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Frequently asked Questions

What is Girls & Boys Town?

Girls & Boys Town is a dynamic non-profit organisation that focuses on the development and strengthening of youth, families and communities in difficulty.

How does Girls & Boys Town differ from other child care organisations?

Based on Father Flanagan's famous Girls & Boys Town in Nebraska, USA, Girls & Boys Town is the only child care organisation in South Africa where youngsters are significantly involved in decision-making concerning their own affairs. Our unique system of peer group self-government and 'family-style' living encourages girls and boys to learn about leadership and responsibility under the guidance of adults.

What services do you offer?

  • A total residential child care programme for girls and boys from the ages of 9 - 16, which focuses on their development and growth.
  • Alternative residential programmes - Youth Development Centres and Family Homes - for youth coming into care.
  • A continuum of training services to families, educators and other child care professionals who wish to strengthen their services or work with young people, families and communities.
  • A professionally-manned week-day national Hotline telephone counselling service for families, professionals and young people needing advice, guidance and/or short-term counselling.

Where are Girls & Boys Town Centres located?

Girls & Boys Town operates two types of programmes in eight different settings, nation wide:

  • Youth Development Centres - each caring for up to 70 youth in a structured environment, under the guidance of Family Teachers – are located in Magaliesburg and Randfontein in Gauteng, Tongaat in KwaZulu-Natal and Macassar in the Western Cape.
  • Family Homes in the community - caring for up to 10 youth in a "family-style" living situation under the guidance of Family Teachers (a couple) – are located in Glenwood, Durban and Verulam in KwaZulu-Natal, and Kenilworth and Claremont in Cape Town.

What youngsters come to a Girls & Boys Town Centre?

We accept girls and boys of any race or religious faith, from every social level of society and from all parts of South Africa.

Young people entering Girls & Boys Town might come from a broken home, a home where there is substance abuse or where there is insufficient supervision and management.Others may have developed some challenging behaviours - such as uncontrollability, truancy, bad choice of relationships or even related emotional difficulties.

Each child is unique and arrives at a Girls & Boys Town with his/her own unique set of circumstances.

Have these youngsters been involved in crime?

A small number of youngsters may have been involved in minor misdemeanours, but their role is such that they can be placed in the 'open' environment of a Girls & Boys Town Centre.

Our centres are not mini-jails; youngsters at Girls & Boys Town Centres are not serving a sentence, nor are they kept under lock and key. Because there are no fences, a youngster must want to stay at a Girls & Boys Town in preference to another facility.

What are the alternatives to Girls & Boys Town Residential Centres?

Girls & Boys Towns are registered as Children's Homes, while the alternatives are invariably Institutions run by the State - more commonly known as 'Schools of Industry' and 'Reformatories'.

The essential difference is one of approach to the social, personal or family challenge that results in the youngster coming into care.

Girls & Boys Town staff work with youth and families to address obstacles through programmes of self-government and family-style living, that focus on social skills development, decision-making and character/values formation. State Institutions tend to view formal education as the solution.

How does a youngster enter a Girls & Boys Town residential centre?

Youth are referred to Girls & Boys Town by family, friends, clergymen, doctors and psychologists – but mostly by Social Workers.

Youth are placed after the home circumstances have been assessed and where authorities consider the Girls & Boys Town programmes to be the best option for the child's needs and difficulties.

How long does a youngster stay at Girls & Boys Town?

Our general policy is to have youngsters at Girls & Boys Towns for the shortest possible period. After all, their rightful place is in the community with their family.

Ideally, a youngster would be with us for no more than two years before returning home as a responsible, contributing member of the family and community.

What about their spiritual development?

Our policy has always been to help youth of all religious beliefs. Father Flanagan stressed the need for spiritual development - he put it this way: 'Every child should learn to pray: how he prays is up to him.'

In keeping with this principle, all youth practice their religious beliefs while at Girls & Boys Town.

When did you open a Residential Centre for girls?

After many years of planning and pleading, Boys Town officially announced its change of name to "Girls & Boys Town South Africa" in November 2004, and opened the 'Alpha" Family Home in Claremont, Cape town in January 2005. This was our first residential centre for girls.

However, Girls & Boys Town has been assisting girls for many years through our national Hotline (counselling and advice services offered to families and young people) and programmes offered to families, schools and care providers via our Training and Resource Centres.

How successful is the Girls and Boys Town concept?

A thriving Alumni Association –where we find successful Girls & Boys Town 'graduates' in all walks of life – is testimony to our work.

Although there is no systematic or legal way to measure the success of our work – from general feedback, we believe that our young people are now out in the world equipped with new skills and alternative ways to meet life's challenges and realise their human and spiritual potential. They are now an asset to their communities and families.

What are your 'Community Outreach' programmes about?

This is the most exciting extension of the organisation's work for the future!

For the past years we have, within our Training and Resource Centres, been pioneering, adapting and training various programmes in association with Girls & Boys Town USA. The most effective of these are the 'Common Sense Parenting' and the 'Well Managed Classroom' programmes.

These hold out the most promise for youth, parents, families, educators, schools and communities in South Africa. For more details of these and other programmes - please click here.

Where do you get your funds?

About 90% of our funds are raised by our own staff from the general public, while the State assists with a small monthly subsidy. However, this amount is hardly adequate to meet the needs of growing youngsters.

Lack of finances would never be a reason for Girls & Boys Town to turn away a youngster needing care – or schools, parents and professionals needing our Training Programmes.

To join our family of donors, please click here.

Are donations to Girls & Boys Town exempt from Income Tax?

Yes - Girls & Boys Town is registered as a Public Benefit Organisation (PBO) in terms of the Income Tax Act (Act 58 of 1962). Gifts to Girls & Boys Town are tax deductible in the hands of the donor - individual or Company - up to 5% of taxable income (SARS ref: 18/11/13/379)

Can I visit a Girls & Boys Town Centre?

Girls & Boys Town has an 'open door' policy and visitors are most welcome – not only because it's important that our girls and boys have contact with the outside world – but also because, the better the knowledge about Girls & Boys Town, the greater will be the support and awareness of the programmes we offer.

To arrange a visit, simply contact any of the Girls & Boys Town Development Offices located in the major cities of South Africa, or click here to find a Girls & Boys Town Centre near you.

What can I do to Help?

Many individuals demonstrate their concern for children and find satisfaction in giving them the one gift they deserve most – a chance for change. There are a number of ways in which you can invest in our youngsters and extend the work of Girls & Boys Town:

  • Help sponsor a girl or boy by contributing a monthly/annual sum towards her/his development.
  • Make a gift of money or provision in your will for a bequest to Girls & Boys Town. Our FREE Booklet on Wills is available on request.
  • Visit one of our Centres and tell others of the work of the Organisation and its programmes.
  • Provide work/study opportunities for our girls and boys when they leave our programmes.
  • Volunteer your skills

If you would like to sponsor a girl or boy or would like to be placed on a mailing list for our publications, please contact us on (011) 482-2655 or e-mail

“A hundred years from now the world may be much different because I was important in the life of a child”

At a glance ...

What is Girls & Boys Town?

How does Girls & Boys Town differ from other child care organisations?

What services do you offer?

Where are Girls & Boys Town centres located?

What youngsters come to Girls & Boys Town?

Have these youngsters been involved in crime?

What are the alternatives to Girls & Boys Town residential centres?

How does a youngster enter Girls & Boys Town?

How long does a youngster stay at Girls & Boys Town?

What about their spiritual development?

When did you open a residential centre for girls?

How successful is the Girls & Boys Town concept?

What are your community outreach programmes about?

Where do you get your funds?

Are donations tax deductible?

Can I visit a Girls & Boys Town Centre?

What can I do to help?






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