Centre for Child Law said it had reached a settlement with the different government departments that was made an order of court affirming the rights of children. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency/ANA

Johannesburg - South Africa's Centre for Child Law said on Friday it had reached a settlement with the departments of Social Development, Education and Health that was made an order of court affirming the constitutional rights of children.

It said the case began two years ago and was focused on the plight of a 10-year-old girl who was orphaned and placed in foster care shortly after birth. The placement broked down, leading to 15 different placements in her 10 years of life. 

"The effect this had on her attachment to caregivers was profound, and resulted in her developing a disruptive behaviour disorder," the centre said.

"The organisation caring for her had asked the state to place her in a suitable care centre, but this request fell on deaf ears."

The Centre for Child Law said it had brought an urgent application to have the child placed and indicated at the time that it planned to bring ‘Part B’ of the case to fix the system as a whole.

"The settlement reached on 2 August 2018 is an important step in finding lasting solutions to the plight of these children," it said.

The departments of Social Development, Education and Health had acknowledged that their present policies, programmes and plans did not comply with obligations imposed on them by the Constitution and legislation to provide appropriate assistance and care to children with severe or profound disruptive behaviour disorders, it said.

The settlement agreement, requires the departments to develop an inter-sectoral policy, and implementation plan, that removes barriers that hinder children with behavioural difficulties’ full and effective participation in society.

The policy and plan must also explain how residential care facilities, with appropriate programmes, will be spread out, to ensure that children have access to services they need and that these services address their particular needs if they are in need of care and protection.

The policy and plan must also set out how basic education and appropriate health care services will be provided to the children as well as how support for families and respite care will be provided so that children are not unnecessarily removed from their family environment.

The order also sets out interim arrangements that are to be in place while the policy and plan are being developed, with the departments required to ensure that children with behavioural difficulties brought to their attention must be provided with suitable alternative care if necessary, have access to quality education and receive appropriate health care services while their families should be provided with necessary support.

African News Agency (ANA)