International Day of Families
Today, 15 May 2014 we celebrate the 20th anniversary of International Day of Families, as proclaimed by the United Nations in 1994. This was done in response to changing social and economic structures, which have affected and still affect the structure and stability of family units in many families around the world.
We know that families play an important role in the survival, protection and development of children and adults.
Although varied and constantly changing, the family remains the dominant and natural grouping in society, which provides material and emotional support quintessential for the wellbeing and growth of its members.
Despite the fact that families are regarded as an important unit in society, we know that too many families in this province are at risk of experiencing breakdown in their ability to care due to risk factors such as:
- Early parenthood
- Elder headed households
- Child headed households
- Crowded households
- Families caring for chronically ill or disabled members and foster families
Their vulnerability is also due to victimisation, substance abuse, maltreatment or abuse in the family and coming into conflict with the law.
Therefore, while the family remains the most important institution of socialisation for many children, we are reminded daily that the very institution that is supposed to be the safest place, can sometimes become the most unsafe space. Too many children are abused, neglected, abandoned and murdered by people they know and trust.
However, It is often also in times of crisis that we become aware of how difficult it can become for families to access support services. Families continuously face the challenge of obtaining and co-ordinating the primary services their children and family members require. They must navigate a variety of organisations and providers and often face geographic and financial barriers.
To this end, the Department of Social Development is focusing on strengthening families through the building of partnerships with service providers in government and civil society that would make it easier for vulnerable families to access social welfare assistance.
The department wants to provide families and children with access to a basket of social welfare and related services through a network of services providers that are organised, so that families can use them easily and be satisfied with the services they receive. I am especially committed to ensuring that poor and vulnerable people receive quality services that they are satisfied with. This year we have allocated R569 million to our Children and Families programme. This money will go a long way to improve the lives of many vulnerable families.
The recently launched provincial youth development strategy also recognises the important role families play in society, and as such “family foundations” is the first pillar of the strategy, followed by education and training, economic opportunities, identity and belonging and, lastly, reconnection.
The Western Cape Government wants to see that families are strong and deeply connected to safe and secure communities that are supported by rich networks of care and support services that promote family strength.