The Minister of Social Development, Adv Albert Fritz, has recently signed off the provincial Strategy for the Provision of Child and Youth Care Centres, which is expected to have a positive impact on children in need of care and protection. Several aspects of the strategy have been piloted, and resulted in positive outcomes. This includes the reduction of waiting times for children in need of placement, and ensuring children are appropriately placed and have access to programmes that are specific to their needs.
This Provincial Strategy, a requirement of the Children’s Act, has three primary focus areas:
- Ensure a proper spread of Child and Youth Care Centres (CYCCs) across the Province
- Ensure the provision of programmes that meet the needs of children within CYCCs
- Establish a management structure that could lead, direct, and oversee these centres and service
The Department funds 54 NPO Child and Youth Care Centres and manages 7 secure CYCCs that accommodate children from birth to the age of 21. There are currently 4981 children accommodated in these centres. A specialised directorate has been established to oversee and manage these centres. A centralised admissions system has also been implemented, where every child is assessed and correctly placed in the centre presenting the most relevant programme for the child’s needs.
On 1 April 2015 the Department identified the need for such a centralised admissions system, following the overwhelming need for appropriate placement. Only 65% of the funded bed-space was occupied, despite a substantial waiting list for children in need of placements. Since the implementation of the centralised admissions system, a more effective assessment and placement model, 86% of the funded bed-spaces are being filled and the waiting time for children to be placed had decreased.
Another challenge the Department faces is the placement for children with disabilities, older children, those exploited on the streets, dependent on substances and those with behavioural challenges. Therefore, the Department will in future, prioritise funding to registered CYCCs willing to accommodate children in need of the above services.
Minister Fritz says that this model will, within the next few years, ensure that every child in need of care and protection is appropriately placed.