Ethelbert Children’s Home is a children’s home and place of safety that cares for 65 children that have been removed from their parents because of sexual and/or physical abuse, neglect, abandonment, and those orphaned because of HIV/Aids. We have been caring for, and loving the children of South Africa since our inception in 1907.
Ethelbert is not an orphanage: the majority of the children placed with us have parents and our ultimate goal is to see the children happily reunited with their parents who have been rehabilitated. All cases are cleared by the courts first and thus we work in conjunction with the Department of Social Welfare to ensure that these children are placed back with their families, if at all possible.
Ethelbert’s main priority is to break the cycle of abuse, by providing children with a stable and loving environment, counselling and therapeutic support, which helps them overcome the terror and abuse they have suffered, so that they can regain their self-respect and their confidence to achieve their dreams. Our child-orientated programmes, dedicated residential social workers and childcare workers help traumatised children to develop positive life-skills in a secure environment.
At the same time our Social Workers work with the families, providing therapy and counselling to them to ensure that they also receive support to overcome the reasons why their child was removed from their care.
Residential Care 24/7
Ethelbert Children’s Home consists of six cottages, each with two residing Child Care Workers and a maximum of 12 children. Boys and girls are placed in separate cottages, with children under five finding a home in the toddler cottage. Ethelbert can care for a maximum of 65 children, though this number often differs due to the placement of children with rehabilitated parents or foster/adoptive parents.
Therapy, Education & Counselling
When children are placed in our care, we strive to do more than provide them with a bed to sleep in and food to eat. Intensive rehabilitation and therapy are almost always needed. We provide the children with schooling as well as extra curricular activities. We ensure that they live as normal a life as possible, and we strive to give them all the opportunities any ordinary child would have as they grow up. For the period that the children are with us, we are not only their legal guardians, but we also act as their surrogate family – providing everything from school shoes to pocket money.
The toddler unit cares for children of 18 months and older, many of whom are infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. We do our best to find adoptive parents for the children in our care, when their circumstances allow it, and are always thrilled when one of our children is adopted.
One of the most exciting programmes at Ethelbert is the Adventure Seekers. The goal of Adventure Seekers is to provide Ethelbert youth, who are not able to go home or have behavioural problems, with opportunities and skills to deal with difficult situations so that they can draw upon these experiences for everyday living. It involves the use of challenges found in nature such as diving, hiking, rock climbing, canoeing and backpacking to provide growth experiences in their lives.
Provision of life skills
There are also a number of life skills programmes being run at Ethelbert Children’s Home, one of which being the arts and craft classes that have been running for a few years. Two afternoons a week, Kathe Gouws teaches the children to make their own bead creations, knit and sew as well as master a variety of intricate techniques such as decoupage. Their creations include coasters, decorated glassware, greeting cards, bookmarks and beadwork to name just a few.
The children also have their own holiday home in Park Rynie, which accommodates 20 children, and is mostly used for children that cannot visit parents or hosts during the holidays. Here the children are able to relax, swim, play putt-putt, watch DVDs and just enjoy a normal beach holiday. Again, all of these activities are funded directly by Ethelbert Children’s Home itself.
At the same time our Social Workers work with the families, providing therapy and counselling to them, to ensure that they also receive support to overcome the reasons why their child was removed from their care.
Community Development: One Stop Counselling & Referral Service
In addition to supporting the families of the children in our care, Ethelbert Children's Home takes a proactive approach in dealing with the severe breakdown in family and community values and the increasing number of poverty stricken families entering the social welfare system. We are deeply involved in the impoverished communities of Arundel Gardens and Burlington. These urban slums suffer from crime, drug and alcohol abuse, extreme poverty, lack of basic services etc. Children here are very vulnerable to abuse and neglect. Our work involves a one stop counselling and referral service, assisting parents to adequately care for and protect their children, building the capacity of women and youth and supporting adults and youth overcome abuse, find work and apply for social grants.