Child protection services

Children up to the age of 18 should be protected. Child protection is effected through a social worker, policeman or an authorised officer who may remove a child to a place of safety without a warrant if he or she has reason to believe that the child is in need of care.

Child protection services

Links supplied by South African Government Services

Description

Children up to the age of 18 should be protected. Child protection is effected through a social worker, policeman or an authorised officer who may remove a child to a place of safety without a warrant if he or she has reason to believe that the child is in need of care.

The child is declared to be in need of care if he or she

  • is under 18 years old;
  • has no parent, e.g. children orphaned by HIV/AIDS;
  • has a parent or guardian who cannot be traced;
  • has been abandoned or is without means of support;
  • displays behaviour that cannot be controlled by his or her parents or by the person in whose custody he or she is;
  • lives in circumstances likely to cause or to be conducive to his or her seduction, abduction or sexual exploitation;
  • lives in or is exposed to circumstances that may seriously harm the physical, mental or social well-being of the child;
  • is in a state of physical or mental neglect;
  • has been physically, emotionally or sexually abused or ill-treated by his or her parents, guardian or the person in whose custody he or she is or being maintained; or
  • is suffering from a nutritional deficiency.

Children are also protected if they appear in court and it transpires during the course of the court proceedings that the child has no parent or guardian. Children may be taken to a place of safety and brought to the children’s court inquiry if this is in the best interest of the safety and welfare of the child and the court.

For more information go to the Department of Social Development

Steps to follow

  • If you are a dentist, medical practitioner, nurse, social worker, teacher or any other person employed at or managing a children’s home, place of care or shelter and it is your duty to examine, attend to or deal with any child in circumstances that cause you to suspect that such child has been ill-treated or is suffering from any injury (single or multiple, the cause of which might have been deliberate) or from a nutritional deficiency disease, you must immediately notify the Director-General or any designated officer of the Department of Social Development.
  • Your report should be made to the nearest social worker or to the Department of Social Development.
  • On receipt of this report, an investigation into the alleged maltreatment will be instituted by the social worker to verify and assess both resilient and risk factors related to the maltreatment. The social worker must then prepare a report on the circumstances of the child to be presented in court.
  • Based on the findings, the court may do either of the following:
  • Order that the child be returned to or remain in the custody of his or her parents (or if the parents live apart or are divorced, the parent designated by the court), or of his guardian, or of the person in whose custody he was immediately before the commencement of the proceedings under the supervision of the social worker.
  • Order that the child be placed in the custody of a suitable foster parent designated by the court under the supervision of the social worker.
  • Order that the child be sent to the children’s home designated by the Director-General.
  • Order that the child be sent to a school of industries designated by the Director-General.

Legal framework

Child Care Act, 1983 (Act 74 of 1983)

Service standard

  • A social worker (once after receiving the notification) has to investigate the matter within 72 hours.
  • An assessment must be made of both the safety or resilient and risk factors regarding the child’s situation.
  • Each child who is brought before the children’s court must be taken for medical examinations by the district surgeon.
  • Both child and family must be prepared for court appearance in both children’s court and criminal court matters.
  • A children’s court order is valid for two years, after which the child’s situation must be reviewed.
  • The child and family must be involved in the process so that they can be part of the plan of action.
  • The child and family must be informed of the outcomes of the court hearing.

Cost

The service is free.

Forms to complete

  • Application forms are only completed by the professionals or court officials and are available at the Department of Social Development.
  • Form 4 – Warrant to Remove and Place Child in Place of Safety.

This form should be completed by a professional such as a social worker, police officer, or authorised officer (who is appointed by the Commissioner of Child Welfare).

  • Medical forms: J 88 is used by the police for criminal court
  • Form 7 A and B – Medical Report/Age assessment of child (for the estimation of age and medical examination)

Both forms should be completed by the district surgeon.

  • Form 25 – Notification of ill treatment.

This form is completed by a dentist, medical practitioner, nurse, social worker, teacher, or any person employed by or managing a children’s home, place of care or shelter.

This is basic information and the first step for inclusion in the Child Protection Register.

  • Z1506 – Notification of child suffering from a nutritional deficiency disease
  • Z1476 – Removal of child from a place of safety
  • All forms relevant for court are completed by the clerk of the court.

Contact details

Social Development toll-free line: 0800 60 10 11

List of Social Development offices

Please select one:
National
Eastern Cape
Free State
Gauteng
KwaZulu-Natal
Limpopo
Mpumalanga
North West
Northern Cape
Western Cape

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