MONTEGO BAY, St James — The Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) has now made contact with a family member of the last of 15 children who were placed in State care after the bizarre cult-like ritual in which three people were killed at Pathways International Kingdom Restoration Ministries on October 17.
Efforts are currently being made to have the child out of State care, hopefully before the next Family Court hearing in early January.
At that time all 15 cases will be assessed. In addition to the fate of the final child, it will also be determined if the children already placed with family members on a trial basis last Wednesday will remain in their care.
The last child's case was unable to proceed when the matter came before the court on Wednesday because a family member could not be reached in time for a social enquiry report to be done in time for the hearing. The family member has since made contact with the CPFSA and explained why she had been unreachable.
Eric Vassell, the CPFSA's regional director for Western Jamaica, told the Jamaica Observer on Friday that a social enquiry report is being done.
“The investigation is under way and as soon as this is done the matter will be brought back to court, as long as the placement is found to be suitable,” he said.
The day after the deadly incident at Pathways law enforcers had said 14 children were rescued and placed in State care. However, last week a news release from the CPFSA indicated that the number of children was actually 15.
On Friday, Vassell told the Observer that, while the agency has heard of other children who may be at risk, they have been unable to confirm those reports.
“If anybody knows of any child who was present there or has any form of affiliation, get in touch with one of our officers so that we can probe,” he urged.
The regional director is also encouraging individuals associated with Pathways and in need of help to get in touch with the agency.
“Once they make contact with us, we are more than happy to provide the services to help them to treat this and to cauterise the issues that they are faced with,” he said.
Among the services that the public can benefit from are medical assessment and counselling through a partnership with the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse, the police, Cornwall Regional Hospital and other agencies, he said.
— Anthony Lewis