The NACCW has been engaged in SAQA accredited training for over five years now.
Who can believe that the first decade of the new millennium is nearly over? A tumultuous decade it has been for South African child and youth care – maybe that is why it flew by so quickly. And here we are in the fourth term of the democratic government, experiencing this year the impact of a change in administration in the country. The latter half of 2009 saw an openness on the part of government to engagement with civil society not experienced in previous years. This meant that the NACCW was able to secure a meeting with the Minister of Social Development in September of this year – for the first time in the decade. This meeting saw Ms Edna Molewa taking seriously the concerns of our sector, and particularly our collective concerns about the regulation of child and youth care work and the closure of the Professional Board for Child and Youth Care.
The year also saw the Deputy Minister of Social Development, Ms Bathabile Dlamini listening to the sector at the hugely successful 17th Biennial Conference of the NACCW, held in the Free State for the first time ever.
But it has not only been at ministerial level that government has appeared interested in engaging with our sector. This year we were invited by the Department of Social Development to comment on a number of policy issues. This bodes well for the future of our democracy, for when government and civil society see one another as partners, not as enemies, the potential for a strong, accountable democracy is strengthened. The next decade will show whether this approach will take hold, but for now the different approach of government has resulted in members of the SACSSP and professional boards being invited to a meeting to discuss the continued operations of the Council and professional boards – a very important step forward in the struggle for the recognition of child and youth care work which has been a major theme throughout every year of the decade.
The struggle for the recognition of child and youth care work as a profession has many fronts. As Durban University of Technology continues to allow a small number of child and youth care workers to graduate with degrees, and those students currently registered at UNISA slowly graduate, our number of child and youth care workers qualified and working at a professional level gradually increases. But the Occupational Specific Dispensation still fails to recognize this level of qualification in the field, continuing to disadvantage government-employed child and youth care workers at this level in terms of salary and benefits. So 2010 will have to see continued advocacy from our sector – in relation to opportunities for tertiary study in child and youth care work; for the fair recognition of workers; and for an appropriate regulatory structure for child and youth care workers. The Social Services Professions and Occupations Bill is due to be heard in parliament next year, and it is critical that the sector is very articulate, very coherent and very cohesive in its submission on this legislation which aims to consider social work a profession and child and youth care work an occupation.
It can be anticipated that next year will see the full implementation of the Children’s Act – and all the policies that have been debated in this past year, including the norms and standards and the national monitoring and evaluation system. Child and youth care workers are recognized as important contributors to the implementation of the Act, and are acknowledged as such in the DVD designed to provide an overview on the Act. watch the DVD at the first opportunity you have, and think about the colleagues around the country who spoke up for child and youth care work during the many consultative meetings and parliamentary hearings that were held on the Children’s Bill during this long decade of its gestation.
But 2010 is a big year for child and youth care work in South Africa. We expect to kick off the next decade in style by hosting the biggest international child and youth care event ever held on African soil – including people from all six continents, and the world’s most illustrious child and youth care names. Exciting on this score is the interest shown in this event by fellow African countries interested, like our Zambian colleagues, to move child and youth care work further into the African continent. Like the World Cup – this should be an event of a lifetime! And on the matter of the World Cup, next year will see child and youth care workers in full gear during the extended school holidays, working to protect and engage children in healthy activities and keep them out of harms way.
Looking into the next decade, we have much to look forward to, and much to work towards. Looking back, it seems to me that beyond all of the developments, the past decade has revealed an important truism for us to take forward into the future. We have learned in the past ten years that the growth and development of the child and youth care field requires ongoing championing by a body such our professional association. It has been through collective effort that the achievements of the decade have come about. The decade has seen consistent growth in the stability and capacity of the many leaders in the South African child and youth care field – and it is our orchestrated efforts that have entrenched our profession. We who are interested in ensuring that children have direct workers who are trained and able to care for them should take heed of this lesson. Our continued growth depends on our continued solidarity. As we begin the next decade we must seek to strengthen our connections with each other; and we must preserve this professional association that links us to one another. Just as we seek to preserve this blue planet, we must seek to care for this association – for it is the only one we have, and our continued evolution depends on it!
"No one is born a good citizen; no nation is born a democracy. Rather, both are processes that continue to evolve over a lifetime. Young people must be included from birth. A society that cuts off from its youth severs its lifeline." - Kofi Annan
A guide to Povincial Non-Profit Organisations and Government Resources for Vulnerable Children. DOWNLOAD GUIDES HERE...
By joining the Association, social service professionals can interact with a network of colleagues and access continued professional development opportunities in regular regional meetings to advocate on behalf of vulnerable children. READ MORE...
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