“Resilience is a journey not a destination.” Karen Ferris
We believe in the protection and care for children – all children. In families. In alternative care like Kids Haven, and in communities. We believe that it is the duty of every adult to protect every child. Once a child is safe, that child must be cared for. CARE is vital for happiness, optimism, and the ability to make the most of your world.
We long for a country in which children are safe and cared for in their own homes and in all communities. We are playing our part to achieve this in our corner of Ekurhuleni!
Thank you for being a part of this mission.
This April has been one of those step-forward, step-back, bounce-forward, fall-down, get-back-up kind of months!
Firstly, we are grateful for the many holidays in April that allow us to rest and recharge. Our children living in care enjoyed a wonderful school holiday from the end of March until Easter. Where possible, children with family or host families took a break from Kids Haven and spent some time ‘at home’. These are good opportunities to build relationships a little more, always working towards permanent reunification if possible. We really don’t want a child to grow up in a children’s home unless absolutely necessary.
Children who had a ‘staycation’ and remained at Kids Haven throughout the holidays got to have some fun outings. We made sure to visit the local parks on our doorstep for some old-fashioned fun in the sun. It is always fun to go to Benoni’s bunny park, or the local bokkie park. Our older children visited the Benoni Monkey and Bird Park too while the children participating in the President’s Award went on a really l o n g hike that was hard work but very rewarding. Eight children took an exciting trip on the Gautrain into Sandton from Rhodesfield. It is truly a WOW experience every time any of the children take this trip. We saw wide eyes, and big smiles on everyone’s faces.
We also want to thank our childcare workers for finding fun ways to enjoy time at home. This month we have enjoyed a few BIG group walks around our suburb – anything from 2.5 to 5 km. Not bad on little legs! We have also had a sports day of soccer and netball with our young man, Dumisani, proving height is a factor when playing netball! These kinds of days showcase all kinds of talent in the children, while having a great day in the sunshine with friends. Aunty Terri has a regular Thursday yoga session with the boys at the Centre, and the whole centre of boys and staff got together a few times for some HIT training courtesy of You Tube and the lovely big space we have at the education annex. It is important to us to encourage healthy activities and healthy eating. We want to build good habits for the future and especially enjoy it when the mums and uncles model this positive behaviour for the children.
And then it was EASTER
Did anyone else in Joburg have Easter eggs? Kids Haven thinks we have them ALL! We had the most wonderful response to our call for Easter eggs for the children, especially for ‘shaped’ eggs so that each child could have his or her own special Easter egg on Easter Sunday. Thank you. The Easter bunny visited our Village and shared Easter eggs, and all the children at the Centre and those at the Village ran about on Sunday morning for a traditional Easter egg hunt. We balanced out the chocolate with a healthy breakfast of fruit and cereal. The marshmallow eggs are always a favourite treat, and we continue to enjoy them at birthday parties and tucked into the school lunch packs. We received cute bunny bags from the team at Gerbers 4×4 which our preschool children enjoyed on their first day back at school after the holidays. That was a good start to term two!
After only two weeks back at school, everyone is enjoying these last few public holidays this weekend. Freedom Day on the 27th of April remains an important time for all of us to reflect on our history and grateful that South Africa celebrates democracy on this important ‘birthday’. The younger children learned about our flag, colouring in their own versions and learning the national anthem. Our older children worked hard on their debate topics, and we saw some stars in action. A special mention of our boys Calin, Mbuso and Tona and these girls Queen, Sbongile, Tayo, Rose and Thando who gave it their all. We are very proud of how well they could articulate their points of view.
It has been one of the happiest months for the children.
The Sector under threat
Running parallel to the children having the best time of their lives, was the black cloud of the Gauteng MEC decisions to cut funding to many non-governmental organizations.
This did not happen to Kids Haven. The Department has renewed their funding for the child and youth care centre for another year. We are grateful for this valuable support which we top up with donor funding.
The donor funding portion ensures we have more than two social workers (Department funds two junior posts), have funds for schooling and all the related expenses like uniform and transport, plus allows us to have extra care workers to provide key programmes like Care-Leavers, Life skills (including activities like The President’s Award), and makes sure we have enough safety and security for our children and buildings.
The change in funding decisions from the Department does impact our close partners at Benoni Child Welfare and CMR who are our nearest Child Protection Organizations (CPO’s). Their budgets were slashed so substantially that these offices closed immediately. This is BAD news for the sector since it is the CPO’s who are the first responders when a child is in crisis and needs removal into care. They also provide important support to foster families ensuring that children are safe and well cared for. Many other Organizations across the province faced similar cuts.
Kids Haven is happy to report that at the time of writing this newsletter, the MEC and Department of Social Development Gauteng is rethinking their initial budget allocations. The newly formed NPO Crisis Care Committee and the Gauteng Welfare Forum will be meeting with the MEC and the Premier on the 4th of May to listen and review their decisions. The sector is cautiously optimistic that funding cuts will be stopped, and service level agreements renewed with good service providers who are key to welfare support for children, families, and disability. We wait and see.
Our ‘other’ business plans – prevention work (precare) and youth support (aftercare) and ECD (preschool)
Kids Haven submitted four business plans to the Department in October 2022 seeking funding for the holistic services we provide beyond the children’s home. Department funding is important to provide a ‘secure’ foundation for the services we deliver to improve the wellbeing of children, families, youth, and communities. Business Plans are submitted in October, reviewed in March with new agreements signed at the end of March or in April every year.
Kids Haven has received funding for the children’s home since early after democracy in 1994 after our founder, Moira Simpson, wrote to Nelson Mandela to tell him about Kids Haven. He responded and requested the then Minster of Welfare, Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, to ensure that Kids Haven could be registered to receive funding. Over the years, Kids Haven has ensured we meet all the requirements of the Department to maintain this funding amounting to 61% of the actual cost of the Children’s Home or Incare. We have a committed monitoring social worker from the Department, Matshepo Nkuna, and a second regular visitor in Zandi Hlanjwa who visits us quarterly to monitor the use of the funds and check on the governance and compliance of Kids Haven. We are happy to report that Kids Haven is in good standing with the Department, and they commend us for our programmes and our management of resources.
We have had a mixed response for the three new business plans that we presented:
The prevention programme has been declined outright because we are based in Benoni and not in the TISH priority areas – townships, informal settlements, and hostels. This is VERY disappointing since our community work, other than the TEEN HUB, takes place in TISH areas all the time. We are grateful for donors who help us specifically to maintain our food garden project, the Teen Hub, the family empowerment workshops, and for providing things that we can share with the community too. Kids Haven is committed to maintaining this ‘upstream’ work. It makes so much sense to prevent children from getting into crisis and landing up in the children’s home. We are resilient. The work continues, we collect data and stories of impact, and we hope to persuade the Department of the need for support in the future.
The aftercare or independent living programme remains ‘possible’ because it aligns to the Department’s priority of supporting youth who exit care. Kids Haven is recognised as ‘doing this well’. As I write this newsletter, Sam is looking forward to attending the graduation of Lucia on Thursday. She joined Kids Haven in 2009, returned home with support from Kids Haven in 2011 and has received ongoing mentorship and resource support from Kids Haven since then. She completed Matric under challenging circumstances but kept going with constant support from Sam, Uncle John, and Leonard. Now she graduates from the University of Pretoria with a BCOM LLB majoring in accounting and taxation. THIS is aftercare.
Our preschool business plan looks most likely to succeed this year although we have been asked to resubmit it in a new format for final adjudication. This is good news, and we are cautiously optimistic. The first children who attended our creche way back in 2004 have now LEFT school! We have two youth who have completed their early childhood development qualifications and many, many more young learners who have had a great start to their schooling lives since opening nineteen years ago. It is time to receive some basic funding to cover some of these costs!
Always learning and looking up
As always, Kids Haven resiliently and resolutely looks up! The protection and care of children is critical, and we will continue to work hard everyday towards our mission that every child can be safe and well-cared for – at least in our corner of Ekurhuleni. Our children, and families in the community, teach us daily on how best to meet their needs, and we keep a close eye on partners and others whom we can learn from to do our work better.
Thank you for being part of this mission.
Our children are working hard towards their mid-year exams and our first cohort of Youth Hub trainees will be finishing their basic business training and identifying their ‘what next’ this month. We are also excited to be hosting the Socionext Business BOOT CAMP for five days in May for 25 young entrepreneurs who will move from ideas to implementation during this concentrated week.
The food garden awards for best growers and best gardens took place in April. We celebrated with six communities, and loved seeing the community members bringing along home-grown vegetables to the awards events as proof of the great work they are doing. Watch the video here on our Facebook page: fb.watch/kcL3DLv2oT/ Project manager, Farmer Leonard Ngobene, has already brought in fifty new gardeners in the Barcelona community and another fifty more in Alra Park, Springs. Leonard is learning along with the growers. We hope to attend some formal training at the Ekurhuleni Agricultural college this year. One grower who completed training at Buhle Farmers Academy with Kids Haven secured formal employment at a local nursery as a result.
This month, we are also on the move to Cape Town where Sam will be a speaker at the Scalabrini Conference on child protection through documentation and two other staff are attending the Greenlight Movement conference on evaluating empowerment in families and communities. Our close friend and children’s rights attorney, Annelie Du Plessis, releases the “Guide to documentation” based on experiences of the Kids Haven social work team and their knowledge and determination to secure documents for children and adults in our programmes. This guide will assist any social worker or community worker to follow the process to possible documentation for any client.
Kids Haven also concluded their financial year FY23 at the end of March 2023 and has been finalising the financial statements in preparation for audit next month. We will also be compiling a comprehensive impact report on the outcomes of all programmes and activities since April 2022.
Upcoming Theatre Event
We would love you to join us on Thursday, 13 July to watch funny man Marc Lottering in his new show combining comedy and music – “so I wrote that musical”. We have booked seats at the Pieter Toerien Theatre (Montecasino). Seats cost R 250 each with proceeds going to formal schooling. Please take a ticket or TWO! Early-bird bookings during May receive a discounted price of R225 per ticket. Please email Susan at email@example.com to reserve your seats now.
Thank you for being part of the Kids Haven community of care, working hard at making protection and care of children the norm.
Please feel free to contact us about anything in this newsletter or our social media posts via firstname.lastname@example.org . We are always glad to hear from you. Use this email to book a collection of second-hand items or to ask about volunteering. Or Whatsapp us on 071 860 0505.
Sam, and all at Kids Haven