Several times a year, CHOSA hosts networking events that bring together our partner communities and projects to discuss common issues and hear from experts on relevant topics. On Saturday, March 9, CHOSA partnered with Simameleni (“Listen to Us”), a child abuse awareness organization, to host a workshop on the theme of “Family Reintegration and Support.” The event was specifically catered to caregivers working in “Places of Safety” for children who have been abused or neglected and are entering the foster care system. The event was facilitated by Ms. Sebi, a social worker, and came about in response to an issue that several of CHOSA’s partner homes are facing: what can be done to support the kids in their care once they turn 18 years of age.
The facilitator approached this topic by first looking at different forms of abuse, which is what leads most children to these “Places of Safety.” The careworkers in attendance learned about and discussed the effects of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, as well as neglect, on the children in their care. Attendees also discussed the role of social workers, and weaknesses in the system which lead children to be placed in homes with little, if any, follow-up by professionals. This can lead to a lack of information about how long the child is expected to stay in the home, which then causes them, in many cases, to move from home to home, or to simply return to the negative situations that led them there in the first place when they reach 18. Ms. Sebi explained how this could demoralize a child and how it could even be interpreted as emotional abuse.
The topic really hit home for many of the participants. They shared stories about how they are dealing with this issue, and related to one another in the common experience of not receiving the necessary assistance from the government. But the time of sharing was still full of hope: Hazel from Emasithandane Children’s Home, for example, shared about how they don’t send away their children away when they turn 18, but rather offer them support to later gain full independence and control of their lives. All in attendance took away important lessons, and CHOSA looks forward to continuing to support our partners as they serve the children in their care.