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Since the first pilot project in 2013, the City’s Strengthening Families Programme designed to improve parent/child relationships and bolster the social fabric, has reached more than 500 families in 35 suburbs.

The City of Cape Town’s Social Development and Early Childhood Development Department today hosted a graduation ceremony in Khayelitsha for the latest group of families to participate in its Strengthening Families Programme.

The programme is part of the department’s broader Substance Abuse Programme. It is internationally recognised and has been found to significantly reduce problem behaviours, delinquency and substance abuse in children and to improve social competencies and school performance. It also improves parenting skills.

The pilot phase took off in 2013, when 63 families from Scottsdene, Elsies River, Manenberg, Lavender Hill and Bonteheuwel attended the eight week course featuring topics like open communication, family values, peer pressure, parenting skills and respect.

By the end of June, this total would have increased to 555 families in 35 areas, namely: Elsies River, Bonteheuwel, Bishop Lavis, Valhalla Park, Ravensmead, Delft, Scottsdene, Scottsville, Fisantekraal, Morningstar, Lavender Hill, Ocean View, Retreat, Strandfontein, Wesbank, Kleinvlei, Macassar, Happy Valley, Lwandle, Sir Lowry’s Pass, Athlone, Heideveld, Manenberg, Nyanga, Langa, Atlantis, Joe Slovo (Milnerton), Dunoon, Hout Bay, Tafelsig, Philippi, Lentegeur, Woodlands, Brown’s Farm and Khayelitsha.In this year alone, the programme is reaching 335 children and 246 parents, while also creating temporary employment opportunities through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) for 195 of them.

‘Very often we’re asked what the City is doing about gang violence and drug abuse and other social ills. We’re doing enforcement and awareness and offering rehabilitation at our six treatment centres, but we’re also helping to build relationships between parents and children to mitigate the risk of broken families and the vulnerability that comes with that. Poor choices are often the result of a disconnect or conflict within the family unit, which can then go onto contribute to social problems in a community as a whole.,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, Alderman JP Smith.

The Strengthening Families Programme uses practical and interactive methods to broach topics like love and limits, house rules, encouraging good behaviour and consequences. It also teaches children how to have goals and dreams, how to appreciate their parents, how to deal with stress, how to resist peer pressure and to associate themselves with good friends.

‘It takes courage to sign up for a programme like this and I commend the more than five hundred families who have taken the journey with us thus far. They are an example of how the City and the public need to work together to create safer, healthier communities. These families have taken responsibility for investing in their collective future and I urge others to follow suit,’ added Alderman Smith.

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