Unaccompanied and Separated Foreign Children in the Care System in the Western Cape – A Socio-Legal Study

Keywords: foreign children, child protection, refugees, asylum seekers, child and youth care centres, children's court


This article reports on the findings of a study of foreign children accommodated in the care system in the Western Cape, based on fieldwork conducted in child and youth care centres. The objectives of the study were firstly to map and quantify the number and demographics of foreign children placed in all CYCCs across the Western Cape. Secondly, the study aimed to analyse the reasons for children's migration and the circumstances around their placement in residential care institutions in order to establish whether family reunification was possible or desirable. Thirdly, the study explores the sufficiency of efforts made to trace and reunify the children with their families, whether in South Africa or across borders, as the institutional placement of children should not only be a last resort but it should preferably be temporary whilst family-based solutions are sought. Lastly, the documentation status of the children in the study was examined. Recommendations emanating from the research conclude the study.

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Author Biographies

Julia Sloth-Nielsen, University of the Western Cape

BA LLB (Stel) LLM (Cape Town) LLD (Western Cape). Professor, Faculty of Law, University of the Western Cape.

Marilize Ackermann, Scalabrini Centre, Cape Town.
BA LLB (Stel), LLM (Western Cape). Researcher, Scalabrini Centre, Cape Town.




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