Department of Social Development
A cabinet memo for the Draft Children’s Amendment Bill was prepared for consideration by cabinet on 29 March 2020.
In a briefing on a foster care progress report on the implementation of the North Gauteng High Court order, the social development department pointed out that this did not take place due to the COVID-19 nationwide lockdown.
The North Gauteng High Court earlier ordered the department to prepare and table in parliament the necessary amendments to the Children’s Act 38 of 2005 and/or the Social Assistance Act 13 of 2014 in order to produce a comprehensive legal solution regarding the foster care system.
A number of court orders instructed the department to extend foster care orders administratively as the backlog of lapsed orders was not completed.
The department indicated that it is awaiting a date to present the draft bill to cabinet during the lockdown.
It also noted that the portfolio committee on social development approved the Social Assistance Amendment Bill on 17 March 2020. The bill will be referred to the NCOP for processing.
The department described the lockdown as a set-back for the provinces to extend the foster care orders through the Children’s Courts according to the provision of prayer 2.2.3 (ii) of the High Court Order.
It disrupted some of the social workers’ day to day processes undertaken to manage the affected foster care orders.
The department also pointed out that 1809 additional social workers will be appointed for three months to relieve social workers on Covid-19-related interventions in order to focus on foster care cases.
Meanwhile, the portfolio committee on social development has called on cabinet to fast-track its process to approve the Draft Children’s Amendment Bill so that it can be tabled in parliament.
In a statement, the committee indicated that the finalisation of the draft bill is “critical as it ensures compliance to the North Gauteng High Court order deadline of the end of November 2020”.
In another statement, the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) declared that the move to level 3 of the lockdown will help it to speed up the payment of the COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress grant.
Level 3 means that government services will commence full reopening from 1 June 2020.
“At the moment SASSA is operating with a third of its staff during level 4 and a move to level 3 will increase human resource capacity drastically so that payments are made quicker than is the case currently”.
SASSA reminded citizens that no applications for the special COVID-19 relief grant will be taken at SASSA offices as only electronic applications are accepted.