Inclusive, Enabling Communities

Inclusive, Enabling Communities
Learning Brief


University of Pretoria Centre for Child Law

Addressing the registration issues experienced by unregistered child care facilities – eroding the blockages (Part 2)

Category: Inclusive, Enabling Communities | Caring and protection of particularly vulnerable groups | 6 March, 2015 - 17:09

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INTRODUCTION

In 2013, the Epworth Children’s Village and Kids Haven embarked on a project to assist unregistered Child and Youth Care Centres (CYCCs) to reach a position where they are able to comply with registration requirements as set out in the Children’s Act 38 of 2005. The Epworth Children’s Village and Kids Haven is affiliated with the Centre for Child Law at the University of Pretoria.

This project was started to hep CYCCs register with the Department of Social Development. The registration of facilities is an important safety mechanism for children in alternative care as it ensures that these children receive the necessary care, protection, and services in reputable and safe facilities. The inability of the CYCCs to register will result in their closure – leaving children that are in need of care and protection, destitute.     

We noticed that many CYCCs seemed to be facing a number of challenges in their attempts to register, such as a lack of knowledge and awareness about the registration process, or difficulties navigating the Department’s rigid registration procedures, or dealing with poor Departmental support for facilities that are trying to register. After conducting a pilot case study of CYCCs in three provinces, we uncovered the core challenges facing this registration process, namely: 1) the systemic disaccord between policy and practice, 2) registration blockages caused by poor communication and information from the Department, and 3) CYCCs lack of knowledge and trust regarding the registration process.

We also used the findings to develop formal a registration project, and we designed a manual detailing the registration requirements and procedure and addresses the frequently asked questions. Through our registration project we hope to increase knowledge about the main the issues facing CYCCs when they try to register. This knowledge will be shared with the Department of Social Development via productive and solution-orientated discussions and reports.

PROJECT ACTIVITIES TO DATE

Selection process

Our project partners identified the 8 centres to be mentored. To be eligible, the CYCCs needed to meet certain selection criteria for mentorship. The chosen centres had to:

  • Be willing to accept help and guidance;
  • Provide a diversity of services;
  • Understand that caring for children is a professional task and therefore accept that the children may move through the system either to foster care, adoption or reintegration;
  • Be willing to follow standard childcare and social work practices.

Representatives from the Epworth Children’s Village and Kids Haven visited a number of possible candidate centres and the held subsequent project meetings to discuss each centre in detail. After thorough discussions they selected eight CYCCs to mentor.

Registration workshop

The Centre for the Child Law hosted a workshop with these select CYCCs to explain the registration necessity and the process; and to discuss legal requirements around registration. A representative from the Department of Social Development was invited to give a presentation and answer questions about the registration.

LESSONS LEARNT: CHALLENGES TO REGISTRATION

Challenges to registration due to ingrained, systemic issues

Through interactions with the different CYCCs, our project partners identified some systemic discord between policy and practice that affect the implementation of the registration project.

  • First, the Department of Social Development has strict policies regarding centre registration, but in practice this is in direct contrast to what happens on the ground. In reality, we found that it is commonplace for Department social workers and police officials to place children in unregistered centres, despite policy advising against this practice.
  • Second, there is no clarity on who provides training to child and youth care workers, what training they are supposed to receive, and how much the training costs. It seems that not even child and youth care workers in Department facilities have been trained. As their training is required for the registration process, not knowing if their qualifications are acceptable frustrates registration and causes unnecessary delays.

Challenges to registration due to the Department of Social Development

  • There is a lack of proper and complete communication from the Department to the centres on what needs to be done in order to meet registration requirements set out in the Children’s Act. This leaves centres in constant uncertainty about how to proceed with registration, and if they will even be registered.
  • Furthermore, the Department is unwilling to consider a proposed option to provideconditional registration” for centres that aim to incrementally obtain complete registration by systematically addressing the administrative, logistic, and infrastructural requirements.

Challenges to registration due to the CCYCs

  • Some CCYCs do not want to go through the registration process because they fear being closed if their application for registration is refused/failed. For instance, sometimes the physical space and set up in an unregistered centre is insufficient to accommodate the number of children being cared for. As this does not meet the registration requirements, managers fear they will be forced to close their care facility.
  • Others are concerned that once registered the Department of Social Development will intervene in their daily operations, or in the way they run and manage their centres – thus sanctioning their work.
  • A number of unregistered centres are run on private property, which also does not meet the registration criteria for a care centre. For purposes of official registration, this property needs to be transferred into the centre’s name. However, while some of individual owners are willing to donate their property to the CCYC, not everyone is able/willing to do so – despite the fact that they continue to erroneously receive support and financial assistance from donors who assume that the facility is being run as an independent children’s home.

ADDRESSING THESE CHALLENGES: THE WAY FORWARD

In view of the issues highlighted above, and the lessons learnt regarding the challenges to the registration process, we have devised a number of solutions to take as our project goals forward.

Addressing immediate needs:

The first step is to work with only a few selected CCYCs to help them get registered.

Second we have identified a need to open lines of clear communication between the Department of Social Development and the selected centres we wish to register. This is essential so as to:

  • Confirm whether the Department of Social Development will want to register these centres once they have been walked through registration process
  • Ensure each centre has adequate, clear knowledge about the need to register their centre with the Department, and how to go about doing so.

The third step is to provide training to the selected facilities on best social work practices. Then we work with each centre to address the individual critical issues that hamper their successful registration such as governance, administration, personnel, and infrastructure concerns.

Addressing long terms needs:

We hope that in the long term we can adequately prepare the centres to present for registration. We also hope to establish a credible relationship with the Department of Social Development and obtain their willingness to receive the registration documents with an understanding of the likelihood of registration. We aim to work with the Department of Social Development and the CCYCs to ensure that blockages preventing these organisations from registering are slowly eroded, and that in the long term children are cared for in reputable, safe environments.

CONCLUSION

The Epworth Children’s Village and Kids Haven aims to assist unregistered Child and Youth Care Centres to officially register with the Department of Social Development. Through our initial project implementation with select CYCCs we have learnt about the core challenges facing this registration process, namely: 1) systemic disaccord between policy and practice, 2) registration blockages caused by poor communication and information from the Department, and 3) CYCC lack of knowledge and trust regarding the registration process. In this learning brief we have outlined a few steps taken to address the short terms and long term needs to tackle these challenges and ensure successful registration for CYCCs.


University of Pretoria, Lynnwoord Road, Pretoria


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 www.childlawsa.com

In Short

In this learning brief the Epworth Children’s Village and Kids Haven highlights the core challenges preventing Child and Youth Care Centres from registering with the Department of Social Development. The brief suggests practical short and long-term solutions to these issues in order to ensure that children are cared for in reputable, safe environments.


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