The mission statement of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa calls us to share the Gospel of healing and transformation, under the vision of “A Christ Healed Africa for the Healing of Nations”. Since 2003 a call was made for all churches “to become youth and child centred.” In 2004, Child and Youth Care (CYC) representatives at the Umtata Mission Congress made a significant contribution, outlining areas of concern and need that would be fulfilled by the Childcare Desk, further strengthening the vision of moving children from the periphery to the centre of the church. In 2010, the Childcare Desk became operational. In 2012 and 2013 the Children’s Policy booklet and the Safeguarding Processes and Procedures booklet were acknowledged by Conference.
POINT OF REFERENCE OF THE CHURCH ABOUT CHILDREN
God has given us a vision of “A Christ healed Africa for the healing of nations” as members of the Methodist Family. The church aims to become a youth and child friendly church and to intentionally sustain action through the implementation of the 5 imperatives namely; Spirituality, Evangelism and Church Growth, Justice and Service, Education and Christian Formation, and Human Empowerment and Economic Development.
The church affirms children’s rights and needs as aligned to the five strands of rights which are, support and care, protection, participation, development and education as pillars to facilitate rights and needs of children in all children’s services of the church. And as a church we further endorse sustainable livelihoods of children, as we highlight vulnerability of children and children at risk in mitigating positive response.
- Towards child safe and friendly churches
- To facilitate and co-ordinate MCSA initiatives in children’s programmes
- Strengthening communication strategies and interacting with Stakeholders
- To empower people in the Connexion and provide support to districts to establish childcare structures.
- Facilitate capacity building and participation for childcare structures, stakeholders in the connexion
- Strengthen children’s services and programs and have oversight of Connexion Children’s Homes.
- Participation in Mission Consultations and convene childcare support groups to direct child focus programs.
- Compliance for safeguarding and protection children is followed.
- Liaise with Partners and support programs resourced by global partners.
- Network and advocate for rights and needs of children.
What is the Childcare Desk?
The Connexional Childcare Desk facilitates children’s mission work reported to the Mission Unit Director. The Childcare Desk aims to respond, to care and support the well-being of all children especially those at risk and who are vulnerable. The desk is coordinated through the Childcare Desk coordinator who links with District appointed childcare desk coordinators. The District Childcare Desk coordinators report and account to the District Mission coordinators and their respective District Bishop’s office.
The functions of the Desk coordinators include
- Aligning of Child Care policies and protocols,
- Coordination of Children’s work in collaboration with Children’s ministry.
- Facilitating programme compliance towards child protection and safe guarding protocols
- Ensuring the best interest of the child is taken seriously at local, circuit and District levels.
- Encouraging integration of programmes for children at society, circuit and local church level
- Forming links with the church and the organisations that give continued and consistent care, support, ministry and services to children from birth to adulthood through baptism, Sunday School, Confirmation and social ministries.
- Engaging in partnership through mutual relationships, to ensure that follow-up of care supports and nurtures the child holistically within the Districts, circuits and local churches so that every child knows Jesus Christ as their own personal Lord and Saviour.
- Responds in a way that ensures a safe support network for all vulnerable children and children at risk is strengthened for the child’s life span, desiring that every child reaches his or her full potential.
WHAT ARE THE OBJECTIVES OF THE DESK?
- The Childcare Desk encourages the churches to implement children’s protocols and policies as expected in the services they offer to children.
- To collect and collate information of the services to children as they work in the projects or programmes or once-off activities in their churches at society, circuit and District levels as they address felt and articulated social ministries that fulfils the church’s purpose.
- To share information, train and support the children’s work practitioners on good codes of practice when working with children.
- To ensure and encourage all programmes to offer quality services, in secure environments according to approved standards that enable the holistic development of children and to enhance their full potential.
RATIONALE AND CHALLENGES
The state of the child in many churches and the community is one of constant risk and vulnerability. Children are constantly on the edge of deprivation, displacement, poverty, manipulation, human trafficking and disease. Activities, plans and decisions made on behalf of children often do not include the children’s input, yet it is expected that children will have to chart the way for better future for generations to come.
Society, in general, is not looking at deliberate action of how to skill and transmit life knowledge to children. There are very few adults who believe and allow children to walk along-side them or to shadow them practically, show them how to survive or live in a righteous way. Sadly, role models for children have lowered their standards as values, morality and behaviour occur in an irresponsible manner in the presence of children. We have forgotten that children do what they see and not what they are told to do.
It is left to us and our integrity to ensure that children are nurtured and developed physically, socially, emotionally, aesthetically, spiritually and intellectually so that they may all reach their God given potential. Children should be nurtured in safe, secure and stimulating environments which ensure that the “Do No Harm” ethos of the Methodist Church is driven by all Methodist people.
WHO ARE THE TARGET GROUPS?
- All Methodist Ministers and Chaplains, (school and church institutions)
- All Lay leaders
- District and local church Childcare Desk Coordinators
- MCSA organizations ministering to children
- Schools and Pre-school program managers, superintendents, teachers, and workers
- All boards of programs of children
- All volunteers
WHAT ARE THE ACTIVITIES?
- Training of leaders, parents, volunteers on child protection and safeguarding.
- Promoting the setting up of safety stewards in local churches
- Enhancing quality care and support for all children in all church programs and activities.
- Sharing new information on policies and matters on child safety and protection
- Coordinating focused childcare programs at District level especially the programs impacting on vulnerable children and children at risk.
- Encouraging the formation of all children’s Spiritual formation and development in spaces that reflect our Methodist ethos and subscribe to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour
- Promoting positive parenting and discipline ensuring that all children join a transforming discipleship movement.
- Participating in all activities and events that restore the dignity and respect of all children
- Promoting child participation, development and protection in caring and healthy environments.
WHAT ARE THE PROGRAMMES?
- Child Protection and Safeguarding
- Children’s Homes
- Early Childhood Development programs and other Partial Care activities
- After care programmes and soup kitchens
- Childcare and HCT programmes
- Child assessment and psychosocial programs
- Programmes for children living with special needs
- Comprehensive holistic Childcare Centres
- Mentoring or incubating of start-up programmes
- Training and capacity building for Resource Centres
- Healthy alternative programmes for children living with and affected HIV/AIDS, poverty and deprivation in schools, together with Health Facilitators
- Awareness raising campaigns on justice for all children.
WHAT CHILDCARE TOOLS ARE AVAILABLE?
- Children’s Policy Booklet
- Safeguarding Process and Procedure Booklet (includes Child Protection)
- Chapter 12 (Forms and Tools)
- Global Action 4/14 for Children
- Highscope Early Childhood Development Orientation Program 20 day workshops
- Early Childhood Legacy for children and parents of vulnerable families 10 day workshops
- Child Protection and Safeguarding (CCW) programme – adult sensitization, 40 topics
- Parenting programme 20 days 2 to 4 hours sessions per topic
- Parenting Course
- Capacity Building Programme
- Service Provider link CYC training programme at a cost
The Connexional Childcare Desk Coordinator: Victoria Sikhakhane
Cell: 083 644 9789 email: Vicky@mco.org.za