Caring for Children in Need
109 George Avenue I Sandringham I
Johannesburg I 2192
Contact: Adina Menhard
Did you know…
One of the most exciting projects the Chev has embarked upon lately is the complete rebuilding, from the ground up, of Arcadia Jewish Children's Home. The design and construction costs of this modern new facility, situated on the corner of Long and George Avenues, were donated by a generous benefactor. The facility encompasses a residential section, state of the art Youth/Preventative Care Centre and a transitional home for young adults to enable them to learn the art of independent living whilst having Arcadia’s support nearby.
The Home’s fascinating history reaches back to its establishment in 1906. Over the years its occupancy has swelled and dwindled in response to world crises, peaking at over 400 children in the 1940s when it welcomed a large number of refugee children from Europe fleeing Nazi persecution.
Today the residential numbers are much smaller, with almost all the children having been placed there for their protection by the Children’s Court. As a registered place of safety for Jewish children, Arcadia’s social workers have statutory intervention rights to remove children from situations in which they are in danger of neglect and/or abuse.
So why, you may ask, if the residential numbers are so much smaller, do we now need a relocated, expanded and repurposed campus? There are excellent reasons for this essential move.
Sadly, the increasingly pressing need for Jewish childcare intervention has outgrown Arcadia’s existing resources and facilities. For varied and complex reasons many children these days are identified as being “at risk” of abuse and neglect – far too many to be accommodated in Arcadia’s current infrastructure. To protect these children Arcadia is legally empowered to insist that they attend Day Care on a regular basis as part of an early intervention or family preservation program. Once ratified by the Children’s Court, attendance in Day Care is not optional. There might also be situations in which children are safe at home during the week but in danger over weekends. Arcadia can insist on providing weekend care without having to remove a child fully from parental care, which is obviously less traumatic for the child.
In 1903 members of the Jewish Ladies Communal League started an orphanage for 8 orphaned Jewish children in a house in Pretoria Street in Hillbrow, moving, in 1904, to a larger house on Esselen Street. Due to circumstances at that time so many applications were received to house children that these premises soon became inadequate and in 1906 the children were moved to premises in Kensington.
At that stage only children who had lost one or both parents were admitted and no applicants were considered unless they had been resident in South Africa for at least a year. Children had to be between the ages of 4 and 11 at the time of admission. Boys had to leave the home when they turned 14 and girls at the age of 15.
By 1917 there were 58 children in a home designed to accommodate 32.
Gradually, as life returned to “normal” new policies in social services shared the advantages of keeping children at home with their parents. As social services started providing these financial means, and over time, the numbers of residents dwindled.
Today, only those children whose parents cannot care for them are accomodated here.