Community child care workers ‘filling a huge gap’


3 June 2014

The Isibindi outreach programme, which deploys trained community-based child and youth care workers to provide support and protection to vulnerable children and families across South Africa, helped nearly 90 000 children in its first year of operation, says the Department of Social Development.

The Isibindi (“courage”) programme, aimed at children affected by HIV/Aids and other socio-economic challenges, was conceptualised by Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini and rolled out for the first time in the 2013/14 financial year.

Dlamini said on Monday that the model exists to ensure that orphaned and vulnerable children can enjoy a quality of life similar to children who grow up in a “normal” household.

“We don’t want any children to be negatively affected by factors not of their own doing,” Dlamini said in a statement. “Our aim is to ensure that they have access to all the rights and privileges enjoyed by children whose parents are still alive or able to care for them. We want them to have food, access to education and health care, and all other basic needs.”

Through the initiative, trained child and youth care workers are sent to identified households to help children with tasks such as preparing meals, completing their homework, getting ready for school and registering for social grants, and to give them advice, reassurance and comfort when they need it.

The department said the positive effects of the programme could already be seen. “While orphaned and vulnerable children who received no care often dropped out of school or received low grades, 76% of children who received support from the Isibindi model passed their matric in 2013.”

During the 2013/14 financial year, almost 3 000 child and youth care workers received training in order to be deployed in households where they were needed across the country. It is envisaged that 10 000 child and youth care workers will have been trained under the programme by 2017.

To help them cope with the difficult conditions they often encounter in these households, the care workers receive individual and group counselling from clinical psychologists.

South Africa is currently celebrating Child Protection Week, an annual campaign to promote the safety, well-being, care and protection of children.