The portfolio committee on social development has decided to reject clauses in the Children’s Amendment Bill that provide for Early Childhood Development (ECD).
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 end of last week, 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 social development department 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.
Earlier in the week, 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.