Prime Minister Andrew Holness says he is grateful that the third fire to destroy a children’s home in the last two years, had not resulted in any loss of life.
Police have launched an investigation into the fire that destroyed sections of the Jamaica National Children’s Home in Papine, St Andrew, south-east of here. The facility provided care and protection for youth rescued from poverty and neglect.
Media reports said that approximately 44 children were left without a place to stay as a result of the blaze that left an estimated J$300 million (One Jamaica dollar=US$0.008 cents).
“It’s very unfortunate. This is now the third fire we have had in the last two years destroying children homes, but I am satisfied that what I have seen here that the response from the government and the community has been appropriate,” Prime Minister Holness told reporters.
“The last fire scene I visited…the children were terrible traumatised and at this scene the children were very responsive…the managers of the facility had in place procedures…and the time of the fire meant that the children were not all occupying the premises”.
“He promised that the government would be responding “very quickly” to have the facility re-built, adding “the truth is that it gives us an opportunity to take a second look at the facility. Maybe we need larger facilities, maybe we need facilities that are built differently so it is now an opportunity to do that”.
He said the children affected would be kept together “in the initial stages, they will be taken to another location that we recently upgraded. They will be there temporarily until a decision is made as to exactly where they will be hosted for the long term.
“But generally I wish to assure the public that the children are all safe, they are all safe, no one was injured, no lives were lost (and) that the agencies have responded, and the children will continue to be in good care of the state,” Holness said.
The Jamaica National Children’s Home opened in 1973 as a branch of Britain’s National Children’s Home.
The sole purpose of the National Children’s Home is to nurture children and 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, sources from the organisation stated.
The Jamaica National Children’s Home includes three programmes vital to children: The Residential Dormitory: Provides for 50 children aged between six and 18.