Helping Youth at Risk | Western Cape Government

Helping Youth at Risk

(Western Cape Government)

Boy needing helpYouth at risk are learners who often have drug- or alcohol-related problems. They might also be in trouble with the law.

They experience emotional and behavioural problems that are barriers to their learning and development. This seems to be related to factors like their home circumstances, environmental influences and the socialisation process. This should be taken into account when doing a comprehensive assessment and compiling an appropriate intervention plan.

Issues Facing the Youth

Youths that leave the school system early are extremely vulnerable and susceptible to negative and criminal behaviour. These youths are unprepared to succeed in the open labour market, leading to joblessness and poverty. The availability of jobs has a further negative impact.

Other factors that are prevalent in the Western Cape include alcohol and drug abuse, gangsterism and illegal firearm possession. Statistical analysis of children placed in child and youth care centres through the centralised admission system, shows an increased prevalence of violence-related and other crimes of a serious nature. According to statistics, young men in high-risk areas who are exposed to high levels of crime and violence from a very young age are more vulnerable to becoming involved in crime. Young women are more prone to become victims of gender-based violent crimes, such as assault and rape.

What Types of Youth are at Risk?

Youths at risk include children and youth who have been affected by:

  • Poor parenting or family disintegration.
  • Crime, violence, poverty, inadequate housing and health conditions.
  • Poor school performance.
  • Negative peer pressure, other negative environmental influences and a low self-esteem.
  • Experimenting with drugs.
  • A lack of self-control to deal with anger.
  • Inadequate job skills training.
  • Mental health conditions such as impulsivity and compulsivity and impaired cognitive functioning.
  • Unable to discern between right and wrong ("good and bad").

Happy teenage girlWhat Interventions are there for Youth at Risk?

In the Western Cape, there are five levels of support to prevent or resolve youth-related problems/challenges. The type of support and the restrictions placed on the learner depend on the nature of the problem. Interventions include educational, therapeutic and/or residential support services.

The five levels are: Prevention in all schools, early intervention in all schools, school-based support programmes, youth care and education centres and special youth care and education centres.

  • Prevention in All Schools: Aimed at identifying children and families who may be particularly vulnerable; this early warning system is implemented in all schools. Every effort is made in the classroom to prevent emotional and/or behavioural difficulties from occurring or worsening.
  • Early Intervention in All Schools: Emotional support and guidance are provided to learners who are struggling with emotional and/or behavioural barriers to learning in the classroom.
  • School-Based Support Programmes: Provided for learners who are identified as being at risk of being expelled from school, being placed away from home, or entering the criminal justice system, and for whom temporary withdrawal from the classroom is necessary.
  • Youth Care and Education Centres: If the learner doesn't benefit adequately from the support programme, referral to a residential or developmental programme at a youth care and education centre may be considered. The centres provide accommodation and a structured programme. The framework for good practice in these institutions is based on the standards laid down by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  • Registered child and youth care centres: A multi-programme model is implemented providing different levels of care from less restrictive to more restrictive (e.g. level 2, level 3, level 4 and specialist programme). These Child Youth Centre Centres (CYCC) programmes are provided to young people who are in conflict with the law or in severe emotional turmoil and who may need to be physically, emotionally and/or behaviourally contained. Young people are referred to these centres by the courts under the relevant legislation (Children’s Act 38/2005 and the Child Justice Act). Each young person is provided with an individual development plan to address their developmental needs. A clinical psychologist, occupational therapist, professional nurse and social worker are available at the centre to provide support and therapeutic services. Level 3 and 4 secure care centres provide education on the premises of the CYCC employing qualified educators. Child and Youth Care Workers must also have a qualification in child and youth care as they're also registered at the South African Council for Social Service Professions (SACSSP).

Who to Contact?

Contact the following child and youth care centres that's providing alternative residential care with education centres in the Western Cape:

Youth Care Centre Contact
Bonnytoun Youth Care Centre Tel: 021 986 9100
Bosasa Horizon Youth Care Centre Tel: 044 843 3863/4/5
Bosasa Clanwilliam Tel: 027 482 1902
De Novo Treatment Centre Tel: 021 988 1138
Ottery Youth Care Centre

Tel: 021 703 3030

Applications for placement must be submitted to the centralised admission’s office of the Directorate Facility Management and Quality Monitoring.

Vredelus Child and Youth Care Centre for girls in Elsies River Tel: 021 931 0233
Outeniekwa Child and Youth Centre (George) Tel: 044 803 7500


The above centres may not be directly approached for the placement of children. All applications for placement in Child and Youth Care Centres must be submitted to the centralised admissions office. Applications must be sent to

Telephone numbers for centralised admissions:

Placements in terms of the Child Justice Act and in-patient substance abuse treatment programmes
Tel: 021 826 6026 / 084 634 6571 or 021 826 6050 / 072 929 368.

Placements in terms of the Children’s Act
Tel:  021 826 6055 / 083 874 1175 or 021 826 6065 / 072 332 1117.  

For after-hour placements the Director: Facility Management and Quality Monitoring must be contacted
Tel: 079 358 6659

Awareness Programmes

The Department of Social Development, through its awareness programmes, aims to empower youths and enable them to take responsibility for positive lifestyles by providing the following:

  • Youth Safety Ambassador Programme: This programme targets 50 high schools in marginalised areas and focuses on leadership and community safety skills.
  • Sondeza Holiday Programmes in the Swartland Area (West Coast Region): Provides youth with leadership and international relationship skills.
  • Youth leadership camps.
  • Mass Opportunity Development (MOD) Centres: A collaboration between the Departments of Social Development, Education and Culture, Arts and Sport to provide after-school educational, sports and cultural activities as well as nutrition and social welfare services.
  • Two Oceans Academy in Goodwood (Metro North) and Oasis Academy in Schaapkraal (Metro South): Assists with personal development through life skills and sport.
  • Chrysalis Academy in Tokai (Metro South): Provides youth with job skills, life skills and education.
  • Gender-based violence prevention programmes to youth in all regions.
The content on this page was last updated on 15 May 2018