Thursday, May 29, 2008

New Child Protection Act close

By Ilhaam Hoosain
29 May 2008


Under the new Children's Act, Foreign children are entitled to full protection, which after a decade in the making is due to be implemented in early 2009.

Minister Zola Skweyiya speaking at the opening of a three-day conference on the Children's Act, explained that the Children's Act defines a child as a person under the age of 18 years, and that it does not add any additional requirements such as SA citizenship or that the child had to be born in SA.

Skweyiya admitted that, over the past decade "the conditions facing the children of South Africa have deteriorated, sometimes with added complications".

He added that the hope that the Children's Act "will be properly implemented and we will achieve its intent of protecting the rights of our children. The protection of children's rights lead to an improvement in the lives of other sections of the community and it is neither desirable nor possible to protect children's rights in isolation from their families and communities."

The new Act instructs:
· principles relating to the care and protection of children
· defines parental responsibilities and rights
· provides for services to promote the preservation and strengthening of families
· And consolidates the laws relating to protection of children.

The Children's Institute’s Paula Proudlock said that three of the major challenges to the implementation of the Act relate to lack of budget and capacity to spend at a provincial level, a shortage of human resources and under funding of the many NPOs who deliver more than 60% of the services mandated under the Act.

Nokuku Sipuka from Umtata Children's Resources Centre added that government funding for child abuse prevention programmes needs to change from funding for social worker salaries only to full cost programme funding.

She says that with the scarcity of social workers in the country it is difficult to recruit and retain social workers especially in rural areas. Full cost prevention programme funding would enable NPOs to use other categories of workers and to expand their services to reach more vulnerable children.

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