Isolabantwana (Eye on the Child) is a community-based programme that provides short-term emergency safe houses for abused, neglected and exploited children.
This programme, operational since 2003, was initiated in response to the increased incidences of child abuse reflected in CWSA statistics. Its success is based on the participation of community volunteers.
Isolabantwana was designed by Cape Town Child Welfare, shared with the child welfare movement, and is recognised internationally as a good practice model.
- Trained volunteers are the eyes of the children and are there to assist children until social workers can intervene. This includes community volunteers authorised and mandated by the local Commissioner of Child Welfare to remove a child from danger in accordance with the Children’s Act.
- Trained volunteers create awareness in communities, and provide preventative and early intervention services for children and families through events, talks and workshops. They are recruited, screened and trained by CWSA to assist social workers in the prevention and management of child abuse.
- Volunteers provide a one-stop 24hrs protection service for children and safe houses with safety parents opening their homes to children in crisis for up to 48hrs until a social worker can intervene.
- Isolabantwana educators create awareness on the subject of child abuse in communities.
To date, the provincial staff of CWSA, together with member organisations and 1 440 trained volunteers, has facilitated Isolabantwana in 74 predominantly un-serviced communities and assisted between 8 000-10 000 children annually in need of care and protection.
The programme encourages young people to examine cultural influences in gender roles and re-learn how to adopt positive supportive roles.
It is evidence based and has been piloted in some provinces. It is unique in its concept, approach, design and implementation because it targets boys with approaches aimed at ensuring they become change agents. The model is premised on the view that boys, who acquire and build positive skills will make quality choices which enables them relate with the opposite gender differently.
It will enable young people develop skills to plan their future, prepare for life challenges, enhance relationship skills, learn the basics of personal growth, and understand how to seek economic opportunities. The intervention challenges certain gender stereotypes and behaviours which perpetuates and heighten violent behaviours towards women and girls.
Our Empowering the Girl Child Programme works with young women in some of our most deprived communities. Through our programme, young girls find their way forward, developing their skills to build a future that is more equal and positive.
Gender differences in South Africa are clearly reflected in girls’ increased risk to HIV and AIDS. Population Council statistical data indicates that South Africa has been excessively affected by the HIV and AIDS pandemic. Prevalence rates are higher for women than for men, with the gender inequality being more striking among young people. Three female youths live with HIV per every one male youth (with prevalence rates of 15.5 vs. 4.8%, respectively).
The epidemic is clearly becoming common in young women who are socially and economically marginalised.