The Western Cape Social Development MEC, Sharna Fernandez on Wednesday engaged with experts in the field of prevention and early intervention services from around the province, in order to develop sustainable solutions to protect children. Photo: Supplied

CAPE TOWN - Western Cape Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez on Wednesday engaged with experts in the field of prevention and early intervention services in order to develop sustainable solutions to protect children.

According to the department, the need to address child protection at a systemic level, with a strong focus on the family, has been identified as a key priority area.

In a statement, Fernandez said that the well-being of the family is critical for the overall functioning of society and that any breakdown in a family's functioning and its ability to provide care, increases the vulnerability of its members.

“In order to safeguard the future of this country, we must focus on integrated prevention and early intervention programmes for our children that include both the boy and the girl child. Our government remains committed to investing in prevention and early intervention programmes. By making people more socially mobile, we are able to increase productivity, with the knock-on effect of reducing reliance on social welfare,” she said.

“In South Africa, child protection policy is inclusive and provides a legislative framework for promoting the well-being of families with children, especially the poor and vulnerable children in need of care and protection. However, we need to ensure that resource allocation, programme landscape and practice in child protection, shift from predominantly reactive approaches to preventive approaches,” added Fernandez.

She said “the department, and the social sector as a whole, remains fully cognisant of the need to adopt new approaches to designing child protection services in the radically changing environment that we now operate in”.

About R753.835 million of the total 2019/20 social development budget is allocated to children and families programmes. This budget allocation is largely dedicated to child protection services, child and youth care centres, families and early childhood development services.

“The main aim of the children and families programme is to help build families that function well and communities that care for, protect and develop children appropriately,” Fernandez added.

African News Agency (ANA)