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Early Childhood Development Centres Under the Spotlight

July 15, 2020

Department of Social Development

By 12 July 2020, over 9 881 Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres had completed the online self-assessment.

The social development minister, Lindiwe Zulu, announced this during a Social Cluster media briefing on the amendment of Level 3 Coronavirus COVID-19 Regulations.

Directions regarding the phased reopening of early childhood development (ECD) centres and partial care facilities were published in Government Gazette 43520 last week.

They set out the arrangements for a phased return of children who have attended an early childhood development programme or a partial care facility immediately prior to the commencement of the lockdown to such programme or facility.

The sector was earlier called to participate in the self-assessment exercise that is critical in determining the state of readiness to safely reopen.

The minister added that an additional 8 751 completed the assessment manually bringing the total number of ECD centres and programmes that have done self-assessments to 18 632.

“Of this number, 5 613 indicated that they can comply and were ready for reopening while 6 030 centres stated that will require support to operate under the current directions. Of the 9 881 centres that completed the assessment online, 1 481 were verified by the Department and meet the compliance requirements.”

The minister also announced that, so far, over 7.5 million applications for the Special COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant have been received through the various electronic application platforms which include USSD, Digital, WhatsApp and email.

4 424 720 applications have been approved and approximately R1.2 billion disbursed.

The minister added that, in order to address further exclusion errors, the South African Social Security Agency is implementing a Recourse Mechanism for applicants who have been declined and wish to review the decision. Applicants can now direct their appeals for review to: covid19srdappeals@sassa.gov.za(link sends e-mail).

As regards disability grants, the minister is considering a further extension to the period for which temporary disability grants will be paid and further announcements in this regard will be made shortly.

The minister also confirmed that discussions on the introduction of the Basic Income Grant (BIG) have been resuscitated.

“The BIG will simplify coverage and ease of grant administration. Granted that our current social security grants’ system does not permit universal coverage, the current proposal will help realise the government’s broader social security reform environment. The BIG will be unconditional, individually-targeted and at the level that will lift individual South Africans out of poverty.”

In terms of Gender Based Violence and Femicide, the department has developed the Victim Support Services policy and draft bill which have been approved by cabinet.

“This legislative framework will provide guidance on how support services may be provided to victims of violent crimes.”

The minister pointed out that the draft bill will be published for public comments on 17 July 2020.