JIS News

Story Highlights

  • An independent disciplinary panel has been convened to look into the conduct of officers of the Child Development Agency (CDA) following the removal of 34 wards of the State from the Sunshine Childcare Facility.
  • The disciplinary panel, which includes a retired judge, will begin hearings on December 22.
  • The convening of the panel came at the instructions of Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, who directed the Chief Executive Officer of the CDA, Rosalee Gage Grey, to look into the disciplinary procedures in order to apply the necessary sanctions against the officers involved in the removal of the children from the Spanish Town-based home.

An independent disciplinary panel has been convened to look into the conduct of officers of the Child Development Agency (CDA) following the removal of 34 wards of the State from the Sunshine Childcare Facility.

The disciplinary panel, which includes a retired judge, will begin hearings on December 22.

The convening of the panel came at the instructions of Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, who directed the Chief Executive Officer of the CDA, Rosalee Gage Grey, to look into the disciplinary procedures in order to apply the necessary sanctions against the officers involved in the removal of the children from the Spanish Town-based home.

The directive was issued after the Minister received a report from the Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) concerning the conduct of the CDA officers.

Minister Hanna, in a statement to the House of Representatives on Tuesday (December 8), said the report from the OCA outlines a number of breaches that occurred during the removal of the children.

It cites violations such as disruption in the children’s education resulting from the removal; insensitivity of the officers to the cries of children, who were visibly traumatised; and a callous and chaotic removal process.

“I have seen this report; it is inexplicable and unacceptable that officers of the CDA could have acted in such a callous manner, especially towards wards of the State,” Minister Hanna said.

“We have established guidelines and protocols …to deal with the care and protection of our children in residential care, which all officers must adhere to in executing any action, taking into consideration what is in the best interest of the child or children,” she noted further.

The OCA report explained that the Manager of the Sunshine Childcare Facility, Vivilyn Morgan, was served with a notice to vacate the premises, with an effective date of February 15.

However, Ms. Morgan was successful in obtaining an extension for two and a half months until May 5, 2015. The CDA went in and removed the children in February.

Ms. Hanna said the report also highlighted that certain individuals at the CDA failed to follow the established procedures and policy application, such as failure to adequately prepare the children for their removal to other locations.

To this end, a task force, chaired by former Chairman of the Women’s Leadership Initiative, Sharon Lake, has been convened to rigorously interrogate the systems that govern the monitoring, protocols, and reporting structures as well as the placement and removal of children in the child protection sector.

“I have asked them to make the necessary recommendations so that our systems and procedures are improved to reinforce the appropriate culture necessary for child protection,” Ms. Hanna informed.

The task force report should be submitted by February 2016.

Meanwhile, Ms. Hanna informed that she has met with and apologised to Ms. Morgan and the children, for the distress caused by the reported actions and conduct of the CDA officers.

“I have also assured her that I would do all that is necessary to afford her the opportunity to continue caring for the children entrusted to her care as wards of the State,” Ms. Hanna stated.

She also informed that a team from the Ministry has visited the new premises found by Ms. Morgan to ascertain the suitability of the location.

In addition, instructions were given to the CDA, to immediately take steps to complete the review of Ms. Morgan’s licence application for a decision to be taken, so that if at all possible, the children that were in her care can be relocated to the new facility in time for their usual Christmas celebrations.

“In the midst of this unfortunate situation, I want to commend Ms. Morgan for her devotion to the care of children for over 30 years. We need more people like her in the system,” Ms. Hanna stated.

Skip to content