With reports that child abandonment is on the rise, the Social Development and Health Departments have called on parents to make use of their services that enable them to ensure the safety of their children.
“Rather than endanger the life of an innocent child due to various reasons, including financial constraints, we urge mothers to visit their nearest [Social Development] office, non-profit organisations and community-based organisations who can also assist,” said Social Development Deputy Director General Conny Nxumalo.
The department, in partnership with non-governmental organisations which it funds, has social workers who can facilitate the placement of children in a children’s home and temporary safe care.
“With psychosocial support and counselling, parents are provided with options such as making their children available for adoption when they can no longer care for them or request placement of children in alternative care whilst parents are getting their lives in order to take better care of their children,” said Nxumalo.
Social Development offices, hospitals, clinics and the South African Police Services are also some of the available institutions flagged as points of call, where parents can reach out for help.
The Social Development Department also works closely with the Health Department to provide support to pregnant mothers as part of the first 1000 days of early childhood development (ECD).
“High-risk parents and children displaying signs of maltreatment are identified and referred for appropriate interventions and support at an early stage.
“The promotion and strengthening of early screening of pregnant women during the ante-natal care visits is included in the ECD policy and that is implemented through the ECD programme,” said Nxumalo.
To further curb child abandonment, Nxumalo said monitoring of high-risk parents and children is carefully done during follow up visits by the Health Department after the child is born and through clinic attendance for immunisation.
Community healthcare workers can also play an important role in this monitoring during home visits.
Taking into account that child abandonment is a difficult issue and decision, the Health Department’s Communication Director Nombulelo Leburu encouraged the public to make use of counselling services.
“It is very hard to do this alone. You may want to continue the pregnancy. Your family could help you raise your child, or you could give the baby up for foster care or adoption. You may want to end your pregnancy by having an abortion
“Get counselling at a clinic or the LoveLife contact centre on 0800 121 900 or send a Please Call Me to 083 323 1023. If you decide to have a termination of pregnancy, find someone to go with you to the clinic,” said Leburu.
For pregnant women considering terminating their pregnancy, the Health Department has reminded women that they can make use of a public health facility to have an abortion.
“If you are considering a termination of pregnancy remember that it is your right to get counselling, it is your right to get an abortion in a public health facility and it is your choice,” said Leburu.
As not all public health facilities are mandated to carry out abortions, Leburu encouraged those in need of these services to make an appointment as soon as possible because it can take time.
“Not all clinics or hospitals do them. If yours doesn’t, ask to be referred to another doctor, clinic or hospital.
“You can also phone Marie Stopes Clinics free of charge on 0800 117 785 or the LoveLife Contact Centre on 0800 121 900 or send a Please Call Me to 083 323 1023,” said Leburu. –SAnews.gov.za