Interventions for Youth at Risk | Western Cape Government

Interventions for Youth at Risk


Youths at risk are learners who have problems such as drug and/or alcohol abuse or are in trouble with the law. Their emotional and/or behavioural problems are barriers to their learning and development.

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

The five levels of support are:

Level 1: Prevention in All Schools

An early warning system, aimed at identifying children and families who may be particularly vulnerable, is implemented in all schools. Every effort is made in the classroom to prevent emotional and/or behavioural difficulties from occurring or worsening.

Level 2: Early Intervention in All Schools 

Emotional support and guidance are provided for learners who are struggling with emotional and/or behavioural barriers to learning in the classroom.

Level 3: Schools-based Support Programmes

School-based support programmes, youth development programmes and deliberate intervention are 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.

Level 4: Youth Care and Education Centres

Where the learner does not benefit adequately from the support programme, referral to a residential or developmental programme at a youth care and education centre may be considered. The principle of using the least restrictive and most empowering (normative) environment applies throughout the system.

Young people are referred to these centres in accordance with the relevant legislation. 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.

These standards aim to:

  • Build the capacity of educators and principals to meet the challenges of dealing with learners experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, emotional and/or behavioural barriers to their development.
  • Improve services to learners at risk.
  • Ensure the safety, education and development of these learners.

There are four youth care and education centres in the Western Cape:

Level 5: Special Youth Care and Education Centres

Special care is 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 for compulsory residence.

Each young person is provided with an individual development plan to help him or her to be rehabilitated. A psychologist, occupational therapist, professional nurse and social worker are available at the centre for consultation. The educators are specially trained in child care theory and practice.

There are two such youth centres in the Western Cape:


For more information
Dr Charles Coetzee
Tel: 021 467 2027
Fax: 021 425 7465

Provided At: These facility categories:
Provided by:
Government Body: (Western Cape Education Department, Western Cape Government)
The content on this page was last updated on 30 August 2013