EDITORIAL | Where is safety net for social services?

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It is Child Protection Week for SA and the national call is “stop child abuse”. However, that is easier said than done as too many families still face severe challenges in caring for their children not the least of which is poverty, a particularly heavy burden in the Eastern Cape.Let us not forget also that adult children who are made vulnerable due to their disabilities are equally in need of care and protection. We think here of the young woman whose shocking story appeared in Monday’s Herald. Depressingly, say neighbours, it was not the police nor even neighbours or the landlord who stepped in to help, but a total stranger.We can only ask: where was the follow-up on the social worker’s report dating to November 2018 stating that this at-risk young woman must be moved to a place of safety?It seems someone, perhaps several people, shirked their duties and the end result was a horrific experience which should shame the residents of Booysen Park and this city.When the challenges of poverty and disintegrated communities bump up against a dysfunctional family structure – as may be the case here – it is clear that SA desperately need to build a more caring society.Part of this is to have a safety net in place in the form of social support services and in this respect we welcome the Eastern Cape department of social development’s moves for a programme of action for Child Protection Week.However, it must not remain lip service or a talking shop but must now become a reality.We sincerely hope that new MEC Siphokazi ManiLusithi receives the necessary political backing to address service delivery concerns.In March, for example, several NGOs working with vulnerable children said they had not received their subsidies for several months. This is unacceptable.Mani-Lusithi and her team must prioritise these and other issues to strengthen the numerous NGOs which play their part by helping children at risk in urban and rural areas. We urge you, please, let us never have a repeat of the horrific Booysen Park story.

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