Childline crisis could result in closure

Childline Eastern Cape, which offers counselling to about 10 000 survivors of abuse and rape every year, has been forced to restrict its services.

The organisation might even be forced to close its doors if a standoff over a subsidy and permission allowing Childline Eastern Cape to work in the province continues with the Department of Social Development.

Childline Eastern Cape director Aisha Abrahams said they had not been issued with paperwork to carry on working in the province or been informed if they would receive any subsidy from the department.

The department’s delays in finalising subsidies for the new financial year have put several NGOs, including those that deal with substance abuse, in dire straits.

“We run a number of programmes in the Eastern Cape and, while some funded by other donors are still functioning, we are unable to provide full services due to financial limitations,” Abrahams said.

“We have received no communication from the department regarding funding or even budget cuts.

“At this stage, the organisation does not know whether it will receive any funding for the financial year from the department.”

She said in the last financial year, Childline Eastern Cape managed 10 225 calls on its crisis line.

“We provide therapy to children and their families and psychological first aid at Thuthuzela care centres in the province,” Abrahams said.

She said they were also involved in prevention and early intervention programmes.

“We also offer community capacitybuilding programmes at no cost to community members, child protection training to professionals dealing with children and represent the rights of children of the Eastern Cape on a number of platforms,” Abrahams said.

“If we have to close our doors, the Eastern Cape’s children would be without a service that the other eight provinces’ children have access to.

“Sometimes concerned members of the public or even adult victims of abuse contact Childline to be linked to the appropriate and relevant service providers.

“This means that they too would be without these services.”

Department spokesman Mzukisi Solani failed to respond to a request for comment.

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