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Tuesday, 26 March, 2002
Care for youth at risk enters new era
Statement by André Gaum, Western Cape Minister of Education.
The care and education of youth at risk entered a new era in the Western Cape today (Tuesday, 26 March, 2002), with the official opening of the new Faure Youth Centre.
The Western Cape Education Department’s new youth care and education centre can provide residential accommodation for 60 boys and 60 girls who are experiencing emotional or behavioural difficulties.
The centre can also provide residential accommodation for 25 girls with severe emotional or behavioural difficulties in a special youth care unit.
The centre forms part of a new dispensation for youth at risk in the province.
The long process of transforming the Child and Youth Care System in South Africa began in 1995 with an investigation by an Inter-ministerial Committee on Young People at Risk.
The committee told the national Cabinet that the system of services to children and young people at risk was not effective. Their report was entitled, ‘In whose best interest? Report on Places of Safety, Schools of Industries and Reform Schools’.
The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) recognised the need to transform the education sector catering for youth at risk, and embarked on a comprehensive process to establish an effective service for educating and reclaiming young people at risk.
The department did so in collaboration with the Inter-ministerial Committee on Young People at Risk and the National Department of Social Development.
The WCED has developed an education model that offers five levels of support for learners at risk and those in conflict with the law.
The first three levels of support, namely, prevention, early intervention and school-based support programmes, will be offered in ordinary schools and will focus on prevention and early intervention.
Youth Care and Education Centres will offer the fourth level of support, providing residential care where necessary, with varying degrees of restriction, depending on the learners involved. Other learners will follow therapeutic and educational programmes at the centres after school hours. On the fifth level of support, Special Youth Care and Education Centres will provide compulsory residence for young people in severe emotional turmoil or in conflict with the law.
The WCED has established four Youth Care and Education Centres and two Special Youth Care and Education Centres.
The Faure Youth Care Centre is the first to be opened officially in the greater Cape Town area, and offers support on level four.
Multi-disciplinary teams at these centres and specialists based at the WCED’s seven new Education Management and Development Centres (EMDCs) will support ordinary schools with the assessment of learners at risk and intervention programmes.
Specialised staff at youth centres and the EMDCs include registered psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, learning support specialists and educators trained in dealing with troubled young people.
The focus is on reclaiming children and young people at risk by providing specialised support and therapeutic interventions on a continuum of care, ranging from the least restrictive and most empowering environment or programme to more restrictive options.
Ordinary schools in the WCED’s East Metropole District will use the new Faure Youth Care Centre as a resource. The centre will provide assessment services as well as residential care, developmental and therapeutic programmes, and support programmes after-school hours.
The WCED is currently building capacity in the East Metropole EMDC structures and the centre itself to ensure effective and efficient services to children and young people at risk and their families, as well as teachers in regular schools.
Our new approach to assisting troubled young people reflects a shift from negative strategies based on retribution and punishment to positive strategies aimed at reclaiming the child.
This new approach creates opportunities for healing, development and growth, with the focus on restoring relationships rather than focusing on punishment.
Educationists agree that we now have sound scientific information to support strategies for positive outcomes. We have discovered that children need to be reared in environments where there are opportunities to develop and experience belonging, mastery, independence and generosity.
Our new Youth Care and Education Centres will go a long way towards providing the environments and support needed to give many more troubled young people a fresh start in life and the opportunity of breaking through to a better future.
Enquiries: André Gaum 082-772-6608Issued by:
The Communications Directorate
Western Cape Education Department
Private Bag X9114
Cape Town 8000
Tel: (021) 467-2531
Fax: (021) 467-2363
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