Children’s home fire: Boys entered state care on Wednesday; Ministry accepts full responsibility for incident
Six-year-old Antonio George and 2-year-old Joshua George who perished in a fire at the Children’s Home on Hadfield Street, Georgetown at about 00:15 hours, today Friday July 08, 2016 were taken into the care of the Childcare and Protection Agency (CPA) , Ministry of Social Protection on Wednesday, July 06, 2016.
Extending her heartfelt sympathy to the George family, Director of the CPA, Ann Greene during a Press Conference today disclosed that “Antonio and Joshua and their other three siblings were taken into care Wednesday 6th at about 5:30 by the CPA pending investigation into alleged neglect and abuse.”
Additionally, a family member of the deceased brothers was also scheduled to meet with CPA officials for the five children to be placed in family-based care with support from the foster-care programme.
The children were taken for medical attention on Thursday, July 07 and the medical certificate issued confirms that they children are victims of neglect and maltreatment.
The Ministry said it accepts full responsibility for this incident and will bear the full cost of the funeral arrangements.
It has also committed to working with the family to ensure the other three siblings, and their ailing mother, receive all the support they need.
Accompanying the officials at the Press Conference today were the two staff members who were on duty at the time of the fire. The staff spoke of doing all they could to get all the children to safety. By their own accounts, they sought to suggest that the fire which gutted the upper flat of the building might have been electrical in origin.
The Guyana Fire Service (GFS) is still conducting investigations to determine the cause of the fire which destroyed the upper flat of the Hadfield Street Centre.
The Press Conference was also attended by Minister of Social Protection Volda Lawrence and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry Lauren Baird. Minister Lawrence admitted that several things could have been done differently and already moves are afoot to ensure that these shortcomings are fixed at the other facilities being managed by the ministry.
Sharon Jones, who was supervising the girls at the time, is the person who attempted to save one of the boys.
The other 29 children from the Drop-in Centre are housed at the Sophia Care Centre and the Half Way Home, located in the Care Centre’s compound and are currently receiving therapy provided by specialists from the Georgetown Hospital.