|Child & Youth Care workers (l -r) : Chane Williams, Louis Otto, Lucas Motshotsho, Ronita Fisher, Urshula Pienaar|
South Africa's children and youth are of the most vulnerable sectors of our population. It is a fact recognised by Government and one of the reasons the authorities have partnered with NGOs to establish programmes specially designed to assist this group.
Carryou Ministry's Child and Youth Care programme, established in August last year, is part of this initiative.
In Toekomsrus, Randfontein, there are currently five Child and Youth Care Workers operating in the immediate area.
"Their role is to go out into the field and provide support to young people in five areas -- physical, spiritual, cognitive, emotional and social," says Carryou Ministry General Manager, Rev. Lawrence Mabaso.
"It is a hands-on approach."
Each Child and Youth Care Worker (CYCW) is expected to work with around 36 families per annum, in addition to emergency cases that may arise.
"It's hard work but enormously rewarding," says CYCW, Louise Otto.
Kids who need assistance are often identified at Carryou's 'Safe Park', a facility established to give youngsters a safe place to visit.
"We sometimes identify children in need, by watching the way they engage or do not engage with others," says CYCW, Ronita Fisher. "Or we may see there is a problem from the way they use colour in their drawings or how they play with the dolls."
Sometimes schools refer children to them.
"Once we have identified a problem, the first step is to engage with the parents of the child. Our goal is to work with and preserve families," says CYCW, Chane Williams, "and, where necessary, we work closely with the schools, social workers, churches and sometimes the police."
Whilst the programme deals with a number of social issues, including abuse, the most common case the Child and Youth Care Workers deal with, is kids who have learning difficulties and problems at school.
"When we encounter a youngster with those issues we immediately sit down with the family and together devise a plan," says CYCW, Lucas Motshotsho. "A support programme is drawn up and we will spend time teaching and tutoring the child every day. Where needed, an outside tutor will be brought in."
Urshula Pienaar is the programme's disability facilitator.
"Quite often you will find a disabled child within a family who is isolated and my role is to assist in helping the family engage and integrate the youngster into a more normal situation," she says.
"I also help find practical solutions to everyday, physical-care problems they may face."