Sunday, 9 August 2020

WOUNDED HEALERS...CHILD AND YOUTH CARE IN SOUTH AFRICA



It was one of those barge into the office occasions. 
CYCW: "Do something to this boy. He threw a metal toy car                -  this car - at me. It hit me on the breast."
ME: " Are you OK? Please go to the Clinic and get checked out".
CYCW " I'm not going to that place. Do something to this boy."
ME: " Leave me with the boy". 

He was a very little fellow.  Eventually he told me his story. He was playing with the car on the floor in the passage entrance to the dormitory. He was making car noises - loudly. It was the "quiet hour". After Sunday lunch there was a quiet hour for the houses.

 The child and youth care worker told him to stop. He stopped for a while but got bored, so he seated himself on the step at the entrance and played "cars" again. This time she yelled at him. "A lot of yelling", he said.  He heard her voice but the only words he heard were "Get out, get out!" He couldn't explain why he was playing, so he threw the car into the passage. He didn't mean that it should hit her."

It must have been a little under a year when I was told that she had had a mastectomy. She never ever herself told me. Not ever!

I was never allowed to forget that incident. At every turn I was told that I only cared for the children and young people. Child and youth care workers meant nothing to me. Twas as if I was not just the Director/Manager, but an uncaring father heading a family - her family. 

On Facebook there was a post from Claudia Roodt a trauma advisor. It will be shared later in the blog. Claudia Roodt was once the Director of a well established, quality residential facility for girls in Capetowm. She is well qualified to talk trauma and child and youth care work.

There rushed to mind a number of experiences in interviews for appointments as child and youth care workers over the years.

These were questions I found useful in assessing/revealing. personal character suitability for the nature of the work in a residential programme. Obviously "Why do you choose to be a child and youth care worker?" The answers to this question rang bells for me. "I have raised my own children. I have enough love in me to love many children. I  have been there  I know first hand how it is to have a difficult life".

The follow up question was: "Whats been the worst thing that has happened to you in your life?" 
Then next. "How did you deal with it?"

There were invariably and understandably, spoken and unspoken responses to this question. Some more likely to be spoken than others: divorce, death of a close family member -  child or spouse, the experience of some other kind of loss or violence like armed robbery, financial misfortune or failure.

The least likely to be spoken were parental abuse, an abusive relationship sexual assault.

 The line of the interview questions was to probe whether the applicants were carrying unhealed traumatic experiences Some say, rather harshly, "emotional baggage". I used to call it "Carrying a piano on his/her back'.

Claudia Roodt's post listed tunes that the piano plays.

"FIXING OTHERS
PEOPLE PLEASING
CO-DEPENDENCY
EXTERNAL VALIDATION NEEDED
LIVING ON HIGH ALERT
FEAR OF ABANDONMENT
DE-PRIORITIZING OWN NEEDS
NEED TO PROVE THEMSELVES
TOLERATES ABUSIVE BEHAVIOUR
ATTRACTS NARCISSISTIC PARTNERS
DIFFICULTY SETTING BOUNDARIES".

You can see. The hurt are drawn into being the 'wounded healer'. The stress is on the title of that list 
"UNHEALED CHILDHOOD TRAUMA MANIFEST AS ......" .....unhealed.

Let's look at the effects of coming into child and youth care with the scars of trauma unhealed. The examples and thinking come from my experience in the field and not from an academic or theoretical sources.

A therapeutic environment proved frequently to draw the wounded healer as there was an underlying unexpressed, perhaps unconscious attraction to be where there were the hurt and where healing happens in order to find healing of self. "If I am an instrument of healing in an environment of healing, I will heal also." ...Faulty thinking!

It was a staff meeting. Present, a young student Psychologist, doing a practical year of constructive delay before undertaking the Masters degree. She had been newly appointed as Programme Manager. An unqualified, but long serving child and youth care worker found a moment to find fault with the programme management of a young person in her care. The young Programme Manager defended her interventions with verbal skill and very credibly.

Next day, the office barge in
"I'm resigning" It was the young Programme Manager. " Here's my letter. I only  have to give you 24 hours notice." 

She explained why. At the meeting I didn't support her against the child and youth care worker. 
ME "I didn't support the child and youth care worker. I wasn't going to take sides with either of you. I thought that you were doing very well on your own. It's part of learning." 
PM "Last night I booked to go to Israel.  I'm going to work my year at a kibbutz. They all support each other in a kibbutz. You let me down. If you can do  it once you will do it again. You are this place!. I thought that I would be protected here.

Half an hour later. "This is not the first time I have run away after experiencing let down. I always do this. It's like Act 1 Scene 1 of a play which keeps repeating itself".

Oh, oh, painful childhood experience unspoken, untold, unhealed, unresolved.

The interview question "How did you deal with it - the traumatic experience?" If spoken, this is the key. "Seeking therapy from a professional is, oh, so frequently avoided when it is most needed. Then to discover that the nature of child and youth care work mirrors all those traumatic incidents through the lives of the children and raises them to the surface again.

The expected healing through being a healer in a therapeutic milieu is all too often experienced a let down and proves to be a heavier burden on self and the very children and young people designed to be healed. 

 Some organisations can and do provide therapeutic services to child and youth care workers. I can talk here from experience. I say this to urge child and youth care workers who experienced unhealed, unfinished business from childhood or adult trauma to accept professional therapy.

Emotional fatigue (burnout) and more, is a likely effect of heaping the children's traumatic experiences upon our own. 

To be effective, our stories must be told, must be spoken. Once healed, there is research which show as wounded healers, our own experience can make us better, more empathetic, more effective healers of others.  








Sunday, 2 August 2020

MORE LOCKDOWN AND AFTER..CHILD AND YOUTH CARE IN SOUTH AFRICA



Now in South Africa, we have been there for real.

 The experience of lockdown must be a window of opportunity for change in Child and Youth Care and in child and youth care work.

Facebook during lockdown was loaded with comment on child and youth care work being an essential service. Asif it was a suprise! Like we didn't know. It has been legally an essential service  for a very long time.. many, many years. Some comment was "Read the Children's Act 38 of 2005 with Amendments". It is there clearly stated that child and youth care workers in residential facilities are essential service practitioners.

 This we learnt has scary implications personally, organisationally and professionally. 

 Personally - it is a huge personal risk and requires huge dedication to our professional practice and to the children and young people in our care.

Organisationally - shift systems, especially became an organisational headache. Some child and youth care workers regarded some organisational solutions to be unfair. They said that in some facilities (not all), some staff, including Managers and professionals who saw themselves as  not necessary in face to face contact with the young people, did not come into  the facility whilst child and youth are workers were exposed

 As a profession - A huge concern of mine is that child and youth care workers have not been recognised nor acknowledged as front-line essentilal service workers in the lockdown pandemic period.

The South African President and other State Ministerial officials' voice of appreciation is heard for health workers, social workers, police, army and 'care workers'.'Care workers' are not child and youth care workers who never receive mention. Not once ! Not once in public by officers at that high level, have I heard child and youth care workers thanked, noticed, spotlighted, the profession mentioned by name.  

 This lack  of recognition for our essential work has to be changed..Now! We have to use this window of opportunity to make our value, professionalism and dedication known and recognised.

 So then, after lockdown we are to be appreciated for who we are, what we do and how essential we are .

 Covid 19 and lockdown highlighted inequalities which after lockdown cannot continue. Now we really know what it means to be in a front-line profession and so must others.

 There are other essential changes post lockdown.

  In the COVID 19 lockdown I was caught off guard when I was told that  schools would open ! Some before the end of the lockdown period "No, - it's e-learning" I was told with concern that some communities would suffer, that there would be problems in some communities... For sure ! 

After the Soweto uprising in 1976, The then Apartheid government in South Africa initiated an enquiry into Black Education, then a system called 'Bantu Education'. It was called the van Zyl Commission of Enquiry. I was on the Curriculum Investigative team. We came up with a report that included a model that we found in Isreal. Schools there were being used as, what were called Ambos. It was a model in which the school was a community resource, with the community, adults, its children and young people having access to the facility to be provided with empowerment in whatever the community experienced as a need at the time. The 21 large separate reports were submitted to the then government who then conveniently just shelved them. 

But the Ambo idea has always lived with me. After lockdown our Child and Youth Care Centres are needed to become a community Ambo. A community resource. In the e-learning and digital lockdown period we are now experiencing, the in-house young people must be 4th Industrial Revolution literate, and so must our communities. We are ideally situated to outreach as a community resource as do many non-government Organisations.

There was a fire in the urban shack dwelling  informal settlement one block away from the church. Many of the pre-schoolers attended our full day Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme. Three young adults died in that fire. It flattened everything on the tightly packed inner-city residentially sized site. 300 people ..homeless. Many children. In the morning we went to the ash filled site to see how we might help. Dwellers were hunting through the remains for anything that could be salvaged Some were rescuing wooden poles that could possibly be used to make shelters They needed identity documents, food, tents, tools, blankets, grief and trauma counselling, psychological support. 

The social workers at the scene directed me to the police and the Fire Department Disaster Team and within two hours things started to happen, Medical supplies, food, tents, helping hands. We took the children into the ECD and made sure that they received two meals a day through the church.

We learnt a lot from this disaster. Together with the other churches, denominations, and faiths in the area we            co-operatively established a food bank which stored also other essentials should there be another disaster of this type or any other type in the community. It was a matter of being prepared. We had become an Ambo of sorts, a resource for community needs. Again, our residential child Care Centres seem to be ideally situated to be open enough with all its resources, with all its professional capacity to be a beacon of care in their communities.

In my blog called "Lockdown in a Shack" I proposed that our present lockdown situation in poorer communities, under provisioned, under stimulated children and young people could have stimulation needs met by child and youth care workers in a system of mobile activity units. These could setup temporary 'Safe Parks' on arrival, distribute stimulation packs, provide empowerment to parents on things like child stimulation and more effective parenting assistance with virtual learning . So if the Centre can't cope with opening itself Ambo style, then the Centre can still be a hub from which Child and Youth Care can go to where the children and the community is. Especially in times of risk and need. 

For the coming of the 'after lockdown. we must be prepared.  to be more relevant, more creative,more co-operative, more essential.        

  

Sunday, 26 July 2020

AFTER LOCKDOWN...CHILD AND YOUTH CARE IN SOUTH AFRICA



In "normal times", well before COVID 19.

At a local provincial clinic in a township,a cleaner was thoroughly cleaning the wall of a passageway. Typical of most local clinics, the paint was worn thin, with some bare patches. There she was, bucket and brush, protective overall, face-mask and rubber gloves. My thoughts "Can she be infected from the walls in a clinic. Can I be infected from the walls of a clinic?" It looked like an overkill to me.

Now I think differently

The flashback and my thinking then got me scribbling notes on the question; What in Child and Youth Care Centres facilities and practice will change following the COVID19 lock-down? Everywhere, it is said that there will be a 'new normal" What will a new normal look like for Child and Youth Care practice? 

 At a very fundamental level, it seems as if facility cleaning, sanatising, hygiene, initial health checks and ongoing health monitoring will change after COVID 19. ..more like the clinic cleaning example.

Business is talking of changing, with new models or adapting existing models  to accomodate the impact of lock-down behaviours. Interesting is that business already define and describe its existing models as as outdated.

Does Child and Youth Care in South Africa have 'models"? If so, how do we describe them and are they too, now outdated? As in business, has bricks and mortar, our buildings, our current norms and standards,shaped what we do, rather than be shaped by the reality of our present times, our rapidly changing  post COVID future? Will norms and standards be changed? Will buildings be rethought or restructured? Will programmes be changed. My thought is, "Yes to all of the above". Then, as in the business sector, "adapt or die." 

There certainly is a professional Child and Youth Care methodology in residential practice, not that much different from the methodology in community- based Child and Youth Care practice. Will our methodology be changed after lock- down?    

Questions, questions, questions.

We have made changes to our practice... changes to what was at the time a set way of doing things. I remember Massud Hoghughi saying, "If you work in a good Child and Youth Care setting, then the only thing you can be certain of....is change. Hoghughi introduced into South Africa, the Problem Profile Approach (PPA) which became our approach (or is it a model)?  No prizes for guessing. It shortly changed...to the strength-based approach. We shifted from the pathological approach to the developmental approach. We experienced a shift from large,same gender, high number dormitory settings toward "small is beautiful", with a growth in group homes and villages. We changed for long term to short term care. Obviously, with each of these changes, our practice, even our buildings  changed.

 The question is now, What is the after lock-down, post COVID 19 need to shift our models and approaches, perhaps our buildings, again?

Shifts in business and education sectors have already spot-lighted changes which have to have an influence toward change in what we do...or don't do in child and youth care practice. A social media post said that we have been forced into the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR).

We have a national, daily updated register of COVID 19 infections by province and in some instances, by metropolitan with daily accessibility to health authorities. Shows that we can keep track at the touch of a button, of young people at risk, in the system, and their return into the system anywhere in the country. Repetitious assessments and the movement reduce or eliminated. I was impressed by one residential facility, which, in the province of Gauteng, had digitalised all file content and ongoing reports. It meant that  the child and youth care workers, issued with laptops, could network into the system, add reports and access immediate file information, track threads of in-house behaviour history and interventions. With our changed experience of what can be done, this in-house digitalised system is proven to have value provincially and nationally.

For child and youth care workers this is the cue that we have to become more computer literate.  

Digitalisation and the immediate onset of the virtual world has after COVID implications. It cannot and won't come to an abrupt end.  Doing homework, groupwork, meetings, the sharing of set programmes, learning, budgeting, shopping retail, purchasing of almost anything can never be the same. The other is that learners in South African schools are to be educated (trained) in coding and robotics very early in the schooling system. Imagine doing homework with children and young people post lockdown. Child and youth care workers have some learning to do, it seems to me. It's scary. Child and Youth Care training, education and Continuous Professional Development (CPD)  curriculum requirements will have to be rethought.

I visualise a huge need to increase e-based activities in Child and Youth Care facilities. Activity planning by child and youth care workers now has an added planning dimension. In some programmes, children and young people are separated from the public school system. They cannot  be allowed to be disadvantaged by being in a residential facility. 

We are all hoping that COVID 19 will and already has, brought about shifts in social thinking; that there is and shall be a societal paradigm shift, economic changes, a social transformation. What in South Africa, COVID has spotlighted is inequality, the widening and widened gap between the privilege and the poor. Evidenced now through first hand experience is that we are capable, yet in need for social justice, increased collaboration, co-operation, participation, democracy and accountability. The small world of Child and Youth Care facilities and programmes, must now change to mirror, in policy and in practice, in our values, what the world has shown it can and has to be.

After lockdown, I want to believe that Child and Youth Care models will follow the drive toward these world-wide movements. The focus will not be, so much on what I call "contemplating our navels" (our own survival),  but should be more outward looking as a programme and in what we co-empower children and young people to be. The most affected by societal injustice are women and children and the young people who land up in our programmes. The shift after lockdown has to demonstrably model examples as agents and advocates for social and restorative justice.  It has further and just as importantly, to primarily empower and co-support children and young people to themselves  be the voices, the activists for social justice. To speak and act out on the lessons of COVID 19 and the lockdown.

 Mahatma Gandhi said "Be the change you want to see in the world". Someone said and I can't remember who, "What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, we call a butterfly".  I like these quotes because they speak of looking both inward at our existing models and outward to a world in another form.

 They have experienced the caterpillar. Now, our after lockdown model must help shape experientially,the butterfly lives of young people and children. Our after lockdown model is to support young people to be empowered as agents of change themselves in the South Africa they want to see. 




Sunday, 19 July 2020

RECENT QUESTIONS...CHILD AND YOUTH CARE IN SOUTH AFRICA



Child and Youth Care chat groups (Facebook) are ideal platforms for tapping into the opinions of colleagues, get some answers, and raise discussion which, hopefully may bring about change in work .conditions for child and youth care workers.

These are some of the recently asked questions.

Some responses in this blog are not definitive answers, but conversation starters.

* Who is responsible for the registration of child and youth care workers with the South African Council for Social Service Professionals (SACSSP) - management or the individual child and youth care worker?
My response. Each have different responsibilities. Registration is an individual responsibility. Anyone practicing Child and Youth Care Work must register themselves with the SACSSP. Failure to do this can result in professional sanctions being imposed. Management , however, is in breach of the South African Social Services Act if they employ, or have in employ, unregistered child and youth care practitioners. Legal action can be taken. Some employers do make organisational provisions to ensure and assist child and youth care workers to maintain Council annual registration.

* How do we report unethical conduct?
My response. There is but one way to do this. A formal complaint must be lodged with the SACSSP. 
Go to htpps//www.sacssp.co.za/professional/conduct
Click "Complaints". Scroll down to "Complaints Form". Click to download the form. Submit the completed form to Council.

* What is the purpose of the Child Care Act 74 of 1983?
My response. " The primary objects of the Act are intended to give effect to children's constitutional rights to family and parental care, or, as a  last resort to alternative care when removed from the family environment ,To protect from maltreatment, neglect, abuse and degradation and to the promotion of the best interests of the child."
See: https//socialworkjournals.ac.za

* What's the difference between Level 4 and the Level 5 Child and Youth Care  Further Education and Training Certificate (FETC)?  
My response: The comment attached was "I see no difference". There is a difference. The Quality Council for Trade and Occupations (QCTO) consulted with a nation-wide group of stake-holders through representative Child and Youth Care Community Expert Practitioners (CYC CEP). The level of the curriculum was revised to upgrade it. Obviously , much if not all, Level 4 content was retained. It was upgraded to university entrance level.The main difference is in the learning level at which it is assessed. Level 4 FETC was assessed primarily/mainly at the lower and middle order of Bloom's Taxonomy. Level 5 mainly at the middle and higher levels of Bloom's Taxonomy. It means the assessment of the child and youth care worker's ability to Analyse, Evaluate and to Create, that is, for example, to take case studies and child and youth care scenarios and to analyse behaviours and underlying meaning, to assess through appraisal, to argue, detect, judge critique. Then, to design their own child and youth care practice suggestions ans solutions.

* For how many years must you work for a non-government organisation (NGO/NPO) before you get an increase (in salary)?
My response: As the organisational name implies, an NPO/NGO is not tied to government and so, not tied to government salary scales. They often argue that they will pay what they can afford because they rely on donations, funding and State grants. Child and youth care worker post 'cost to organisation' is not ( if ever) the funding formula applied to NGO's as it is in some instances for Social Workers., If donor or State funding is problematic in any one year, you may be told that an increase is unaffordable. It would be good for NGO's to follow the state salary scales, or at very least have a set of scales to which it is committed as far as possible. This would reduce the drift of child and youth care workers to state facilities when the opportunities arise.

* Which is the best Trade Union for child and youth care workers?
My response: I am not in a position to answer this question. Child and youth care worker's opinions differ on this. Some express a level of disappointment in the existing Trade Unions and say that child and youth care workers should have their own field specific Trade Union. Of interest is that the law permits anyone to register a Trade Union (T's and C's apply). and that Social Workers have registered a Trade Union of their own in South Africa.

* Am I supposed to cook, do the laundry, clean, and in some instances garden?
My response: The first response is "NO". Child and youth care workers are not domestic workers. It's our responsibility to develop young people from dependency, through co-dependency to independence, from not coping to coping. In this, our developmental practice is to do things with children only if the learning is needed, and not for them...certainly not for the organisation.  Domestic help is an essential support service to the child and youth care worker's professional practice. 

* Is there a dress code for child and youth care workers?
My response: First a comment on the use of a uniform for child and youth care workers which is seen by some to be an answer to the dress code debate.Way back in 1995, the team of 21, who undertook the Cabinet Enquiry into Places of Safety and of "Detention" were very clear on uniforms for child and youth care workers. They thought that it wasn't in the young people's best therapeutic interests for child and youth care workers to wear a uniform. The reason was that a uniform created distance between the young person and the child and youth care worker in the practice of therapeutic relationship building. So is there then a dress code? I know of no standard dress code...especially not in the NGO sector. The Professional Assault Response training (PART) course has what appears to be a responsible guideline. Teh first line, "dress appropriately for the occasion". What then is "appropriate" in the child and youth care worker's situational professional life-space practice?
My question is, "What are the young people learning? What message do we carry to the young people through our dress? PART says we should dress to convey the message that "no-one gets hurt here". Check all clothing and accessories to be sure that in any situation no-one will inflict any form of injury to another...child and youth care worker on a young person,  young person on child and youth care worker,  Watch out for sharp watch straps, belt buckles, earings that can be pulled to tear the ears, long hair that can bu knotted around a hand and yanked. Wear rubber sole shoes for easy movement and to guard against slipping. Then clothing? Again and again, "What message does our clothing choice convey to the young person?

 * Can we burn mphephu in the child and youth care Centre?
(mphephu is a herb valued by (African) traditional healers. It is burnt to smudge and to communicate with the ancestors, calm evil spirits and repel negative energy)
My response: I would certainly hope so!! 



Sunday, 12 July 2020

STAYING UP TO DATE...CHILD AND YOUTH CARE IN SOUTH AFRICA



The South African Council for Social Service Professions (SACSSP) recently put out the long awaited notice to service providers in the Child and Youth Care Education Training and Development (ETD) sector. They, who have developed training courses to expand the knowledge, skills, self and ethics of child and youth care workers as far back as 2019, can submit them to the Council. The courses will be considered retrospectively for Continuous Professional Development (CPD) points. and  assessed for accreditation to meet the requirements for continued child and youth care registration for the 2020 - 2021 year.

 My blog on CPD in South Africa can be seen. If you are using a mobile, scroll down to the very bottom of THIS blog. You will see a line of small print reading View in web version. Click. At the very top left of the web version is a search box. Search CPD. If you are using a laptop you should link straight with the web version You can then use the search box...CPD 

This rather lengthy introduction and background is preparation to for this week's blog talk which is inspired by a post on social media. It was a question, a concern and something of a challenge. 

The concern.:Child and youth care workers appear not to read enough and not to write.

I share this view. We have a lot available to us and a lot to tell in South Africa. Someone once said."If you want to hide something in South Africa, put it in print". Obviously an exaggerated generalisation. but if there is even a germ of truth in it, it's scary for the field of Child and Youth Care in South Africa.

The reason for kicking off with the CPD story was to highlight this... as at now, we cannot escape staying up to date and expanding the South African body of knowledge and good practice.. Not only in the euro-centric, North American world, but hopefully, especially in the relevance of practice in the African/south African context. . Our stories must be told and shared. Our stories must be written. Our practices must be made known, our issues researched and our praxis grown into our own theories. So here comes our/the need for writing and the development of South African materials.

Then the question: "How do we stay up to date? What resources  do we have to do this in South Africa?"

In response to the SACSSP notice, I have little doubt there will be an upsurge in child and youth care ETD Service Providers offering virtual,face to face and in-house courses for CPD points in Child and Youth Care.  Fortunately there is a quality safeguard in the requirements for SACSSP accreditation. Watch out for the advertisements. These are a resource. 

Coursework, as such, is not the only way to keep up to date in South Africa. So, here comes the reading part. We do have access to Child and Youth Care journals. Both digital and print. The National Association of Child and Youth Care Workers (NACCW) in South Africa provides it's members with  a printed quarterly journal. Child and Youth Care Work. These are posted through our Post Office Service. What's good is that membership to Professional Associations in itself is accredited for CPD points. Cost of membership is only ZAR50 per annum. 

CYC-Net publishes a digital monthly journal. CYC-Net is free to subscribers. It calls for and relies on donations to survive. The journal CYC-Net is decidedly a 'stay up to dater'. It has an international readership.There is also a CYC-Net app. Just google it.

Relational Child and Youth Care Practice (RCYCP) is a quarterly, available digitally. This is a subscription journal which captures an international readership.As it is peer reviewed It attracts quality Child and Youth Care writers. It can be considered as accredited reading for South African CPD points writers, as well should you publish in it. 

The South African Council for Social Service Professions publishes digitally, a weekly newsletter... a what's happened this week. It publishes a monthly newsletter and has published a substantial newsletter within a year or a quarter. It posts reports after every Board meeting and every Council meeting.

Facebook has a number of resources. Pages for Child and Youth Care groups. Chat, discussion talk, issues, direction to reading and publications. This is a list of the group sites I am presently using. It cannot possibly be exhaustive.
CYC International Community
Child and Youth Care Masikhuluma
Child and Youth Care Practitioners Safe Place
Child and Youth Care Work Resources
National Association Of Child and Youth Care Workers
NACCW WESTERN CAPE REGION
CYC-Net Discussion Group
DUT (CYCD) Graduates in Gauteng
FICE International
Isibindi- Creating The Circles of Care
National Isibindi Safepark
NACCW Youth Co-ordinators 
NACCW Western Cape
Restorative Justice & Practices News Share
NACCW Youth Forum Friends 

The challenge: Blatantly, "We don't engage out veterans".

Patently, implied, is the underlying criticism of Child and Youth Care in South Africa that it is led unchallenged by a core, and in-group of older (if not elderly) Practitioners who occupy key leadership positions in the so-called decision-making, policy-making, education and training forums. Oh, oh, I guess I have to count myself as one of these.If there is such a generation of leadership, then I can unarguably say that they share the concerns of that social media post.

 It is linked, as the post suggested to the first concern and it's related questions. Who is reading? Who is staying up to date? Who is writing? Who is speaking out with authority?  Who is leading locally, regionally, provincially? Who, in themselves, are a Child and Youth Care resource? Who is staying up to date? Who is making their Child and Youth Care presence known?
  


Sunday, 5 July 2020

EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED...CHILD AND YOUTH CARE IN SOUTH AFRICA



Be prepared. Be prepared for the adventures of the day. Adventures there are. Some less foreseeable than others. Fear not. Expect the unexpected

It was not the first  time that the "bee-man"had been called. For some reason bees seemed to be attracted to the Children's Home property. The bee-man specialised in removing swarms of bees.

Pule was allergic to bee-stings. We knew it. He knew it. He had to carry an anti-histamine tablet - everyday -  on instruction.

 That day, again, a swarm attached itself to a tree about 40 metres across from th main building. Pule and I stood, backs against the main building to watch as Bee-man, in his protective gear, smoked out the bees.

It was a twang, a jerk, a dash faster than I could ever have imagined. Pule set off with a full-scaled sprint to the tree. He pushed his hand and arm into the swarm...death by bee-sting loomed large. Can't count how many bee-stings he sustained. No tablet...no tablets. "Don't know, ...lost".

 So came the rush to the Emergency Room at the hospital.

His explanation - "I wanted the honey." My thinking, "attempted suicide by bee-sting.

Pule was immediately taken into the Emergency Room, leaving me sitting in the waiting room. Within about 10 minutes a  staff member came in with Sakhiso another of the facility's boys. He had cut his hand on a broken glass tumbler. It needed stitches. "Can you stay and bring him back with Pule when you are finished?"  
"Sure."
There we sat.
An ambulance pulled up and a man off loaded into a wheelchair. He insisted that he shake hands with each sitting, waiting person. "Goodbye. Goodbye. Good luck" to each of us. He was then wheeled straight into the Emergency Room.

We were eventually called. I said I'd be with Sakhiso when he had stitches. It was allowed.
There sat Pule more or less recovered and at the back a stretcher with the covered corpse of the 'goodbye guy'. A label attached to his big toe. "He didn't make it" said the doctor and left the room to go fetch something.

Immediately, Pule and Sakhiso were on their feet and at the covered body of the dead 'good-bye guy'. The label was read. His name said out loud. Still holding the label, "He had a heart attack" Then, "Look at his feet. Look how white they are!"

It arose when the child and youth care workers first sat and ate at the tables with the young people. A large group of young people refused to eat as a form of protest. The protest was that the government gave money to the facility to provide for each child ( per-capita funding).The child and youth care workers they said, were stealing their food. The staff must pay for their own meals.

It was all very carefully planned and she agreed. When she gave birth, the baby was to be made available for adoption. Papers were signed. Having given birth and three days later, she went back to visit at the hospital.         .
It was a telephone call. Baby crying in the background. 'I've taken the baby. I'm at my boyfriends place. I'm keeping the baby. What must I do now? What do I need?"

What did I say? Expect the unexpected.

Knock at the big wooden Victorian front door. I open it. There stood a woman with a a baby in her arms. "There", she said, pushing the baby into my arms. "Take it, It's yours", and walked away.

Hmm, today's adventure   

It frequently starts with a telephone call.
"Is that St Goodenough?. Do you have a "Irene" there. Please come and collect her at the Johannesburg International Airport. She is with our security. She somehow managed to get onto the tarmac.We found her sitting in the engine housing of an Air Canada Jet plane.
 The next unexpected. Irene's explanation. She had to get to Canada. She had to warn Celine Dion. She had overheard  satanists saying that they had put out a reward to anyone who killed her.

Expect the unexpected 


Sunday, 28 June 2020

STARTING FROM SCRATCH...CHILD AND YOUTH CARE IN SOUTH AFRICA



The post read, "To build something from nothing is exhausting".

It's "starting from scratch." Frequently also, are direct questions . "I want to start my own project. What must I do?' This is not a 'Do it yourself manual". Its my experience of setting up child and youth care programme in South Africa.

 I  have started up three projects from scratch. One faith-based. One had nothing but an enthusiastic group of ladies who wanted to do good. The third had some sort of "Head-start". The last two had some sort of committee and a so-called "Founder".

The head-start one was in a semi-rural village about 27 kilometres from the nearest town. In 2007 an approach was made by someone in my church. "Come see. Maybe you can start something. There is a building . It was built by  the government as a Hospice with dormitories, but never used. African people care for their own." 

The drive through the village was the first of a series of new experiences for me. It was a long and narrow, East to West  The streets were loaded with children of all ages... just hanging around . And it was in school term!!

The building was the next surprise and not easily accessible for community and especially not for children - a loooong walk. The building however was gem. Government had spent ZAR 4.5 m on it. In 2007, that was a lot of South African Rands. It was fenced, a so-called Community Hall and dormitories stood empty.

 First thought. "This is a Residential Children's Home". There was a Home-based Care Worker (HBCW) Project with a learner staff of 15 HBCWs The hall was used as their training venue and they reported to the "Founder".

A mornings were spent looking and talking. Then the threads came together. The need was for a Child and Youth Care service, but using the same model as the HBCWs. "Go to  them...they can't come to you." A community-based model of Child and Youth Care  existed in the best practice model of the National Association of Child and Youth Care Workers (NACCW) called "Isibindi", The building would be a training and gathering venue for case-studies and all that goes with the methodology of child and youth care work. including administration.

 From the concept, comes the .. "from Scratch "work. But it has to start with just that. A very clear written concept...the concept document. There was a set of requirements to be followed from the "I have an idea, an intention to start a project moment" to "up and running". .. Here's the exhausting part. It is laborious
* Existing Founder and Board to agree in writing.
* If there is no existing structure it is good to have a "Steering Committee" drawn from the community to be served.
* Notice of intent together with the concept document to the District Office of the Department of Social Development. The local office to give the intention a nod and to be kept informed and involved throughout.
* A community profile and a needs survey to give evidence that the proposed service, in it's concept, will indeed serve the real and tangible needs of the community. Statistics statistics statistics.
* Application to the holding body of any model that is to be used.In this case the NACCW. Otherwise written evidence that networks and partnerships with best practice models are possible.
*A business plan. This shows staffing structure,  administration systems the estimated cost and the plan to have these costs in some way covered. Can be a possible grant from the State.
* in the case of this being an independent non-profit organisation, a constitution which is compliant with the NPO Act 
* A funding proposal ... A request justifying funding. In this instance the request went to  the NACCW which was working in partnership with US AID.
* Request to the Provincial Department of Social Development to launch. They have to recognise the project and approve it.
* Receipt of the final agreement to go ahead from the Provincial Offices of the Department of Social Development. In this instance they said that it would be regarded as a "Pilot project"

The procedure was not a straight line and didn't go at all easily. It took OVER TWO YEARS!! Even then there was more to do. A tripartite contract had to be signed. The founding NPO, the NACCW who employed the staff and the funder.

In 2010 the learner staff were employed and given fixed term contracts. 15 on contract and 15 additional unpaid volunteers. 

A two year training programme was launched. I was the trainer and the "co-ordinator of the Isibindi project. The agreement was that I would after 2 years,"hand over" the project to the community, being the founding NPO and its' Board. Which happened. We were reaching about 500 children a year and providing professional services.
 Today, already qualified staff, registered with the South African Council for Social Service Professions (SACSSP) would have to be employed.

Now we must talk of the growth and development programmes. Model social service programmes in the community can seldom remain static. As you go along other needs are discovered. It could be a service of provision...feeding, clothing ,blankets in Winter. You see?  It never stops. Exhaustive and exhausting. The Isibindi Project had what were called "Add-ons". These then, expanded the community-based concept to make for more holistc care. The first is the Safe-Park. The idea was that children would come after school, weekends and in the holidays to a safe place where there was informal and formal play and activities. Considering  the long East to West lay- out of the village it became apparent that to be accessible there was a need for one at each end of the village. Not one...But TWO!!
 Process starts again . This time with the addition of having to get Tribal land. Application with supportive documentation, needs surveys and profiles needed..again!

Tribal chief,  NACCW and US AID agreed. Ole, Halala. The Safe Park and other related add- ons required contracted learners be especially trained as add-on specialities. Such as Toy Library, Disability, Girl child protection, Adolescent Development Programmes and eventually Early Childhood Development. 

Back to that Facebook post. To build something from nothing is exhausting". You have to deal with all kinds of politics (with a small "p).  In this project, ..a list:
*Rivalry and tensions between the Home Base Care Workers  and the child and youth care workers. ( commonly found).
*Founders and Board needing to assert authority over a field they were not familiar with.
*Tribal authority interest for accolades.
* Government feet-dragging, delays and bureaucratic controls.

But there we go. "to build something from nothing is exhausting.

But worth it.