National Association of Child Care Workers.

Focus Area

Early Security and Safety

Innovation Lever

Existing Product, Platform or Service


Proof of Concept



Established in 1975 the National Association of Child Care Workers (NACCW) is an independent non-profit organisation (NPO) that provides professional training and support to promote healthy child and youth development. They also focus on improving standards of care and treatment for orphaned, vulnerable and at-risk children and youth in their home environments.

The Problem

A large number of NACCW Community Youth and Child Workers (CYCWs), who have already been trained on matters of child care and protection, are currently unemployed, unpaid and therefore inactive. This is as a result of a limited state budget and the shift in the Department of Social Developments (DSD) focus to support unemployed social workers rather than unemployed social service professionals (which includes CYCWs).

The NACCW has therefore been unable to leverage the training and expertise of these CYCWs to respond to the enormous challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. Activation of these CYWCs would help the NACCW to increase the reach and depth of the programmes they have continued to roll-out during the nationwide lockdown (stay-at-home order).

The Response

The Innovation Edge rapid response funding has helped the NACCW to ‘reactivate’ and subsequently deploy 137 trained and qualified CYCWs across 6 provinces with the potential of reaching between 3000 and 6000 children between the ages of 0-6. As part of their plan,  CYCWs will receive refresher training, which will entail an adapted version of the CYCW e-learning COVID-19  training program. The adapted version includes an ECD child protection focus, enabling CYCW’s to respond to safety and protection matters uniquely applicable to children between 0-6.

CYCWs will prioritise households that meet the following selection criteria: households with – children between 0-6; affected by substance abuse;  in need of psycho-emotional support;  in need of food aid; and gogo-headed households.

The regular home visits by the CYCWs include the following services: 

  • Covid-19 education and awareness.  They will also support screening initiatives for Covid-19 of vulnerable children and family members.
  • Support in the case management of child protection, gender-based violence (GBV) and substance abuse matters. The workers will conduct a child protection or safety ‘check-in’ either through phone calls or through home visits.
  • Psychosocial support for children of all age groups.
  • Food support through distribution and collection of food and access to e-vouchers.

Why we invested

Innovation Edge’s financial support ‘unlocks’ CYCW’s and leverages their training and experience to immediately offer face-to-face child protection and psychosocial services to children between 0-6 across 6  provinces. We are also able to pivot the focus of the NACCW service offering to intentionally rather than accidentally focus on children between 0-6. The NACCW will also incorporate a specific ECD child protection focus into their virtual Covid-19 training programme, which will be freely available to CYCWs across the country as well as other organisations in the sector.

The Project Team

Zeni Thumbadoo has been a Deputy Director of NACCW since 1997 and serves on the statutory regulatory body and represents the South African child and youth care sector in various national and international forums.