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Parliament Briefed on Rejected ECD Clauses in Children’s Amendment Bill

March 26, 2021

Department of Social Development

The social development department recently briefed parliament on the rejected clauses in the Children’s Amendment Bill that provide for Early Childhood Development (ECD).

The portfolio committee on social development earlier this month decided to reject the ECD clauses in the bill.

In a statement, the committee confirmed that the decision followed comprehensive legal advice to reject aspects of the bill that were defective and proceed to process the rest of the provisions of the bill.

In a committee meeting at the beginning of March 2021, the South African Local Government Association (Salga) and the basic education department informed the committee that the social development department “had not consulted them on the Bill as directed by the Constitution and the law”.

The bill was tabled in parliament at the end of August 2020.

The bill aims to amend the Children’s Act, 2005, so as to:

• amend and insert certain definitions;
• provide for children’s right to privacy and protection of information;
• further provide for the rights of unmarried fathers;
• extend the children’s court jurisdiction;
• further provide for funding of early childhood development programmes;
• provide for the designation and functions for a Registrar of the National Child Protection Register;
• further provide for the care of abandoned or orphaned children and additional matters that may be regulated;
• further provide for rules relating to care and protection proceedings;
• further provide for medical testing of children in need of care and protection or adoption;
• provide for additional matters relating to children in alternative care;
• further provide for matters relating to adoption and inter-country adoption;
• further provide for the hearing of child abduction matters;
• further provide for matters relating to surrogate motherhood; and
• provide for matters connected therewith.

According to the committee, the department recently informed the committee that it would set up a technical team including parliament, Salga, Office of State Law Advisor and the basic education department to look at ECD-related clauses and provide a way forward.

The committee also announced that public hearings on the bill are suspended until further notice.

At the beginning of March, the department briefed the committee on the pre-introduction consultation process with stakeholders on the bill.

The department informed the committee that the proposed section on Early Childhood Development is about Child Care Facilities as Chapter 5 focuses on partial care Facilities and the insertion of Part ll for ECD Centres is to consolidate the registration of ECD services in one chapter.

The department also emphasized that all relevant stakeholders and departments will be consulted on the development of ECD norms and standards.

In the latest briefing, the department pointed out that there is no relationship between the comprehensive legal solution sought by the North Gauteng High Court on foster care and the clauses dealing with early childhood development centres.

The department emphasised that the rejection of the ECD clauses will, therefore, not have an impact on the provision dealing with a comprehensive legal solution on the foster care backlog.

Meanwhile, the department recently briefed parliament on its Quarter 3 report for 2020/21.

Highlights include:

• Regulations to the Social Assistance Amendment Act to be revised and completed based on public comments;
• Framework for review of the White Paper on Families – has been developed along with draft revised White Paper;
• Draft Social Service Practitioners Bill – to be submitted to the office of Chief State Law Advisor for pre-certification once drafting completed;
• The Green Paper on Comprehensive Social Security has been refined considering additional expert inputs;
• Draft Policy Proposal on Income Support to 18-59 Year Olds – consultations held with stakeholders on the discussion paper for Policy proposal;
• Fundraising Amendment Bill tabled in Parliament in October 2020;
• Draft Social Development Bill consulted with Welfare Services Forum – bill seeks to provide an inclusive and responsive social development system that comprehensively responds to the needs of all South Africans;
• Draft Older Persons Amendment Bill – seeks to amend the Older Persons Act in order to close the gaps currently experienced during its implementation – to be tabled in cabinet for approval;
• Draft Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) Policy Framework developed – outlines challenges that are faced by the Sector and provide means to ensure more accountability from the Sector. It further clarifies how the different NPO regulators can coordinate and work harmoniously to supervise and monitor the NPO sector.