MEC Fritz Commends Successful Family Restoration Project
As we conclude the current financial year, I want acknowledge the outstanding work of the Western Cape Department of Social Development on the ‘Families At Risk’ project. This project seeks to address the needs of families by ensuring that the state’s constitutional and statutory obligations, in terms of Section 28 of the Constitution, are fulfilled.
In South Africa, many families experience instability which increases the likelihood of abuse, neglect, criminality and other risky behaviours in children and adults. Major new legislative provisions have been introduced in South Africa, enabling decisive state intervention in families at risk. However, the state is not yet fully utilising these provisions.
In practical terms, this project identifies and refers children and families at risk through schools, clinics, hospitals and Early Childhood Development (ECDs) centres. It establishes co-operation between the SAPS and local authorities on family law matters including domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, and child crime. It makes provision for court processes, alternative care, adoptions, family mediation and planning, parental rights and responsibilities, parenting skills, marriage counselling, reunification services for children in temporarily alternative care and reunification for homeless adults.
This project has been met with great success. In its first 3 years of implementation, between 2016/17 and 2018/19, the primary objective was to match the existing legal requirements and the demand for services, whilst prioritising high risk families. Hence, this programme:
• Removed 70 children from the streets;
• Reduced vacancies in funded Child Youth Care Centres (CYCCs) to 2%;
• Cleared court backlogs for child protection cases;
• Implemented case monitoring data tracking in DSD’s performance information systems; and
• Reduced the backlog in foster orders requiring extensions.
Projects such as these would not enjoy the success that they have without the support of other key stakeholders. Many aspects of this project are inherently transversal, requiring support from the Children’s Court, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, the Office of the Family Advocate, and the Departments of Health and Education. Clearly, we cannot begin to address the many social ills in our country without the by-in of these stakeholders.
Under my leadership, the Western Cape Department of Social Development will continue to work Better Together and address the plight of families at risk to restore tranquillity and calm to those most vulnerable.