Child- and youth-headed households ​

Child- and youth-headed households

In 2015, Stats SA’s General Household Survey showed that there are about 90 000 children in 50 000 child-headed households. While this figure is not large in relation to the total number of children in the country, this is still a cause for concern. Child-headed households are at risk of having to cope without parental care or regular income and are located in areas where services are poor. In addition, this vulnerable group has to deal with emotional strain and is more likely to be abused and exploited.

The Department of Social Development is the process of compiling a Child-and Youth-Headed Household Register to formalise assistance for child-headed households. The Department of Social Development began this campaign in 2014 where it asked South Africans to assist in ensuring that currently existing and new child- and youth-headed households receive the necessary support from government by informing the Department where they are. To date, 3 214 child-headed households and 6 522 youth-headed households have been identified and assisted by this DSD programme in South Africa. Once identified, an assessment of the needs of the child- and youth-headed households is done and thereafter linked to the necessary therapeutic interventions and resources.

The Select Committee on Social Services welcomed this announcement and called for its urgent roll-out so as to ensure support is given to the necessary households. Further, the Committee applauded all civic organisations for their work in this area and condemned any corruption in relation to these initiatives.

The legislative mechanisms and policies in place to protect these children already include the child-support grant, no-fee schools, the provision of meals at school and the strengthening of the National Register for Sex Offenders.