DSD remains committed to restoring the dignity of families in distress | Western Cape Government


DSD remains committed to restoring the dignity of families in distress

1 September 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic poses a serious threat to the well-being and dignity of many children and  their families due to challenges related to social disruption, such as financial insecurity, unemployment, caregiving challenges and other stressors resulting in changes to the daily routine of many children and their families. 

With the impact of these challenges likely to be with us for some time, the Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD), wishes to underline its commitment to promoting the dignity and well-being of all vulnerable grouping across the province, in particular, those children and families in distress.

The Western Cape Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez said, “We are not taking the impact of this pandemic in our communities lightly. We are aware that many children and their families have been exposed to varying levels of stress and trauma as a result of the multiple and exceptional challenges posed by the virus." 

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the overall wellbeing of children and their families, involve an interplay of external stressors and internal family processes. For instance, parental job loss is likely to impact children via complex pathways involving caregiver well-being e.g, psychological distress and processes within families, such as coercive parent-child interactions (Prime et al., 2020). 

Minister Fernandez added, “The impact of the virus has extended beyond merely being a health crisis. The economic and financial insecurity of families has also altered many child-parent relationships significantly. Despite the social disruption caused by the pandemic, we remain steadfast in implementing measures that focus on restoring hope and building the resilience of children and families, in distress across the province. By making people more socially mobile, we are able to increase productivity, with the knock-on effect of reducing reliance on social welfare.”

For the current financial year, R 824.98 million has been budgeted for the provincial Department of Social Development’s Children and Families programme. This budget allocation is largely dedicated to Child Protection services, Child and Youth Care Centres, Families and Early Childhood Development services.

The main aim of the Children and Families Programme is to help build families that function well and communities that care for, protect and develop children appropriately.

Minister Fernandez said, “The family is the basic unit of care, and should provide a suitable environment for the physical, emotional and social development of all its members and, as members of families, all children must enjoy these same rights, including the right to parental and family care and protection. Strong families improve the life chances of individual family members.”

Minister Fernandez added, “We are ensuring that our services to families are rooted within the Family Strengthening Approach. This approach recognises the family as the most fundamental factor influencing the lives and outcomes of children, and that families are strong when safe and thriving neighbourhoods and communities support them.”

Minister Fernandez continued, “ I would also like to thank our NPO partners for the crucial role they play in helping us ensure that support services for vulnerable children and their families are available for residents across the entire spectrum of the province.”

The provincial Department of Social Development and its NPO partners also offers support services to families in distress during this time. These services include:

  1. Family preservation services such as individual, couple and family counselling, marriage preparation and enrichment and support for families in crisis.
  2. Targeted awareness measures that link families to available support services.
  3. Parenting and caregiving skills to parents - including teenage parents -  to improve their ability to provide proper care and support to their children.
  4. Fatherhood education and training programmes and services that promote positive involvement in families as well as positive male role modelling.
  5. Programmes and services that facilitate rehabilitation and reintegration of homeless adults back into society into families and/or communities.
  6. Capacity building training of service providers in family preservation services.

“We are concerned about the impact of the pandemic on communities however, all hope is not lost when we all work together!”

“As a Department, we are cognisant of the need to address and improve this critical situation. DSD will continue to direct its efforts to restore hope and the dignity of all the people we serve,” concluded Minister Fernandez.

For more information contact:

Any persons needing to find out more information about the services we offer can make contact with our department by calling, 0800 220 220, to be directed to your nearest local DSD office.

For more information about our other services, please refer to the Western Cape Department’s Website below:


Media Enquiries: 

Joshua Covenant Chigome

Spokesperson for the Minister of Social Development, Minister Sharna Fernandez

Tel: 021 483 9217

Cell: 083 661 4949

Email: Joshua.chigome@westerncape.gov.za­