Youth Development

Youth Development

Pro-Seed: Youth Development

The purpose of the programme is to enable children who have grown up in state care to move into young adulthood with a more positive sense of self, healthier relationships and strengthened resilience.

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Mamelani’s Youth Development Programme was developed to provide support to young people who have grown up in state care, particularly residential Child and Youth Care Centers. Due to poverty, neglect and abuse, many children are placed in state care, but at 18, when state funding ends, they need to return to their communities. After years of being taken care of, it is a big change to be able to cope on their own. Without adequate support, they struggle to make their way. Our vision is that young people who have to leave care can grow into positive self-reliant young adults, able to reach their full potential. We have named the programme ProSeed to reflect the way in which we support young people in moving forward in their lives – we believe that they have all they need inside themselves to grow to their full potential.

Transitional support for young care leavers:

To date, Mamelani’s Youth Programme has worked with youth who have grown up in the Homestead’s Children’s Home in Khayelitsha. The programme has focussed on supporting them as they transition out of institutional care and back into their community – supporting them on their journey into adulthood.
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Purpose of Youth programme

The Children’s Act of South Africa calls on Child and Youth Care Centres (CYCCs) to offer transitional support to youth leaving care. Although this support is mentioned in the legislation, there are very few centres that offer this support, and once youth have left care, they no longer receive state support. Their background and life experience is one that does not make it easy for them to be able to take care of their own needs once they have exited state care.

Aside from the challenges they face living in marginalised communities, such as exposure to violence, lack of access to housing and employment, young people who have grown up in care face particular challenges. Many have lost parents to HIV, or have been placed in care as a result of substance abuse and/or sexual abuse.

The challenge we have taken up as an organisation is to design and deliver a programme that supports smooth transitions from care. We aim to significantly affect the meaning youth make of their lives, the purpose with which they live their lives and the actions they take to become active citizens in their communities.

How we work

The programme provides necessary support services to young people who at 18 years old, need to move on from the Children’s Home. Growing up in institutional care leaves many young people dependent on ‘the system’. We facilitate a process that engages young people intentionally working ‘with them’ instead of doing everything ‘for them’. We believe this approach will best equip them with the skills to adapt to their new reality and take responsibility for their own journey. The programme runs over a 3-year period, providing support in the last 18 months as they prepare to leave the Children’s Home and providing on-going support for up to 18 months once they have returned to their community. This continued support has shown to be vital for their long-term sustainability.
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Mamelani chooses to support youth leaving institutional care at 18 by focusing on three areas of self-development:

  • Building a positive identity
  • Developing healthier relationships and
  • Strengthening resilience

We work in a way that builds on existing strengths, re-connects young people to community, and encourages healthy inter-dependence. This focus allows for a positive and sustainable shift in young person’s life on his/her journey into adulthood. We have designed the programme around the developmental needs of these young people. Our facilitators work in a participatory way – from a youth-centred perspective.

The programme takes the form of experiential group work, individual one-on-one sessions as well as wilderness-based Rites of Passage processes. We encourage young people to build a network of support around them. Where necessary, support for further education, as well as skills training and internships are provided so that young people can gain necessary skills to enter the world of work with confidence and experience.

One of the most powerful impacts of the programme is that other young people who have also grown up in care, after graduating from the programme, become positive role models to those preparing to leave – giving them hope that they too can reach their dreams.

Research on youth Leaving Care in the Western Cape

In 2012 we embarked on a journey to gather information regarding current youth practice for working with marginalised young people aging out of state care. Thanks to our funders, the World Childhood Foundation and DG Murray Trust we have been able to focus on consolidating our approach and gathering information on the broader needs of young people leaving care in the Western Cape. To read the Discussion Document that came out of the research process click here

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We have begun a 3-year pilot with six Child and Youth Care Centres in the Western Cape. In partnership with the Department of Social Development, we hope to develop tools that can be used to better equip young people coming out of state care on their journey towards young adulthood. Very little research exists on what contributes to better outcomes for care leavers in the South African context. We aim to refine our youth practice by working with young people transitioning out of care and through engagement with partners and key stakeholders. This will ensure that the interventions we use are evidence-based and reflect best practice.

Pilot Programme for Young People Transitioning out of Alternative Care

In 2013 we began a 3-year pilot with six Child and Youth Care Centres in the Western Cape. In partnership with the Department of Social Development, we hope to develop tools that can be used by Child and Youth Care workers and Social Workers to better equip young people coming out of state care on their journey towards young adulthood. Part of this process is a capacity building process with each of the Child and Youth Care Centers to explore what shifts are needed to strengthen their ability to provide transitional support in their centers. Very little research exists on what contributes to better outcomes for care leavers in the South African context. We aim to refine our youth practice by working with young people transitioning out of care and through engagement with partners and key stakeholders. This will ensure that the interventions we use are evidence-based and reflect best practice.

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Previous Pilot with the Department of Social Development

In 2010, Mamelani was contracted by the Department of Social Development to run a pilot programme, adapting our approach for working with children in residential care to young people who have grown up in foster care. We ran an 18-month pilot for 10 young people who had grown up in foster care, as well as for 10 young people who had grown up in residential care.

Facilitating the pilot programme enabled us to gain experience in working with children who are living in foster care. It also gave us the opportunity to further develop our approach and see how it could be adapted to meet the needs of children who face different challenges to youth who have grown up on the street. The pilot formed part of Mamelani’s journey in developing an approach to transitional support for care leavers.

To read the report from that process, click here.