Monash South Africa (MSA) addressed the limited numbers of child youth care (CYC) workers in the system as there is a huge need to solve the nation’s issues in relation to the care and development of children and youth. The South African Council for Social Service Professionals (SACSSP) has registered 2,674 CYC workers during 2012-2013 to vote in the election of members to the Professional Board for CYC.

Over the 2014/2015 period only 4,800 were registered across all nine provinces, with Northern Cape having the least CYC workers. Since the then Minister of Social Development signed the regulations guiding the professionalisation of CYC towards the end of 2014, over 8000 applications for registration were received by the SACSSP.

CYC workers play a central role in helping to improve the conditions of children and families throughout the country. Their invaluable contribution to the wellbeing of young people within a range of child and youth care settings is being acknowledged through inclusion and recognition within legislation such as the Social Services Act and The White Paper, that accentuates mandated social services to children and families, as well as the Criminal Procedures Act.

MSA has launched the Bachelor of Child and Youth Care (BCYC) professional degree programme. This programme offers specialisation in the development and care of children, families and communities.

“The BCYC degree is the only one of its kind offered within Gauteng and is endorsed by the South African Council of Social Service Professions. It enables students to become professionals who are capable of offering developmental and therapeutic services to a broader section of youth that includes orphaned and vulnerable children, youth-at-risk and families living in under-resourced communities,” says Dr Rika Swanzen, Acting Executive Dean of the Faculty of Social and Health Sciences.

Students are able to make these valuable contributions, thanks to the BCYC programme’s focus on engagement with the community. This course enables students to gain a tremendous amount of real-world practical experience, through experiential learning. Graduates are required to complete 500 working hours in the field, at one of MSA’s partners which includes Girls & Boys Town, Bethany House, and Johannesburg Hospital School.

During these practicals, students are able to put the instruction methods aimed at supporting learning by the student into practice, along with the multiple modes of instruction that includes blended learning, which is a mix of electronic mediums such as videos and online forums coupled with supportive instruction through lectures and tutorials by highly qualified and experienced academics.

“Additionally, BCYC students will be able to connect to an online CYC international network, affording them the chance to stay constantly updated with the latest global trends, case studies, and CYC approaches. However, thanks to their experiential service-learning training, they will be able to quickly discover which of these is the most relevant to employ within a local context,” concludes Swanzen.

“The Johannesburg School for Autism has been the only public school in Johannesburg catering for Autism. The school implemented autism specific curriculum and Makaton to establish a model for schools for autistic learners. The Department of Education has recognised the need for schools for autistic learners and opened more schools. Schooling is however not the only need learners with Autism require. Caregivers in the industry will play an important role in support of the holistic development of the learners,” explained Ronel van Biljon, Former-principal of The Johannesburg School for Autism.

“Monash South Africa’s ground-breaking Bachelor Degree in Child and Youth Care will not only unlock the capacity of Child and Youth Care practitioners, but will further enhance the professional status of these valuable partners in child and youth work. Bethany House Trust is proud to be associated with MSA and its CYC graduandi,” says Gert Jonker, Founder and Chief Executive Officer – Bethany House Trust, Johannesburg, South Africa.

“There is a dearth of professionally trained and appropriately skilled youth care workers. Youth are most impacted by the socioeconomic challenges faced by many families. These compromise our children’s education, safety, self-confidence and future. If their home structure is weakened, children’s wellbeing depends on youth-care workers,” explains Saneliswa Mqobongo, social worker at Girls and Boys Town.

After completing this degree, graduates can find employment within residential care facilities, hospitals and NGO’s that work with developmentally delayed children for example, and correctional services or places of safety who render care and developmental programmes, amongst other institutions.