” Minister Samuda added.

A full assessment and inventory of needs is being prepared in an effort to restore normality for children and staff alike. Immediate needs are clothing, shoes, personal care items, and toiletries. Donations can be made at 9
Christopher Road, Stony Hill, St. Andrew daily between the hours of 9:00a.m to
The CPFSA thanks the various partners – Jamaica Fire Brigade, Friends of the JNCH, Medallion Hall Hotel, Restaurants of Jamaica (KFC), Wisynco, Dominos Jamaica, Mothers Jamaica, Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporation
KSMC), Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC), Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), and the Jamaica Constabulary Force, among others who reached out and provided meals, bedding items and other supplies.

About Jamaica National Children’s Home

The Jamaica National Children´s Home was started in 1972 by the National Children’s Home, U.K. to provide a loving, caring and stable home to orphans and abandoned children as well as children with severe mental or physical disabilities whose parents are unable to provide proper care. It is located at Hope Gardens, Kingston 7 and is home to 86 children; 45 of whom are located at the Tegwyn Special Unit (for children with severe mental or physical disabilities) and is adjacent the main campus which is home to 41 children.


Source: JIS News

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