This study traced 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 provides insight into how child protection investigations are conducted, the length of time they take, the level of inter-agency collaboration and how many children received early intervention or therapeutic services. In five sites in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal.

The study is retrospective and descriptive and uses a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods. It tracked 258 reported 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. The work commenced in 2013 with a pilot study in Mitchells Plain in the Western Cape to test the methodology, and data collection was completed in 2016.

The report documents practice and makes 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. The research report can be downloaded here:

Out of Harm's Way? Tracking Child Abuse Cases Through the Child Protection System at Five Selected Sites in SA

The project was supported by the DG Murray Trust and the RAITH Foundation.

Current completed