Minister Fritz addresses Child Protection Awareness Session
Good morning ladies and gentlemen,
I am so delighted to be out here today. This is such an important issue. Indeed, it is the defining issue of our time. If we are unable to protect our children and build the sort of strong, resilient, and nurturing families needed to raise our next generation, then our province and country stands no chance. Families, in whatever shape or manifestation, play a key role. Ours is to foster a culture in which parents and caregivers take responsibility for the wellbeing and safety of all children.
But before I continue, allow me to acknowledge the presence of;
- Cllr. Suzette Little, and colleagues from the City of Cape Town
- Mr. Quinton Arendse, and the DSD Metro South team,
- All our NGO partners– without you, we would have no chance of adequately tackling the problems faced by children and families in the province.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’ll be brief. Today is about hearing from your voices, sharing your ideas, using the inputs that will be gained here to use in our day-to-day operations as the Western Cape Government.
And let me just say, we take this very seriously. As a department we see first-hand the crisis that can occur when children are left to fend for themselves. We have seen first-hand the trauma endured by children of abused, neglected and abandoned children.
At the beginning of this year we heard with shock, the sad incident of the passing of Shaundre Kim Arries from Kensington, who died after being struck by a stray bullet in her home, by gangsters fighting outside. This child’s life was taken away by selfish thugs, who care little for the pain their hate and violence bring to our communities.
Sadly, children often bear the greatest cost from the ills that affect our society. Whether it is violence or the poverty that affects so many of our fellow residents, our children pay a great price, which leaves physical, emotional and psychological scars.
It wasn’t so long ago that the department dealt with a young two year old boy who was abandoned in Phillipi. His was a heart-breaking story, as his mother, feeling overwhelmed by her desperate poverty, felt she had no other choice than to give her child up. Another more recent case is that of a baby boy who was abandoned at the doorstep of a resident in Steenberg. His only “crime” was being born a child with serious health problems.
In both instances, the department of Social Development quickly stepped-in to render care to these children, and I’m glad to announce that both children are doing well, even though we still have not been able to track the parents of the Steenberg baby.
Ladies and gentlemen, our children are our most precious assets. The Department of Social Development will continue to play a leading role in ensuring this province fosters an enabling and nurturing environment for children. Indeed we are guided by the progressive Children’s Act in this regard, but also by the moral obligation to secure the futures of all our children. After-all that is what the fruits of our democracy must offer our children, a society underpinned by freedom, fairness and opportunity.
To realize this, the department has allocated the second largest portion of our budget R605.549-million, that’s 31%, to the Children and Families Programme.
We are continuously building partnerships with NGOs working in the ECD space, and have allocated just over R294-million for registered ECD centres. In this regard, our greatest challenge is to create an expanding network of registered ECD centres. This is where our partnership with MAYCO member Suzette Little has borne good results, as we are encouraging unregistered ECD centres to come forward, and get assistance to comply with the strict regulations aimed at protecting our children.
As DSD we are making real progress in realizing the vision and prescripts of the Child Justice Act too. We have made immense progress on our Child and Youth Care Centres. The norms and standards for facilities have been completed and therapeutic programmes to sentenced children with severe behaviour problems are currently being implemented in all secure care facilities. Our model is truly world-class, and other provinces have sought to learn from it.
However, we cannot walk this road alone. If we are to truly create a society and future for our children rooted in freedom, fairness and opportunity, then we must continue to work in a whole-of-society manner. We must continue to build partnerships and work better together as government, NGOs and the private sector.
I thank you.
Spokesperson for Albert Fritz, Minister of Social Development
Western Cape Government
7th floor, 14 Queen Victoria Street, Cape Town, 8000
Tel : (021) 483 9217
Cell : 083 280 9199
Email : Sihle.Ngobese@westerncape.gov.za