Child Welfare SA White River is situated in the scenic Lowveld of Mpumalanga, South Africa. The town of White River is surrounded by mountains, forests, waterfalls and other beautiful attractions which nature has to offer. Despite the beauty and serenity of this tourist hub, White River is not excluded from the social ills which plague communities all over our country.
Social problems include the HIV/AIDS pandemic, child abuse, exploitation and neglect, unemployment, poverty, domestic violence, child trafficking and children made orphaned and vulnerable by HIV and AIDS and other diseases.
It can undoubtedly be stated that South Africa is facing a national child protection crisis. Statistical data reflects an alarming increase in the incidence of child sexual abuse (34%), physical abuse (64%), neglect (51%) and exploitation (37%). This crisis is further compounded by the continued increase in the HIV and AIDS prevalence in South Africa, resulting in children being left orphaned.
In response to the above-mentioned social problems, Child Welfare SA White River was established in 1991 as an affiliated member organisation of Child Welfare South Africa. Child Welfare South Africa is an umbrella body with 263 affiliates, outreach projects and developing organisations across the country. Established in 1924, Child Welfare SA is the oldest and largest non-governmental child protection organisation in South Africa. In addition, Child Welfare SA White River is registered as a non-profit organisation with the Department of Social Development and as a designated child protection organisation in terms of the Children’s Act, Act 38 of 2005.
Over the years, Child Welfare SA White River has developed into one of the largest designated child protection organisations in Mpumalanga, with satellite offices in Phumlani, Sabie, Graskop and Barberton and 24-hour victim support centres for survivors of domestic violence and rape in Sabie and Graskop. With the assistance of LOTTO, offices were purchased in Sabie. The Sabie office was officially launched in October 2012 and has its own full-time social work staff providing child protection services in Sabie and surrounding communities. Child Welfare SA White River is driven by 7 dedicated management committee volunteers, 13 full-time staff members and 51 programme volunteers.
Child Welfare SA White River provides a variety of child protection and social welfare services in the community. Services include prevention, early intervention, statutory work, victim empowerment, community development and the implementation of Child Welfare SA national programmes. Furthermore, the organisation provides in-service training and practical placement for 8 social work and social auxiliary work students at any given time, in an effort to relief the critical shortage of child protection social workers in South Africa. Post-graduate social work students from the United States of America are often placed at Child Welfare SA White River to gain exposure in the field of community development.
The vision of Child Welfare SA White River is: “Leading in the achievement of a safe and caring environment for children”. In order to achieve our vision, Child Welfare SA White River has implemented a number of programmes with the aim of protecting our most vulnerable children.
Goal and objectives of Child Welfare SA White River
To provide comprehensive developmental social work services to children, families and communities in need of care and protection in the White River, Sabie and Graskop areas.
• To render prevention, early intervention, statutory social work, after-care and family reunification services to children and families in need of care and protection
• To render 24-hour victim support services to survivors of abuse, rape and domestic violence at our victim support centres in Sabie and Graskop
• To advocate and lobby for the rights and protection of children
• To network with other stakeholders in the field of child protection in an effort to coordinate and integrate service delivery
• To implement national child protection programmes within local communities
• To conduct awareness campaigns with regards to children’s rights issues
• To provide material assistance and support to child headed households and children and families without any visible means of support
• To promote food security through community vegetable gardens and feeding schemes
• To empower communities through a range of community development programmes
• To promote early childhood development through our early childhood development centres
• To combat the effect of HIV/AIDS on children and families
• To provide internship/practical training opportunities for social work and social auxiliary work students
• To continue to train our volunteers and staff members to ensure high quality of service delivery
Programmes currently running at Child Welfare SA White River
• Asibavikele (Let’s protect them)
Asibavikele is the flagship programme of Child Welfare SA and is endorsed as a best practise model by the Department of Social Development, PEPFAR and USAID. The programme is currently running in the Phumlani and Graskop communities, reaching 337 vulnerable children per month.
Asibavikele is a nationally driven programme that facilitates community based care and support to children made orphaned and vulnerable by HIV and AIDS in disadvantaged communities. The programme involves communities in the identification and care of orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC), sensitize communities to the rights of children, and establish foster cane and safe homes. It further aims at equipping community volunteers, through professionally developed training materials, trainings and ongoing workshops, to intervene with vulnerable children within their local community.
Volunteers receive support and guidance through the infrastructure of Child Welfare SA. Volunteers interact meaningfully with children and families in need, assisting them to develop strategies to resolve difficulties and improve quality of life. Central to the success of providing comprehensive services, is the community volunteer’s ability to conduct initial assessments of the children they have identified as vulnerable. For this purpose, an easy to implement assessment tool has been developed. On completing the tool, volunteers are assisted by social workers/social auxiliary workers at site level to develop an intervention strategy. This process allows for the identification of most vulnerable children and the immediate referral or linking with a social worker. The program therefore follows a child protection ethos. The involvement of social workers in the planning and monitoring of such interventions also ensure that children receive quality services and supervision. Additional difficulties or concerns are addressed by community volunteers.
The team work approach implemented through the program ensures that comprehensive care is provided that sees the needs of each individual child as central. The 35 volunteers involved in this programme receive monthly stipends.
An impact assessment study has been conducted by independent researchers with regards to the Asibavikele programme. The report is available on request.
• Isolabantwana (Eye on the child)
Isolabantwana is a community based child protection programme that elicits community involvement in the identification and provision of protection services to children exposed to abuse, neglect and/or exploitation. Community members are recruited, screened and trained to work alongside social workers who provide protection services. Isolabantwana has been hailed as a good practice model and is endorsed by the National Department of Social Development. This programme has been successfully implemented in Sabie, reaching 165 vulnerable children per month.
• Food garden project
Child Welfare SA White River is currently running 8 food garden projects in Phumlani, Sabie and Graskop. Community members are empowered and supported to accept responsibility for the food garden projects in an effort to ensure food security and sustain the projects. The food garden projects is a viable alternative to handing out food parcels which tend to create dependency and disempowerment. Funding is required to establish additional food gardens in the communities we serve.
• Feeding scheme
A weekly feeding scheme is running in the Phumlani community where 400 orphaned and vulnerable children receive a balanced meal three times per week. This is very often the only balanced meal which these children have to eat. The feeding scheme is managed by a group of dedicated volunteers and Child Welfare SA White River is dependent on donations from the community to sustain this project. The feeding scheme has recently been extended to feed 50 older persons once per week.
• Empower the girl child programme
The girl child programme is a national programme developed by Child Welfare South Africa. It is a therapeutic group work programme for young women with a focus on empowering them towards successful enterprise development. The programme is currently rolled out in 5 schools in the White River and Sabie areas, involving 140 young women. More schools will be targeted as funds become available.
• Child headed households
As a result of HIV and AIDS, child headed households are a growing phenomenon in our communities. In terms of the Children’s Act, a child 16 years and older may head a household under the support and guidance of a designated adult. Child Welfare SA White River is currently providing direct material assistance and support to 12 child headed households in White River, Sabie and Graskop, reaching 49 children.
• Early childhood development (ECD)
Child Welfare SA White River provides direct support and technical assistance to 7 early childhood development centres, involving 200 children, in the communities of White River, Phumlani, Graskop and Sabie. Although early childhood development is a national priority in South Africa, these ECD centres do not receive any subsidy or support from the Department of Social Development and are in critical need of educational equipment and ongoing support.
• Boys and girls clubs
The White River and Sabie boys and girls clubs meet on a weekly basis. The aim of these clubs is to engage children in life skills programmes. There are currently 89 children involved in the clubs.
• Graskop after-school programme
The after-care programme runs every weekday from 14:00 to 16:00 and provides home work support and after-school supervision to 120 children.
• Graskop laundry project
With the assistance of an American donor, laundry equipment (automatic washing machines and tumble dryers) was purchased as an income generating project for unemployed women in the Graskop community. The project is supervised by the Graskop satellite office and is sustaining itself whilst it is generating an income for 10 unemployed community members.
• Holiday programmes
A holiday programme is conducted during every June/July school holiday in conjunction with Petra Mountain College, involving 800 children. The children are constructively occupied by a full programme and are provided with a meal. The programme includes life skills training, sport development, etc.
• Victory Park art project
This programme was established to teach children with learning disabilities entrepreneurial and life skills. 17 boys and girls attend the project on a weekly basis. Art work is taught and the children are assisted to sell their art work in White River.
• Employee assistance programme
Child Welfare SA White River is providing employee assistance programmes to 10 industries in the White River and surrounding communities, reaching 450 employees. The industries are visited by our social workers and social auxiliary workers on a monthly basis where employees are educated on issues such as domestic violence, TB, child abuse, neglect and exploitation, HIV and AIDS, etc. Individual cases are referred to our social workers for intervention.
• Social work placement programme
Social work, especially in the field of child protection, remains a scarce skill in South Africa. In an effort to address this critical skills shortage, Child Welfare SA White River provides internship opportunities to 8 social work and social auxiliary work students at any given time. With the assistance of Jobs Fund, Child Welfare SA White River will accommodate an additional 10 students as from 2013. The students are closely supervised by Child Welfare SA White River social workers. Many of these students are successful in finding employment in Mpumalanga after completing their studies. Child Welfare SA White River recently had two post-graduate students from the United States of America as part of their community development internship. We hope to reach a formal agreement with the University of Illinois to receive more of their students in the near future.
• Victim empowerment programme
Child Welfare SA White River operates two victim support centres which are strategically based at the police stations in Sabie and Graskop. The centres provide a 24-hour service to victims of child abuse, rape and domestic violence. Victims are assisted by a full-time victim support coordinator and 10 trained volunteers with emergency overnight shelter, counselling and support, making statements at the police station, rape kits, medical examinations at hospitals, and obtaining protection orders from the magistrate’s court. All cases are tracked by Child Welfare SA social workers. The volunteers receive stipends from Child Welfare SA White River. On average, 75 victims are assisted per month. The centres are furthermore involved in domestic violence awareness campaigns in the Sabie and Graskop communities. The Sabie victim support centre is also running a baking project to generate income for the volunteers involved with the centre.
• Phumlani laundry and sewing project
After receiving a donation of second hand washing and sewing machines, 7 unemployed community members initiated this income-generating project.
• Awareness campaigns
Child Welfare SA White River is continuously involved in awareness campaigns to sensitize children and communities with regards to children’s rights and child protection issues. Many of these awareness campaigns are focussed on national and international days such as child protection week, 16 days of activism of non-violence against women and children, World AIDS Day, World TB Day, international day against substance abuse, heritage day, etc. Emphasis is placed on child trafficking as Mpumalanga is bordering Mozambique and Swaziland.
• Advocacy and lobbying
Advocacy and lobbying for the rights and protection of children is a key component of Child Welfare SA White River. This is mainly done through regular radio talks, newspaper articles, the Child Welfare SA website and the social media. Child Welfare SA White River is actively involved in various child protection structures and forums in Mpumalanga, with the aim of coordinating effective and efficient services to our vulnerable children.
• Boy child programme
The boy child programme is the latest Child Welfare SA national programme and is the brain child of Child Welfare SA Mpumalanga. This therapeutic group work programme is based on the specific needs of boys and seeks to address issues such gender role identity, gender-based violence, peer pressure, HIV/AIDS and substance abuse. The boy child programme will be rolled out in White River, Sabie and Graskop in February 2013, targeting 5 schools and reaching 60 children.
• Skills transfer and capacity building programme
Since the start of 2012, Child Welfare SA is actively involved in a skills transfer and mentoring programme at the St John’s Care Centre in Barberton. The mentoring programme includes weekly supervision of the newly appointed social worker. St John’s Care Center is a child and youth care facility and place of temporary safe care which provides residential care services to 45 children infected with HIV/AIDS.
• Statutory social work services
As a designated child protection organisation, statutory social work services remain to be the core of our service delivery. Statutory services include the emergency removal of children, children’s court inquiries, foster care screenings placements, and supervision, adoptions, temporary safe care placements, family reunification and divorce mediation services. Child Welfare SA White River provides statutory services to 602children on average per month.
Child Welfare SA White River has an annual operational budget of R1.8 million. Subsidies received from the Department of Social Development amount to R571 500 per annum or 32% of the overall budget. Child Welfare SA White River is responsible to fundraise the remaining R1 228 500 per annum to sustain its services to the children of White River, Sabie and Graskop.
How you can assist Child Welfare SA White River
With every R1000 donated to Child Welfare SA White River, you can:
• Sponsor the monthly stipend of one unemployed Asibavikele/Isolabantwana/victim support community volunteer
• Feed 50 children involved in our feeding scheme
• Support a child headed household for one month
• Maintain four vegetable gardens for one month
• Provide five food parcels to children without any means of support
• Provide shelter and support services to 10 victims of child abuse, domestic violence and rape
• Provide two children with a basic school uniform and stationary
• Sponsor the finalisation of one adoption case
• Sponsor the foster care placement and supervision of two children in need of care and protection for one month
• Assist one early childhood development centre with ongoing support and assistance for one month
• Support the internship/practical training of two social work students for one month
• Support one community awareness campaign
• Sponsor 5 children to attend a holiday programme
• Sponsor one girl child programme per school
• Sponsor one boy child programme per school
• Sponsor our employee assistance programme for one month
• Sponsor our technical assistance and support to the St John’s Care Centre in Barberton for one month
• Sponsor the printing of 500 child protection brochures
• Contribute to the salary of one child protection social worker per month
• Help us to maintain our website and Facebook page for 12 months
• Sponsor two tanks of fuel for our social workers to reach out to the communities of White River, Sabie and Graskop
• Contribute to the ongoing training and continued professional development of one social worker for six months
• Sponsor the armed response security services at our White River, Sabie and Graskop offices for one month
• Sponsor our auditor’s fee’s for one month
• Sponsor the electricity bill for our White River and Sabie offices for one month
• Sponsor the rent of our Graskop satellite office for one month
• Contribute towards the running costs of our White River, Sabie and Graskop offices (telephone, internet, stationary, printing, etc.)
The choice is yours….. Please indicate which project you wish to support and we will allocate your donation accordingly.
With your donation of R150 000, you can sponsor the overall operations of Child Welfare SA White River for one month.
Child Welfare SA White River is awaiting its registration as a Public Benefit Organisation with the South African Revenue Services. Once received, donors will be entitled to tax rebates in respect of all donations made to Child Welfare SA White River.
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children”