GEORGE NEWS - The Board of Môreson ACVV Child & Youth Care Centre has issued the following statement in response to an article, Pleas to Môreson to keep children in check, published in George Herald on 13 August:
The Board hereby acknowledges the complaints received from members of the public and the content of the article placed in the George Herald on 13 August 2020.
Môreson is a non-profit organisation and a registered child and youth care centre with the Department of Social Development. The centre cares for 100 children between the ages of three and 18 years. All the children who are placed in Môreson are children in need of care and protection according to the Children's Act, no. 38 of 2005.
An external social worker investigates the circumstances of the child and if the Children's Court found the child to be in need of care and protection, the child is placed in alternative care, i.e. either foster care or an appropriate facility for children, such as Môreson.
On 26 March 2020, the Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, informed all child and youth care centres that no children will be moved between facilities, released or be allowed to visit family due to the National State of Disaster.
For the past five months most of the children had no contact with their family, except a few who had telephone numbers of a family member available.
Furthermore, normal activities like school and church attendance, sport and recreation and other social activities hosted by volunteers ceased due to the lockdown. Because of this, the children are even more traumatised and frustrated than normal and are acting out.
A small group of older children started to exhibit challenging behaviour - the Board is of the opinion that the personnel of Môreson did everything possible within the framework of the Children's Act to address the behaviour of this group while keeping the rest of the children safe.
To address the concerns raised by members of the public, a security firm was appointed to provide guarding services from 18:00 to 06:00 during the week and 24 hours over weekends. However, due to financial constraints, this will only be a short-term solution. SAPS was contacted regularly during the lockdown and they had a talk with all the children and searched the houses for weapons and drugs on 12 August 2020.
Obviously, all prescribed internal procedures were adhered to in reporting the numerous incidents to the Directorate for Facilities Management of the Department of Social Development and the ACVV regional manager in order to escalate these cases.
The policies and procedures of the Directorate and ACVV, together with the external social workers, allow for a child who exhibits challenging behaviour to be transferred to a higher level facility. As mentioned, this was not possible during the lockdown and thus the children had to be accommodated and managed at Môreson.
The published newspaper article led to additional trauma, where children not part of this small group, were labelled and victimised at their respective schools. Adversely, because of the extent of the details given in the article, criminal elements were made aware of Môreson - this can possibly further endanger the children, personnel and members of the public.
The Board wishes to apologise for the misbehaviour of Môreson's children but hopes everyone concerned now has a better understanding of the situation at and operation of the facility. We invite all our neighbours to visit the facility and meet some of the children or attend a programme!
George Herald had requested Môreson to comment after being approached by a number of residents who aired the same frustrations and concerns. The regional manager's full response, all that the newspaper had received at that stage, was published. - Ed
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