Safety parents needed

2019-06-18 06:01

As Child Protection Week comes to an end, provincial social development minister Sharna Fernandez is calling on residents to become safety parents.

In doing so, residents will become more involved in ensuring children’s safety 365 days a year. A safety parent acts as a temporary safe care placement for a child who is reported to be in need of emergency protection.

After careful assessment, the child can be safely accommodated, pending a decision or court order concerning the placement of the child.

While the department recognises the family – which includes extended family – as the best place for a child to flourish and develop, there are instances where the child’s best interests is the immediate removal from their homes.

In these cases, children may be placed with non-related safety parents.

There are currently 446 registered safety parents in the province and the department urgently needs to grow its database to ensure that they expand the safety net for vulnerable children. “The protection of children needs the whole of society to become involved in any way that they can. This is one way those who are eligible, can help vulnerable children,” says Fernandez.

Compulsory screening

Applicants are carefully screened to determine if they are suitable to care for children. Once approved, the safety parents will receive training about the Children’s Act, as well as how to care for vulnerable children who may have experienced trauma.

Due to the nature of the emergency placements, prospective safety parents should be available at short notice.

Those interested in signing up can contact their nearest department of social development (DSD) local office for more information about the process, requirements, and forms needed, or by contacting the DSD hotline 0800 220 250.

Applicants will need to undergo an evaluation process that will include:

. clearance on the criminal offences database for all the individuals residing on the premises of the applicant(s);

. consultation with a social worker;

. attendance of a training course to qualify as a safety parent.

Fernandez says under her leadership the department of social development will continue to join forces with civil society, non-profit organisations (NPOs) and various communities to ensure the safety and well-being of children.

She thanked all those citizens, including registered safety parents and other volunteers, for their work and commitment in keeping children safe.

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