Director of the Child Care and Protection Agency (CPA) Ann Greene said losing brothers, six-year old Joshua George and two-year- old Antonio George, in a fire last year at the Children’s Drop-in Centre was the biggest downfall of the agency in 2016.
The two brothers were housed at the centre on Hadfield Street, Georgetown which is administered by CPA after being taken from their mother by the Ministry of Social Protection’s Welfare department. Most of the children managed to escape, but the two boys remained trapped in the building during the fire.
Greene remorsefully noted that the CPA is still trying to get over the loss of the two children. “We would probably never get over it, because it is such a tragedy to have lost those two children. However, we will work to ensure this never happens again.”
The CPA Director added that the loss of the children also affected the staff at the Drop-in-Centre, as well as the CPA, and many changes were made and shortcomings addressed to prevent its recurrence.
Greene highlighted that in the child care protection profession, when a child is in safe keeping, and dies, especially by fire, the only thing that keeps a child protection officer going is the thought that other children need them to be there for them.
“The work never stops, this work is no easy one, and it is one of the most risky roles in the public sector today, because it has a lot to do with public opinion. Many times it is subject to media bashing, some of which are unfair. Nevertheless, we will try our best with the resources we have to provide better care for our children in Guyana.”
Despite this struggle the CPA has seen some success in 2016. Greene pointed out that as at October 2016, there were 3,294 cases of child abuse the agency responded to, Greene said.
Moreover the CPA reported that during the period January to October 2016, the country saw 4,259 cases of which 3,209 were related directly to child abuse, whereas 965 recorded reports related to other welfare matters, including child trafficking and child labour.
The CPA director said the agency will be upping its game in 2017 to better protect children.