Complexities in the Case Management of Unaccompanied Minors: Perceptions of Social Workers Practicing in the Polokwane Child and Youth Care Centres
Post-apartheid South Africa has become a preferred destination for migrants and refugees from across different parts of the globe, particularly the African and Asian continents. The influx of foreign nationals into the country has contributed to an increase in the number of unaccompanied minors as they either travel alone or become separated from caregivers or parents once they entered the country. This situation has complicated the management aspects of the cases of unaccompanied minors at the local level. The purpose of this article is to explore the experiences of social workers in the management of the cases of unaccompanied minors in the Children and Youth Care Centers (CYCCs) in Polokwane area. Qualitative data were collected by employing face-to-face interviews as well as observation techniques and data were analysed applying qualitative thematic approach. The finding highlights that most of the unaccompanied minors were in dire need and lack proper documentation. It was also revealed that a number of perilous child protection challenges existed in the management of the cases of unaccompanied minors. A limited capacity of social workers, lack of intersectoral integration and collaboration, and insufficient allocation of resources to tackle the multiple dilemmas that affect unaccompanied minors in the CYCCs. It is concluded that despite the solid international legal framework and South Africa having a relatively well developed legal and policy framework governing child protection, there are a number of critical child protection gaps that exist in terms of the implementation of these frameworks for unaccompanied or separated foreign children by government officials.
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