Despite South Africa’s progressive child protection legislation, the child protection system in practice remains reactive, removal-oriented, and heavily reliant on institutional care as the primary option. This approach has long-term detrimental effects on children who grow up in institutions. One Child One Family-Hope and Homes for Children South Africa (OCOF HHCSA) believes that it is time to transition from institutionalisation to a child-focused, family-centered, and community-based intervention.
According to the results of an action research ‘snapshot’ assessment conducted by OCOF HHCSA between August 2015 and March 2016, more than 80% of the 3,104 assessed children living in institutional care are not orphaned but placed there due to family breakdown, abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Shockingly, these children often remain in such institutions for periods ranging from two to ten years.
Children in institutional care face numerous challenges, including an increased risk of sexual and physical abuse, a lack of stimulation, and harsh discipline. Prolonged stays in institutions hinder their ability to reintegrate into families and communities, depriving them of lifelong attachments and vital support systems that family relationships and communities can provide. It is widely recognised that institutions should be the last resort in child protection.
OCOF HHCSA is urging the national government and NGOs to prioritise care reform in South Africa by adopting a systemic change process that leads to a deinstitutionalised, proactive, child-in-family-in-community-focused child protection system. It is our collective responsibility to nurture, strengthen, and support families, fostering resilience and capacity while providing clear and supported developmental pathways.
Become a #CareReformChampion and join us in taking a pledge to eradicate the institutionalisation of children and build resilience in children and families through child-focused, family-centered, and community-based interventions in South Africa.
About OCOF HHCSA: One Child One Family-Hope and Homes for Children South Africa (OCOF HHCSA) is a nonprofit organisation dedicated to transforming the lives of children in South Africa by advocating for and implementing family-based care solutions. OCOF HHCSA works collaboratively with government bodies, NGOs, and communities to create sustainable changes in the child protection system, ensuring that every child grows up in a loving and nurturing family environment.
For media inquiries, please contact: Busisiwe Mphapang, One Child One Family- Hope and Homes for Children South Africa, 079 180 0445, firstname.lastname@example.org