children by upholding their rights.


family-based care that is responsive and nurturing. 


strengthening services that build resilient commnities. 


effective child safeguarding systems in Africa. 

Our “Why”

Children need strong, effective and responsive circles of support at each of the levels, from family, to community, through to enabling policies and systems to create the conditions necessary for them to enjoy their rights to a family, to survive, be protected and develop to their full potential.

GCF’s approach is fundamentally developmental and transformative: it offers an integrated suite of developmental social welfare services and support to build the resilience of children, families and communities to mitigate the risks faced by vulnerable children, with the objective of giving them an equal opportunity to enjoy their rights to family care, to survive, be protected and develop to their full potential.

At the centre of GCF’s approach is the child as the holder of fundamental rights to survive, be protected, develop to their full potential and participate in decisions that affect them. The most important and immediate duty-bearer with the responsibility and, in most cases the will to provide children with the care they need to realise their rights is the child’s family, parents and related caregivers. Legal instruments such as the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) emphasise the importance of this relationship in their recognition of the right of children to family care and the recognition of parents and families as the primary duty bearers.

At the same time, the ACRWC and the CRC both recognise that parents need help in the way of services and support to meet their children’s needs, and that the government is duty-bound to ensure they are enabled and empowered through access to these services in the communities in which they and their children live.  The availability of, and access to services in their communities in turn requires an enabling strong and responsive child care and protection system that obligates and holds government departments and structures to account for the development, funding and implementation of programmes providing services and support to enable all communities and parents to provide children with the nurturing care and protection they need to survive and develop to their full potential.


Exec Members

Monica Woodhouse – Executive Director

  • What do you like about working at GCF?
    • I love the team, the collaboration, the diversity of skills and the children’s voices and laughter when we are at the centre.
  • What have you learned working at GCF?
    • I have learned that God is faithful and He has never left us alone. Faith and Works are part of a holistic approach, we need to do what we can, and God does what He can.
  • What role do you fulfil at GCF?
    • I am the Executive Director of GCF.
  • What are the values that drive you? 
    • Integrity, Compassion, Consistency, Honour, Respect, Loyalty, Kindness
  • What is your background?
    • I grew up in rural South Africa, sleeping on cow-dung floors, playing and making clay oxen by the river, to being called a racist (and other derogatory names), all because of my skin colour and associations.  My parents were not wealthy, but they shared what they had. I look back at the rich history and great legacy I had (my parents were missionaries)and I love the diversity that my life resembles, born in Swaziland, grew up in South Africa, and have Swedish roots. That is where the name SwaSwediCan comes from.  I have worked with children and families, most of my life, having matriculated in Kempton Park in 1976. I went onto doing many courses in Counselling, Therapy, Marriage, Family, and Biblical Training. I Co-Founded the organisation The Place of Restoration Trust together with my husband Basil, from very small beginnings, like a seed planted to a large Oak Tree, where there has been shelter for many a children and families over the years.

Charmaine Wagenaar – Director: Support Services

  • What do you like about working at GCF?
    • Working for GCF has a high level of job satisfaction.  I feel I make a change to the world by my small contribution towards the protection of children.
  • What have you learned working at GCF?
    • Some many things! To consider and appreciate people more, and not to only focus on the task at hand.  To believe in miracles and to grow in my faith.
  • What role do you fulfil at GCF?
    • Im mainly responsible for the financial functions, but also contribute towards human resource management, IT and administration.  
  • What are the values that drive you? 
    • A quote by Raymond Williams – “To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing”.  By only making hope possible you can change someone’s life!
  • What is your background?
    • Finances – worked as a financial manager in various shapes and forms during my career, such as for a wheat mill, in retail and also in a school office environment.

Steven Wetton – Director: Special Programmes

  • What do you like about working at GCF?
    • The feeling of being part of something bigger than myself and feeling of making a contribution towards the betterment of society for all of us. I enjoy the space that exists to be creative and innovative.
  • What have you learned working at GCF?
    • Persistence pays off! There is no “magic pill” solution for the problems that we have in our communities, there are so many causes for the situations we face today and the only way solutions can be found is if we work together collectively for the best interests of the children we serve!
  • What role do you fulfil at GCF?
    • Director: Special Programmes
  • What are the values that drive you?  
    • Integrity and Transparency
  • What is your background
    • Hospitality (Hotels) and Accounting

Trust Members

Click to read more about each member 

Dr George Mnisi
Basil Woodhouse
Musa Ngcongo
Roger Jasson
Louise Kretzschmar
Kasthuri Naidoo



1. Implementing a fundamentally, developmental strength-based approach, for the transformation of child safeguarding services in Africa in order to uphold children’s rights and responsibilities. 

2. Advocating for, and implementing effective system strengthening and capacity building initiatives together with all role players involved in the care and protection of children.

3. Providing an integrated suite of developmental social services and supporting the building of resilience in children, families and communities to mitigate the risks faced by vulnerable children. 

4. Facilitating and providing alternative, family-based care services for children in need of parental care, incl. foster care, kinship care, family-based temporary safe care and holistic temporary residential care. 

5. Supporting and advocating for the provision of inclusive nurturing care for children living with disabilities and/or having special needs.   

6. Advocating for and being a part of leading, the ethical and child-centred de-institutionalisation agenda in Africa to transform residential child and youth care centres to family-based care services. 

7. Being an innovative change agent that constantly seeks to develop, implement and improve child safeguarding approaches and principles.


About our Founder

‘When I was 15 I already knew that God was calling me to work with vulnerable children,’ says Monica Woodhouse, CEO of Give a Child a Family Africa. ‘It took us seven years to register a temporary place of safety for children because it was a foreign concept at the time. Everyone insisted on us becoming a children’s home,’ explains Monica.


‘However, I believe God wants children in families and the challenge with children’s homes is that children often get stuck in the system and don’t leave until they are 18. We decided to develop our own foster care and training programme which the government is actually using today. We’ve been working in about 12 countries in Africa with this programme, placing children back into families,’ concludes Monica.

Timeline 1977 – 2022



  • Monica Woodhouse was employed at a children’s home in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and realised the importance of family for abused, abandoned and traumatised children. 


  • Basil and Monica Woodhouse were the supervisors at a school hostel for 130 young girls in a rural village at Betania Mission Station, close to Izotsha, KZN. 
  • The Betania Mission Station become a place of rescue for distressed women, who needed shelter for the night due to civil unrest and threats from gangs. 


  • Monica Woodhouse received a R20 note and a small piece of paper saying ‘God told me to give you this money’. The money was put into a savings account for a future Care Centre.


  • Basil and Monica Woodhouse moved to Port Shepstone after having trained a local pastor with wife to run the hostel in Betania. 


  • The Place of Restoration Trust was registered with four trustees with the Master of the Supreme Court and registered as a Non-Profit Organisation and shelter with the Department of Social Development.


  • The property in Margate was purchased in July 1994.

1994 – 1995

  • The property in Margate (KZN) was purchased and registered, and buildings for administration, kitchen facilities, accommodation for women and children, and a house for the Woodhouse family to use was built, to start with. 


  • The Woodhouse family and the vulnerable 21 women and children they had taken into their own home moved to Place of Restoration Centre.
  • The Foster Care Programme was in its beginning stages of development.
  • The first baby was admitted to the shelter, unaccompanied by the mother – she was adopted a few months later.  


  • The work on buildings continued.


  • The buildings were completed.
  • Development of different organisational departments and management team took place. 
  • The first child at the POR shelter was placed in foster care in Umzumbe via Port Shepstone Child Welfare.


    • A Research Programme started about Foster Care in an African Context with the Family Care Team. Three employees had to look at the feasibility of foster care in an African Context.  


    • The Give a Child a Family Foster Care programme was launched, called Khuselani. Training, programmes and processes developed.  


    • Development of holistic programmes for children was developed.
    • The nursery and preschool were developed for children at Place of Restoration. 
    • Staff development and team training took place. 
    • A training course in ‘Professional Foster Care’ was facilitated by Sabitha Sambjee from Kimberley, where six staff members and other networking partners were included.
    • Five staff members visited the Professional Foster Care Learning Site in Kimberley, Northern Cape, hosted by the Department of Social Development.  


    • The first Foster Care training for non-related prospective foster parents took place.


    • The house by the dam was built, initially to house children, but as the foster care programme in the community was successful, it was no need to have children living there.  
    • The organisation was at last recognised as a shelter for children needing care and protection, and as the first Non-Profit Organisation to receive this status and not be considered a children’s home. 


    • A GCF Expansion Team was allocated to drive the GCF Philosophy to other parts of South Africa and Africa.
    • Parenting Skills was facilitated for the first time as a preventative tool.
    • The Foster Care Programme was refined and its training manual was translated into isiZulu.


    • Due to an increased abandonment of babies and toddlers, the capacity for admitted children was doubled from 12-24 children. 
    • The Women Care was referred to other organisations so GCF could focus on children.  
    • Active lobbying for Family Care for children in the community was pursued. 
    • The Sustainable Development Programme for families was launched along with a database of families and support groups in the same communities.


    • The opening of the newly built log cabins for older boys was donated and built by Dutch volunteers. 
    • Cucumber Tunnels were sponsored and set up on a nearby farm for ongoing funding as a form of self-sustainability.
    • Monica Woodhouse received an award for the development of the Foster Care Programme from the Swedish Funder, Läkarmissionen.
    • The first Foster Care Forum was initiated.
    • A visit to Kubitsirana, an Ecumenical Christian Association in Mozambique, for replication of the ‘GCF Model of Excellence’.
    • A visit by delegates from Mozambique took place for training in childcare, child movement policy and memory work.


    • A demonstration garden, training material completed and the first courses in Sustainable Development were conducted for foster families to be self-sustainable.
    • Voluntary Savings Loan trainings and Microfinance workshops were held in local communities.  
    • The first Bereavement and Memory Work courses were held for front-line workers in the UGU South region using a new GCF manual, ‘Coping with Death and Trauma’.

    2006 – 2007

    • Family Based Care Work was developed and a re-focus was done from the HIV and AIDS pandemic to family care.
    • In agreement with the Department of Social Development, children with special needs could be accommodated at the centre. 
    • The organisation was working with the government on the Office on the Rights of the Child, from the National, through Provincial District level, to a local level. Monica Woodhouse was Chairperson of the local municipality Office on the Rights of the Child (ORC). It was the organisation’s first attempt at advocacy


    • The first Social Work Forum was held to create a network and build relationships. 
    • UGU Organics Food Gardens pilot project had eight community gardens and 47 individual gardens that GCF mentored.


    • The organisation participated in the launch of the African Report on Child Wellbeing; ‘How child-friendly are African Governments?’ by The African Child Policy Forum in The Hague, Netherlands.
    • A First Workshop (Dialogue format) about the GCF Foster Care model was held in Kenya per invitation by The African Network for the Prevention and Protection of Children Against Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN), an Advocacy and Lobbying group active in 23 African Countries.
    • 20 people in Kenya were trained in the GCF Foster Care model to bring it forward.
    • There was a local and national conference on family/foster care in Nairobi, Kenya hosted by ANPPCAN where GCF was instrumental in bringing the ‘GCF Philosophy on Family’ forward.


    • GCF participated in a Department of Social Development workgroup about the ‘Guidelines on Effective Management of Foster Care in South Africa’.
    • GCF and ANPCCAN arranged ‘The First International Conference in Africa on Family Based Care for Children in Kenya with 417 delegates from 49 countries.


    • The South African Government implemented the new Children’s Act 38 of 2005 and documents were submitted immediately to be registered as a Child and Youth Care Centre (temporary safe care for 60 children).
    • The Food Garden Training with small groups of foster parents evolved into a new, independent organisation named Siyavuna Development Centre. 
    • The organisation held presentations at the International Federation of Educative Communities (FICE) Conference hosted by the National Association of Child Care Workers.
    • GCF consultancy partner for the implementation of ‘Foster Care Standards and Guidelines’ in Namibia funded by UNICEF.


    • The opening of a nursery in a brand-new building for 32 babies and toddlers funded by Läkarmissionen, Sweden.
    • Foster Care Training and Foster Care Assessment Training with Ethiopian NGOs. 
    • Monica Woodhouse spoke at the ‘Retrak – Inspiring Street Children’s Regional Conference’ for Practitioners in Addis Adaba, Ethiopia.
    • GCF was consulted to facilitate ‘Foster Care Training – Train the Trainer’ in Ethiopia by Retrak.  
    • A learning visit was conducted to GCF with members from the Namibian Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare and the civil society to learn best practices of the South African Foster Care System, and take part in GCF’s ‘Assessment of Prospective Foster Parents Training’. 
    • ‘Foster Care Training – Train the Trainer’ was facilitated in Namibia with participants from the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, and four potential foster care service providers,
    • 25 members of the Judiciary, Social Work, and other Justice Departments in Mozambique were trained in GCF’s ‘Assessment of Prospective Foster Parents’. 
    • The organisation rolled out ‘Parenting Skills Training’ to Community-Based Organisations and families at risk in four regions of KwaZulu-Natal funded by Kinderpostzegels in the Netherlands.


    • The Place of Restoration made way for the name, ‘Give a Child a Family’ (GCF) as the work was expanding its own borders. 
    • A ‘Family Capacity Building’ programme started in local kinship families (taking care of relatives’ children) with the goal of reaching 350 families before the end of 2015.
    • Foster Care training was done in Ukraine, including participants from Lithuania and Russia, in collaboration with Läkarmissionen, Sweden.


    • GCF started the process of ensuring that all Child and Youth Care Workers employed by GCF were professionally trained.
    • Local social workers were trained in GCF’s ‘Grief and Bereavement’. 
    • Emergency rescue and hosting of 23 children living with disabilities urgently removed from another local centre.
    • GCF opened an office in Kenya to replicate some of its services in the country.
    • The Development Division was launched to deal with increasing requests for capacity building from national and African countries.
    • GCF presented the ‘GCF Model’ to members of Government and organisations in Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Namibia and Mozambique.
    • Good Governance Capacity Building took place in Rwanda. 
    • Commenced the implementation of the GCF model in Mozambique. 
    • GCF was commissioned to build board governance, management, HR, finance systems and finance systems in a Child Education Centre in Namibia.


    • Childcare workers at a local Child and Youth Care Centre were trained in GCF’s ‘Basics of Residential Child and Youth Care for Residential Workers’. 
    • ‘Capacity Building on Governance’ was facilitated in two local Child and Youth Care Centres.
    • Trained and mentored 63 Community-Based Organisations throughout KZN in ‘Conflict, Project and Financial Management’ as well as ‘Resource Mobilisation’.
    • A Service Level Agreement with the Department of Social Development was signed to train 1200 foster families in GCF’s ‘Parenting Skills’ in 12 Districts in KZN until 2015.
    • The GCF Kenya office trained approximately 650 parents at the Pumwani Maternity Hospital to reduce the number of abandoned babies.
    • Through UNICEF Mozambique, eight Governmental Orphanages were assessed and recommendations were presented on the effective care of the children and development of the movement of children out of the centres into families. 
    • GCF hosted two Deputy Ministers, UNICEF representatives, the manager and social workers at orphanages in Mozambique at GCF’s head office in Margate.
    • ‘Basics of Residential Child and Youth Care Work’ was provided for 148 child and youth care workers in Mozambique.
    • ‘Capacity Building on Good Governance’ for partner organisations took place in Rwanda.


    • GCF was registered as a Child Protection Organisation (CPO).
    • Networking started with the KwaZulu-Natal Civil Society Coalition (KZNCSOC). 
    • Networking continued at the Premier’s Office; Provincial Advisory Committee for Children, (KPACC) and Office on the Rights of the Child (ORC).
    • ‘The Implementing Family Care in Africa Conference’ was held in Johannesburg with attendance from 34 countries. 
    • GCF began to carry out the internationally acclaimed ‘Protective Behaviours’ programme and sessions in local schools.
    • A ‘Level 1 Protective Behaviours’ training (train-the-trainer) took place in Mozambique. 
    • Various ‘Capacity Building’ and training activities were carried out in Rwanda, Mozambique, Burundi, Uganda and Kenya. 
    • Started to engage with Faith Based Organisations to promote and educate religious leaders in Child Protection.


    • Monica received the 2015 Lion’s Multiple District 410 Citizen of the Year Award for her humanitarian works with vulnerable children and families. 
    • Protective Behaviours child safety programme started taking off with 4,478 children and adults.
    • GCF’s ‘Family Based Care Training’ in partnership with National Development Agency (NDA), resulted in 1,518 families impacted in Kwazulu Natal, Eastern Cape and Gauteng.
    • Keeping Children Safe – Justice4Children Workshops in six African countries (Central African Republic, Eswatini, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia) in partnership with Interact.
    • Official Protective Behaviour South Africa (PBSA) start up as an organisation, GCF was secretariat.  
    • Faith-Based and Community Liaison formed, where building relationships with churches, war rooms and community leaders began.


    • GCF appointed as a Sub-recipient in the USAID funded REACH Programme for Ray Nkonyeni Municipality to work in six identified wards, with 3,668 targeted beneficiaries. 
    • “One Child One Family” Project – GCF in partnership with Hope and Homes South Africa to pilot a programme on the De-institutionalisation of the Child Care Systems in Gauteng as a pilot programme. 
    • 3 Workshops held for Interact partners – 1 in Nelspruit, 1 in Johannesburg and 1 in eSwatini. (122 Delegates joined from Central African Republic, Eswatini, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia)


    • Completion of the GCF Strategic Plan 2030 together with Patricia Martin from Advocacy Aid
    • Monica nominated for South African Heroes Programme – featured on E-TV Dec 2018 
    • Matsatse Mozambique Temporary Safe Care Facility registration approved 
    • Closing of the Kenya office due to funding restrictions 
    • GCF attended LUMOS Conference for Family Care and Deinstitutionalisation 
    • Parenting Skills Training with 3760 individuals reached, including parents, child care workers and religious leaders 
    • Transform Africa Alliance, (TAA) network meeting in Kampala, Uganda was attended by GCF
    • A former child from GCF’s Child and Youth Care centre represented the care leaver team ‘Leaving no child behind’ at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London  
    • Social Justice Training continues to be rolled out and facilitators were trained to a group of leaders who together influence 31 760 913 children
    • Completion of two cottages for visitors by the dam


    • Round Table Meeting regarding Child and Family Care Systems in South Africa with South African Child Rights Commissioner,
    • Government, UNICEF, Save the Children, Civil Society GCF and Patricia Martin from (Advocacy Aid)
    • Linking and learning visit to Sweden, organised and supported financially by UNICEF and GCF.  Attendees: South African Human Right Commission, Children’s Commissioner, The Presidency, SA Parliament, Centre for Child Law, UNICEF, SA Business, Swedish Embassy and GCF.
    • Dialogues with 181 local children regarding family and community care.
    • 15 Radio presentations on various family and child protection matters.
    • Pilot for De-Institutionalisation of GCF Temporary Safe Care, funded and started called “Back to Family”.
    • Justice4Chidren workshops were facilitated at GCF with delegates from Ethiopia. 
    • Safeguarding partnership sessions held throughout four African countries. 
    • Establishment of a Policy and Research Department which later became Programme Analysis Department. 
    • Meeting with National Department of Social Development Minister regarding the motivation move of the Organisational Readiness for Change (ORC) office to Presidency.
    • GCF and Save the Children held meetings with Civil Societies, UNICEF and Academia regarding the need for a Coalition of some kind specifically for children’s matters and voices. 


    • Covid-19 Storm (1) hit South Africa 
    • GCF was identified as an” Essential Service” during the pandemic 
    • Covid-19 Project Funds received R1,015,720, which was used for food and basis assistance for people in urgent need  
    • GCF was selected to be Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) distributors
    • GCF networked with Community and Faith Based liaising (Church responses food relief, Justice4Children, Covid 19 – Awareness Campaigns, Radio, Funerals, Psycho-social Support, Training, Advocacy on Children issues) 
    • Safeguarding workshops continued virtually 
    • Programme Analysis Commencement with the Family Strengthening Programme Research took place
    • Advocacy – South African National Child Rights Coalition (SANCRC) was official formed


    • Give a Child a Family Trust Africa was registered. 
    • KZN was hit hard by floods and landslides and GCF became an emergency food distributor during local unrest, including looting and rioting, and was able to distribute 2 397 food parcels to affected communities with the help of various businesses and funders. 
    • The organisation was recognised for innovation to complex problems for the ‘2021 Nedbank Private Wealth Innovation Reward’, using technology during food distribution processes.
    • ‘The World Needs A Father’ and ‘Mothers Design’ aimed at restoring brokenness in families, grew and made inroads into eThekwini and the northern parts of KZN. 
    • Partnered with Ugu Municipality Special Programmes, Lifeline, Thuthuzela care centre, Aids Foundation of South Africa and Save the Children South Africa in engagement in various community programmes, such as teenage pregnancies, gender-based violence, child abuse, children with disabilities, child rights and bullying.
    • Two internal studies were completed in ‘Strengthening Family Support Systems in South Africa’.
    • The Executive Team participated in an international, graduate-level training in ‘Impact Evaluation’, offered through Mergon Foundation.
    • Provided ‘Child Safeguarding’ services online to 21 organisations in South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 
    • The beginnings of the South African National Child Rights Coalition (SANCRC) started taking shape with a Team of 12 organisations, with GCF as one of the drivers.


    • GCF celebrated its 30th year of serving children and families in Africa!
    • GCF assisted victims of floods (adults and children) with psycho-social support and practical services with funds from Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.
    • The organisation’s community workers facilitated 18 school awareness sessions on bullying, substance abuse and teenage pregnancy with a reach of 5067 learners. (10 sessions were funded by Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund) 
    • The work towards the transformation of the organisation’s Child and Youth Care Centre to extend into family care in the community took more focus.
    • A network of local Civil Society Organisations were trained in Victim Empowerment and formed a Programme called SIYANQOBA for Trauma. 
    • GCF represented, among others, the South African National Child Rights Coalition (SANCRC) which presented its shadow report to the African Union, and African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) in Lesotho. 
    • Network re-established with Children Without  Parental Care (CWPC)  in Africa, hosted by UNICEF (Kenya) and Transform Africa Alliance (TAA).
    • The Family 4 Life pilot programme began with facilitating Parenting 4 Life training for parents in four local areas.
    • Safeguarding services provided to 20 Partners in South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. We impacted 736 children and 608 adults in the process

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