Monday, December 15, 2008

Social Services Let me down

This is an incident which happened in the beginning of October:
It involves 2 young children who are living on the streets with their parents.
When I first met them the father was walking around Observatory sending his 7 year old son to beg door to door. We got involved in a discussion about the well being of the child and he admitted to not being in a position to care for the child. He ended up leaving the child with me. The boy waited with me inside the hall while I attended to some necessary
matters. He then returned with the child's mother and a 5 year old girl and asked me if I could take the girl as well. As I am in no position to look after 2 small children I called up the emergency social work services to try and get them placed in a suitable place.
Rene (the social worker) suggested that we meet at Mowbray Police station, which we all did. I was not at all happy with the way she dealt with the situation. It seems she is unable to be polite or speak to people in a respectful way and after a lengthy discussion with the parents, who were very willing to give the children away she refused to place them. She warned the parents that if they do it again the children will be removed, the father responded that we could take them there and then, Rene said that she would not allow them to abdicate responsibility and wouldn't take them. I understand that the children were not in immediate danger but I dont see the reason for delaying an intervention into their lives. Rene's reasoning was that the children have been living outside all their lives and therefore they should be fine to continue doing it, she also told me that there are many children living in adverse circumstances and she can't just help them all (or something to that effect). In the end I had to take the entire family to the place where they sleep under a bridge in Salt River. The disappointment on the children's faces was evident and they did not want to go with their parents. It broke my heart to insist that they could not come with me.
I then discovered that ACVV (contracted to provide social work services on behalf of the dept) are fully aware of these children and have been taking them to creche a few times a week. I am not satisfied that this is all that the department is prepared to do for them. Some people think that the best place for a child is with thier parents, I don't, and neither do these kids. They are in their current situation because of bad choices made by their parents. At their young age they are already aware that their opportunities are limited and are desperate for help but if the Dept of Social Services is unwilling to... where else can they turn?


faizel petersen said...

yoh thats hectic. I don't think the department of social services should run an advert on tv to support the 16 days of activism or to talk about child abuse and helping the nation, if they can't do something as basic as placing a child at risk in a home or start a process to find foster care. This country should really be ashamed!!

Jo said...

i totally agree with Faizel. They advertising under false pretense then and this woman should actually be reported, how can you not have people skills when you job entails working with people?! its really sad how people are towards people! Children should be their first priority!