Good Practice:

Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town

Lack of documentation impacts all areas of a child’s daily life. Undocumented children fail to access basic rights such as education, healthcare, and other activities including travel, and access to the public library, and access to additional extra mural activities. Undocumented children are at risk of exploitation and abuse.

When the children reach the age of 18, they face the risk of arrest, detention and deportation. Scalabrini Centre’s policy advocacy and everyday advice and referral service seeks to remove barriers and ensure that all children, regardless of nationality, are provided with the conditions in which they can thrive.

The Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town provides practical assistance to parents (mainly non-citizens), caregivers and social workers on birth registration and other documentation considerations for foreign children.

We also engage with relevant government departments (Department of Home Affairs and Department of Social Development) through written and multimedia[1] submissions to departments in response to proposed legislative amendments. Scalabrini Centre has made submissions in response to Department of Social Development (DSD) policies affecting unaccompanied and separated foreign children. Scalabrini Centre also conducts research in support of its submissions, including research on unaccompanied and separated children[2] Through its specific project advising caregivers of unaccompanied and separated foreign children, SCCT found a need amongst social workers and service providers within the child protection system to understand the different positions and particular challenges faced by foreign children in need of care and protection. This led to surveying every case of a foreign child placed in a Child and Youth Care Centre (CYCC) in three provinces regarding the documentation challenges and risk of statelessness faced by some of these children. This research culminated in recommendations to the Department of Home Affairs as well as Department of Social Development.[3] In October 2017, government departments and civil society organizations signed resolutions at the Colloquium on Separated and Migrant Children in South Africa. The resolutions sought to combat the issues faced by foreign children in South Africa.





South Africa


Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town


Objective(s) being furthered:

  • Ensure that no child is born stateless
  • Eliminate laws and practices that deny children nationality on discriminatory grounds
  • Improve birth registration to prevent statelessness
  • Encourage States to accede to the UN Statelessness Conventions


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