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Children in South Africa Community leader meets representatives from ZAFOD

Capacity development and child services

Our starting point is to identify existing strengths within health and social systems and bring them to their fullest potential. We work to develop the competence of individuals as well as the collective capability of organizations.

We have developed a specialized focus on child services because children are often among the most vulnerable in a community.

We encourage individuals and organizations to creatively seek their own solutions to challenges, and see ourselves as partners in the process of creating change. We believe that people, whether in communities or government, need the right knowledge, understanding, skills, and practice to make change happen. We call this "capacity development."

We work across health and social systems and have developed a specialized focus on child services because children are often among the most vulnerable in a community.

They are also our future. Supporting children implicitly means building sustainable communities.

How we develop capacity

  • Curriculum and materials development to refresh knowledge, skills, and practice.
  • Transformative adult learning methodologies that extend beyond technical skill development to empower learners to bring about change.
  • Support to governments in developing countries to translate policy into practice and deliver quality services to meet the population’s health and social needs.
  • Support to individuals, groups, and communities who lack resources or services and need stronger capacity to access health and social services.
  • Advocating a strong partnering and mentoring approach to enable governments to deliver better services, helping them turn policy and ideas into practice.
  • Application of a range of approaches including continuous and "in-service" training and mentoring, the facilitation of partnerships to share lessons, and setting up communities of practice where people share skills.

A holistic, systemic approach

We approach capacity development by looking at the whole picture. This means supporting individuals and groups within a whole social or health system. We also mainstream gender.

We are unique because we work with all elements of the system including community members, community organizations, and service delivery organizations, whether civil society or government.

We facilitate government departments and service providers to collaborate and network to strengthen systems. Building relationships and networks is vital for effective services in the long term.

We do both implementation and monitoring and evaluation. We work with a constant loop of program design, implementation, reflection and monitoring and evaluation to feed into new program design.

Adding value

  • Training for over 2000 caregivers in South Africa: The Thogomelo project aims to care for and protect vulnerable children by providing psychosocial support for their caregivers and promoting caring organizational environments to foster their well-being.
  • Using communities and schools to reach vulnerable children: The Circles of Support project developed a school-based approach to help communities identify and use existing resources to support orphans and vulnerable children living in the community. The main aim was to enable children to remain in or reenter school and fulfill their development potential.
  • Giving the marginalized a voice: In Zambia we worked with civil society organizations to ensure that marginalized groups – such as people living with disabilities – were represented in national HIV policy-making decisions.
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