Thursday, 26 January 2023 15:17

Blaine calls for CPFSA head Gage-Grey to step aside

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Founder of lobby group Hear The Children’s Cry, Betty Ann Blaine, has said that the embattled head of the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), Rosalee Gage-Grey should have stepped aside to facilitate a probe into her management of the organisation.

“I would step aside to facilitate an investigation if I were in her position,” Blain said.

Gage-Grey has so far resisted calls for her to step aside following a damning 93-page report from the Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) into her management of the CPFSA and whether her stewardship exposed wards of the state to abuse.

Tuesday marks two weeks since the Minister of Education, Fayval Williams, who has portfolio responsibility for the CPFSA, asked Gage-Grey to step aside.

The People’s National Party Youth Organisation has also asked Gage-Grey to demit office and so too have placard-bearing protestors who took to the streets calling for her head.

She is being investigated by the Public Service Commission (PSC), which is expected to shortly make its recommendation.

The commission could recommend that the CEO be fired.

“If I were in Mrs Gage-Grey’s position, given all that we have heard, the report that has been put out by the OCA, including the public’s response — if I were in her position as head of CPFSA I would have stepped aside,” said Blaine during an interview with Loop News. “I would not wait for anybody to ask me because it’s the appropriate thing to do.”

She added: “So I wouldn’t wait on anybody to tell me that I must step aside or that I must resign although that’s a different matter where they will have to get all the facts.”

On January 10, Williams asked Gage-Grey to step aside to facilitate the probe by the PSC.   

The minister was speaking during a ministerial statement in the House of Representatives where she referenced the contents of the OCA report, which details the relationship between Gage-Grey and Carl Robanske, head of the US-based organisation Embracing Orphans.

The OCA’s probe followed a news report in March 2021 which revealed that Robankse had his education certificate suspended in the United States after it was determined that he had sexually inappropriate exchanges with a minor.

The OCA said Gage-Grey “failed in her administrative and moral duty to these former wards of the state”, who were based at the transition facility, The Father’s House, operated by Embracing Orphans.

“Her responses indicate that she is either unaware of, or has a reckless approach to the significant vulnerability which attaches not only to them when they are minors, (that is below 18 years) but also even after and during their transition out of the formal care system,” the report said. 

In her statement, Williams pointed to the OCA’s report, which highlighted instances of deception on the part of Gage-Grey, including when she misled the minister during regular weekly meetings to believe that the CPFSA had ended its relationship with Embracing Orphans and Robanske.

Rather, when she told the minister that she had engaged the services of another entity — Jamaica Relief Ministry, an overseas mission that operates a children's home in the western end of the island — she did not disclose that the entity had an ongoing relationship with Embracing Orphans.

The report also cited that while the wards of the state, all girls, should be at least 18 years old to be housed at The Father’s House, several minors were living at the facility. They were reportedly being coached to not cooperate with the OCA’s investigation.

“The situation is untenable, it cannot be defended,” declared Williams while stating that she was “enraged” at the situation.

Williams said based on the report of the OCA, “it is not in the best interest of our children in State care” for the CEO of the CPFSA to remain as head of the agency while further investigations take place.

Last modified on Thursday, 26 January 2023 15:26