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Child Abuse Tracking Study

This study traces reported child abuse and neglect cases through the child protection system to identify and describe the challenges that are preventing children from receiving quality and timely protection services.

South Africa has a comprehensive legal framework that provides for an integrated child protection system including early intervention and therapeutic services. However, little is known about how abused and neglected children experience the child protection system and the extent to which national child protection protocols are followed by social workers and police officials. The Child Abuse Tracking Study will provide insight into how child protection investigations are conducted, the length of time they take, the level of inter-agency collaboration and how many children are receiving early intervention or therapeutic services.

The work commenced in 2013 with a pilot study in Mitchells Plain in the Western Cape to test the methodology. The study is retrospective and descriptive and uses a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods. It allows for tracking of cases within child protection agencies to determine how cases were managed, whether cases were completed (for example, court outcomes or support services delivered), how cases were documented, and the level of inter-agency collaboration, as some of the indicators identified.

The study aims to document current practice and make recommendations about how child protection services could be improved, how services to children and families could be strengthened and the risk of trauma to children reduced. It will in particular make recommendations for the specific improvement of child protection services within the local setting. It is hoped that these recommendations will also be considered by policy-makers during the review of the Children's Act.

The main study commenced in 2015. The project is supported by the DG Murray Trust and the RAITH Foundation.

Current project team: Shanaaz Mathews and Lucy Jamieson