Every child has the right to basic nutrition, shelter, health care and support but they also have the right to be protected from maltreatment, neglect, abuse and harm. At Kids Haven, we take the protection of children very seriously indeed. We see it as the fundamental starting point for a child’s development. If a child is afraid, vulnerable and insecure, that child is not easily able to grow, play, learn and thrive.
At Kids Haven we believe in the right to physical safety – every adult has a duty of care towards children and a child should not be hurt by an adult or another child. Every child must feel safe and be safe at Kids Haven. This means that we are on the lookout for bullying and violence from child to child. Children who come to Kids Haven have learned patterns of behaviour and try to continue these patterns of violence and abuse because they don’t have another way of resolving conflict. Our programmes and daily activities offer opportunities to learn and practice non-violent communication and relationships.
There is also Legal Protection for children. A child who is no longer living with family becomes a ward of the State and must receive legal protection from the country. We follow the Children’s Act and the processes to implement the Act. This means that every child at Kids Haven receives a legal placement order as soon as possible – preferably within 24 hours. A child can receive a temporary placement order or can be legally placed at Kids Haven for two years. These orders are renewable. The social workers manage the legal placement orders of children in association with the state social workers (external social workers).
Finally there is personal protection which is the right to an IDENTITY and nationality. Children without identity documents are extremely vulnerable and hide in the shadows of society. Most recently, these children could not even attend school. Kids Haven pursues the legal documentation of all the children in our care. Every child living here needs to have a recognized birth certificate and identity document. It is a complex process to gather the evidence to secure a birth certificate and identity document. Our community team traces extended family members and assists them to appear in person at the Department of Home Affairs. We also support the child’s right to a paternity test to trace family. We include pre and post test counselling for children in this situation.
It does not matter whether a child is part of our Community programmes or living at Kids Haven – we aim to protect all children in every way possible.