The need for a strong, coordinated, measurable Prevention and Early Intervention model which is community-based, is evident and made even more urgent by the impact of worsening economic conditions and the COVID 19 pandemic.
The results of our joint work, together with the Gauteng Department of Social Development, in systemic gap analysis of the child protection system and service design, which took place between August 2015 and July 2019, we have developed the ‘KHUSELA’ Community-based Prevention model. ‘AFS-KHUSELA’ is premised on the principle of keeping children within strong families through the utilization of:
- Early Identification and Intervention by means of a multi-disciplinary ‘Community Emergency Activation Task Team’.
- Emergency foster-care / Temporary Safety Parents for the temporary care of children in need of care and protection while the underlying problems within the family of origin are resolved, thus enabling the child and family to be reunified.
- Appropriate standardised assessment of the entire eco-system of the child and family which leads to focused, targeted and measurable interventions and linkage to services and support to resolve problems.
- Reassessment to measure impact of interventions which allows for course-correction in a timeous manner.
- Not removing the child from his or her community and keeping the family bonds strong while interventions are done.
It is important in this process to remember that emergency foster-care + family preservation services + reunification services must be seen as ‘one’ process. The approach from the social work professional must always be to achieve family reunification, insofar as it is in the best interest of the child.
Even in the case where all interventions have failed and reunification with the family of origin is not possible; emergency foster-care within its statutory 90-day period, offers the opportunity and time to track-and-trace extended family, complete the necessary assessments and conduct reunification processes. The positive impact of keeping the child within an emergency foster-care family within the community of origin while this process is on-going, cannot be over-emphasized.