Each of the past 17 even-numbered years has presented the
NACCW national executive committee with a creative challenge
– to come up with a theme for the coming year’s NACCW
Biennial Conference! An exciting exercise, conference themebuilding
processes try to catch something of the spirit of the
So looking back at conference themes gives a sense of the history of the child and youth care fi eld in South Africa. We acknowledged entry into our fourth decade as a professional association four years back with We Celebrate 30 years – Professional Practice in the Lifespace of Children. The zeitgeist was very obviously captured in the 1996 theme of Child and Youth Care – Reconstruction and Development for Peace, and the Association acknowledged the value of our African connections, and the important role of child and youth care work in responding to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the 1993 Johannesburg conference theme of Children and Youth At Risk – Perspectives and Practice in Africa. If we look back to the 80’s we fi nd a practice focus in the catchy Competent Care – Competent Kids. And way back in the 70’s (when many of today’s child and youth care workers were not yet born!) the Association stressed the notion of the belonging for children in residential care, with the theme The Community’s Children in Care.
And so to the present…Complementary Social Service Professions Integrating to Serve Children and Families! The spirit of our times! In adopting this theme the Association stresses the commitment of the child and youth care work to cooperative endeavour with others – in the interests of positive service delivery. The concepts encapsulated in this theme are important. “To serve” is the action in the theme, stressing that our reason for existence is to work towards the betterment of others – children and families. Our reason for existence is to offer service. “Social service professions” re-iterates our commitment to the profession of child and youth care work – as distinct from other social service professions. “Complementary” recognizes the respect and delight we have for one another’s capacities, and the value of the different roles we play in serving children and families. “Integrating” is another verb, highlighting the seamlessness of our combined efforts.
At this time when the Children’s Act is being initiated, and the Social Service Profession’s Act is being reviewed, the Association has created a forum for social workers, youth workers, community development workers and others to come together to showcase orchestrated social service work; to debate issues of common interest; and to consider improvements to our future joint endeavours. I am reminded in this theme of the words of Bill Moyers… “we are all “institutionalized” in one form or another, locked away in our separate realities, our parochial loyalties, our fi xed ways of seeing ourselves and others. For democracy to prosper it requires us to escape those bonds and join what John Dewey called ‘a life of free and enriching communion’.
We look forward to breaking out of old perceptions into a ‘free and rich’ communion in a chilly Bloemfontein in July of 2009. Full conference details to follow in the next publication.
"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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