HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE NACCW 20th BIENNIAL CONFERENCE
30th June – 2nd July, CTICC
On Tuesday 30th June:
- In a televised greeting to the conference, Archbishop Desmond Tutu said the suffering of the children made God weep, but Child and Youth Care Workers were drying God’s tears.
- The UNHCR’s Senior Adviser for Children, Monika Sandvik-Nyland, said the UNHCR was seeking to implement a pilot Isibindi programme, in partnership with the NACCW, to test the model in a refugee camp setting;
- Rolf Widmer, of the International Federation of Educative Communities (FICE) said that FICE had already implemented aspects of the Isibindi model in Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon; and
- Canadian child and youth care specialist Professor James Anglin termed the Isibindi model one of the great social innovations in all of Africa, and among the greatest advances in child and youth care – globally – since World War Two.
- Dr Rose September, Chief Director in South Africa’s Department of Social Development, said it was a great honour for the department to be associated with the NACCW. Residential care was not in the best interests of all children, she said. South Africa had a proud history in the children’s rights field.
On Wednesday 1st July:
- UNICEF’s Dr Yulia Privalova-Krieger said three South African children died daily due to violence, abuse or neglect compared to a global average of 1.5 children. There was “a crisis of masculinity”. She dubbed community child-care workers, “pioneers in child protection”.
- Dr Thom Garfat, a Canadian Child and Youth Care Worker of 40 years experience, said community child care workers created moments for children to feel safe and supported. South Africa was having a profound influence on the international literature in this regard, he said.
- Professor Lina Puckree, Executive Dean in Health Sciences at the Durban University of Technology said DUT was presently the only tertiary institution offering a programme in child and youth care. The university would do whatever it could to support the enrolment of 10 students for a Masters Programme this year, and the next step was the development of a doctoral programme.
- Ms Aziwe Magida, Chairperson of the Professional Board for Child and Youth Care Work, said close to 7000 child and youth care workers had registered with the Council since the promulgation of the regulations in October 2014.
- Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini described South Africa’s indebtedness to the new Child and Youth Care Worker “profession”. More than 130 000 orphaned, vulnerable and at-risk children were already receiving daily care and support from trained Child and Youth Care Workers under the Isibindi programme. “It makes me proud because if we were not there, nobody would be looking after those children… Our country continues to be indebted to you for the work you do taking care of vulnerable children in our society,” she said.
On Thursday 2nd July:
- On the final day of 20th Biennial Conference of the National Association of Child Care Workers, the parallel Youth Conference presented to the main plenary its discussions and recommendations on (1) substance abuse, (2) teenage pregnancy, (3) education, (4) crime, violence and gansterism, and (5) poverty and unemployment.
- Youth Conference delegates comprised approximately 300 young South Africans either in residential care or connected to the Isibindi programme.
- Among their most innovative proposals was to strengthen relationships between police and schools by each member of the police adopting a school in the community with a view to improving child safety.
- The Youth also proposed that government work with the private sector and other stakeholders to establish a more formal and accessible system of internships as entry points for young people to the job market.
- Listening to the presentation by the youth was Ms Tshidi Maaga of the Department of Social Development, who would ensure their recommendations were considered in the formulation of the department’s youth policy and strategy.
- Later on Day Three, a Live Global Alliance Child and Youth Care Webcast was convened, linking the Cape Town conference to 131 online viewers from across the world.
- In her exploration of the UN guidelines for alternative care, Jennifer Davidson, Director of the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children at the University of Strathclyde, in Scotland, described the thinking behind Isibindi as “world leading”. The Convention on the Rights of the Child was written before the HIV pandemic and includes little reference to the phenomenon of child headed households. HIV asked: Do child headed households remain child headed households, or are all the children brought into alternative care? Out of practicality it became clear that it was impossible to bring them all into alternative care. Over the past 20 years the world was beginning to understand the views of children, and what they were capable of achieving with the appropriate support.
- A professionally kaleidoscopic experience, the event was testimony to what can be achieved for children and families through positive synergistic partnerships linking local organizations and practitioners with international interest and expertise.