The centre, the Systematic Treatment of Adolescents with Challenging Behaviour in Residential Setting (Stars), situated in Hout Bay, offered therapy for teenagers considered “problematic” in their communities.
Established with the help of the provincial Department of Social Development in 2015, Stars is the only project to offer therapy to troublesome teens. James House was founded 32 years ago.
James House is the only NPO that has a residential treatment centre to help children avoid going into the welfare system. The project, called Stars, officially closes tomorrow due to a lack of funding. @WesternCapeGov says Stars did not offer value-for-money. @IOL @WeekendArgus pic.twitter.com/qixJ0SGpvM
Alene Smith, partnerships and programmes manager at James House, said the youth centre had managed to raise only R1million of the R5m needed to continue operating.
“Our core function is to work with adolescent children who display severe externalised behaviour,” she said.
Unless a miracle happens overnight, the centre will close down officially tomorrow. The programme has not accepted any child since February, when it was supposed to start this year’s programme. Smith said Stars was meant to host 16 children, on the verge of going into the system, for four months.
There were many success stories produced by the Stars project, Smith said, but the department did not allow the programme to put the teens in touch with the media.
“The programme was fully funded by the Department of Social Development and since funding has dried up, we can’t take children anymore. As a result, the kids who were supposed to come in February could not come,” Noel Milner, fundraising co-ordinator, said.
He said the project had had a positive impact in the communities across the province.
A group of 16 boys and girls came went through the project every four months.
According to a qualitative impact study done by social workers in 2015 and 2016, 10 out of 13 parents rated their teen who went through the programme as having benefited “more than expected”. Two parents rated the behaviour of their teens “as expected”, while only one was not impressed.
Sihle Ngobese, spokesperson for Social Development MEC Albert Fritz, said: “While it is the only NPO-run child and youth care centre that presents a behaviour management programme, there are two government child and youth care centres that facilitate short-term behaviour programmes, and five government centres which facilitate long-term behaviour programmes.”
He said these would be adequate and would meet the need for the service. “And we’re exploring ways to augment these programmes to other state- and NPO-run facilities,” Ngobese added.
He said the department had decided to discontinue funding due to “the high costs and issues around value-for-money and effectiveness of programmes”.