Child care workers fill the gap

Ashwin Johnson from Rocklands and Faldien Hendricks from Westridge are child and youth care workers in Mitchells Plain.

With May 7 to 13 having marked International Child and Youth Care Week, the Plainsman spoke to two child and youth care workers, Ashwin Johnson, from Rocklands, and Faldien Hendricks, from Westridge, about the work they do in Mitchell’s Plain.

These youth care workers focus on life-face work which refers to developmental programmes that enhance the child’s holistic development. “We have daily routine programmes where we will get the child back into a normal society as far as possible,” said Mr Johnson.

The programs are therapeutic and creative for the child where they will speak to them, counsel them and teach them about life.

“We try to teach the child that violence doesn’t solve problems.

“We use words to assist,” said Mr Johnson.

In this profession, the youth care worker is allowed to work with children anywhere in any space. They will be in the space of the child 24/7 assisting them where necessary.

While this hadn’t always been a recognised profession, the organisation that helped get this changed, was the National Association for Child Care Workers (NACCW), said Mr Johnson who works for the City of Cape Town.

“I started in the profession in 1991. In 1994 I assisted in Cape Town City homes, helping children in the community. I then left government and headed to another children’s home.

“In 2014, I came back to government and have been in the industry for 27 years to date,” said Mr Hendricks.

Mr Johnson added: “In 2015, I started in the industry voluntarily then in 2016 started with a children’s programme. In 2014, I volunteered at Mitchell’s Plain School of Skills.

“The behaviour of children has changed over the years,” he said.

“What children were like back in the day, differs to what type of child we are dealing with today.

“Now that these services are registered in South Africa, colleges and universities have been rethinking the way they teach child and youth care.”

Mr Hendricks said one of the problems facing young people was that there were few positive role models in their communities.

“We that are in the profession can help them fill the gap and mend what is broken and understand why the child is the way they are.”

Mr Johnson said: “For this job, one needs to have passion, purpose and calling. If you do not have these things, the job will not be for you as it can get intense at times.”