Robin and Rory were removed from their family’s care in October 2021 when social workers became aware that they were living in a storage container in an industrial area and did not have access to water, sanitation, or electricity. The living circumstances were both unsanitary and unsafe for the children and their parents. In addition, neither of the children were ever enrolled in formal schooling and were therefore illiterate at the age of 8 and 10 respectively. No stable family members could be identified to care for the children and the parents were unable to change their living conditions. Living in such volatile circumstances resulted in the children displaying challenging behavior such as swearing at each other and dealing with conflict in a negative manner. This behavior was learned within the family home and was caused by a lack of structure and discipline.

Research indicates that children’s behavior is often an indication of their emotional state and the emotional well-being of children can improve when they are living in a safe and secure environment where all their needs are being met. Robin and Rory were therefore removed from their parent’s care and placed in a local child and youth care centre. They have both been enrolled in a school and enjoy learning new things. They are excited to attend school daily and have made many new friends at both the centre and at school. The structure and routine at the child and youth care centre has allowed them to feel safe and secure which has resulted in a decrease in challenging behavior. Furthermore, the therapy and life skills being received at the child and youth care centre has assisted them in managing their emotions more effectively. Although both children miss their parents terribly, they have both shared with the social worker that they wish to remain at the child and youth care centre as all of their needs are being met.

Whilst a placement at a child and youth care centre is always the last option for designated social workers, this was the best possible placement option for Robin and Rory. They have regular telephone contact with their parents and the parents have been able to visit the children at the centre. Robin and Rory are thriving physically, emotionally, and socially. Badisa continues to support the biological parents to work towards family reunification whilst the social workers at the child and youth care centre focus on the development of the children.

This story of hope is an example of the importance of collaboration between social workers and families in ensuring that the best interest of children remains paramount when making decisions about children.

Photo by Consoler creative257: