Welcome to the Western Cape Street Children's Forum. 

"Allowing children to live on the street does not show respect for their preferences, rather, it shows a lack of appreciation for the harsh reality of their lives" - Noam Schimmel 

The WCSCF, as a vibrant and high-impact network, represents most, if not all of the professional Street Children Organisations in the Western Cape Province of South Africa.  Our Mission is to engage government, business, the wider community, other sectors, as well as service providers as partners towards the provision of practical solutions to the very challenging issue of children living, working and begging on the street.

We agree that the street environment is "developmentally incapacitating" for children, that the street "fosters feelings of disempowerment and social disconnection, and results in psychological distress and emotional instability" in children living on the street.  We also know that street life leads to substance abuse, exploitation and abuse and that no one can protect children whilst they remain living on the street and that children living on the street eventually lock onto the street and become hardened

The work of the WCSCF is to protect children from the harsh reality of street life by getting and keeping children off the street. We therefore strive to: Engage contextual and environmental factors that  draw and keep children on the street and out of care (such as the money they get from begging, the many who are willing to exploit and abuse them, and their community and family realities); Develop both the capacity and depth of service provision to vulnerable children living working and begging on the street; and Create a holistic and an integrated set of services that include early intervention and protection, outreach, drop-in  residential, education, therapy, family and community empowerment projects and programmes.

The WCSCF aims for a collective response, one that crosses organisational and political boundaries, identifies and fills service provision gaps, creates new and collective solutions, as well as one that provides capacity building, information and skills sharing, and training opportunities to organisations and communities working with or experiencing vulnerable street-affected children. 

Proof of the WCSCF and WCSCF member effectiveness can be seen in:
  •  The creation of a professional sector of services for the children living working  and begging on the streets of the Western Cape.
  •  The spread of services now found throughout the province,  as well as  into communities of origin. 
  •  The rolling out of effective legislation by government to ensure children living working and begging on the street are properly protected, identified, reported and assisted.
  •  Government's acknowledgement of WCSCF members as National Best Practice models.
  • The number of children working, living and begging on the street has drastically declined in the Western Cape over the last 10 years.
  • The  fact that we can now effectively turn around the vast majority of children who continue to  flood onto our streets both from local communities and further afield, including from neighbouring countries.
Many challenges remain for the WCSCF and its members as we strive to continue to help children living, working and begging on the street.  There are infrastructural challenges, such as the need to sustain the current network of services at a time of  funding collapse (a recent resultant closure saw a marked increase in the number of children on the street in that area of Cape Town).   We also face the need to develop both the scope and standard of drop-in centres throughout the province and  Human resources in our sector remain scarce with burnout and the need for more professionals a key factor.    Then the challenge of creating the right standard and depth of developmental programmes appropriate to the needs of the children concerned is a steep hill to climb as is simply trying to find the resources to meet the professional norms of standards required by current legislation.    

Of course the biggest challenge we face  is the ever changing dynamics of the street environment.  Currently we have a growing child-trafficking and child labour phenomenon where children are being trafficked into CBD areas each day by train or motor vehicle to beg on behalf of the adults who control them.  We also have the problem of trying to protect children being used for illegal activities (such as runners for prostitutes) and recently the issue of orphans being trafficked for foster grant fraud, and then being used as virtual slaves, is a nasty reality.  It is never a quiet time on the streets of the Western Cape.