Strategic Plan for 2011-2014:Department of Social Development

NCOP Health and Social Services

30 May 2011
Chairperson: Mr TA Mashamaite (ANC)(Acting)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Social Development presented its Strategic and Budget Overview for 2011-2014, emphasising welfare services improvement, community development and the provision of comprehensive social security as the Department’s key priorities. The impact of drug and substance abuse and the shortage of social workers were highlighted as major challenges for the Department.

A number of questions from the Committee related to the Department’s efforts to combat drug and substance abuse in general and in schools in particular. The problem of “loan-sharks” operating in shebeens was pointed out as an issue of grave concern. Committee members asked questions relating to the training of social workers, auxiliary social workers and community development practitioners across the country’s provinces. The apparent lack of resources and infrastructure for caregivers and social workers was discussed. Other issues raised included orphaned and vulnerable children and adoption processes. The Committee also questioned why a large proportion of the operational costs of the budget were allocated to administration costs.

The Committee adopted the Department’s Strategic Plan for 2011-2014 and the Committee Report on its Study Tour to the Netherlands.

Meeting report

Opening remarks by the Deputy Minister of the Department of Social Development
Ms Bongi Ntuli, Deputy Minister of Social Development, stated that the vision of the Department was to improve the quality of life of South African people and emphasised the importance of implementation and delivery to the people.

Department of Social Development (DSD) Budget and Strategic Plan 2011-2014: briefing
Mr Vusi Madonsela, DSD Director-General, introduced the presenter and commented that the Department’s strategic plan was oriented around government’s focus on “outcomes”.

Mr Rodgers Hlatshwayo, DSD Chief Director: Strategy, presented the Department’s Strategic Overview for 2011 to 2014. Welfare service improvement, community development, the provision of comprehensive social security, strengthening the NGO sector and food security were highlighted as priority areas for the Department. Social policy coordination and research was flagged as imperative for improving policies and policy implementation.

The Department’s activities contribute to the attainment of certain government outcomes. The Department’s targets for 2014 were placed within the context of various government outputs. For example, the Department hoped that by 2014, 60% of victims of gender based violence would be provided with the necessary services. This related to government’s Outcome 3 that “all people in South Africa are and feel safe”.

The development and implementation of policies relating to Early Childhood Development (ECD), a “supervision” framework for social workers, non-profit organisation (NPO) financing, social services for older persons and persons with disabilities, child protection services, child care, drug and substance abuse, gender-based violence and HIV/Aids prevention, among others, were covered.

The number of grant beneficiaries was projected to increase from 13,778,649 in 2010 to 16,266,972 in 2014.

Major challenges faced by the Department were the continuing high levels of social crime, fuelled by drug and substance abuse. The shortage of social workers was the most critical challenge for the delivery of social welfare services. The Department was putting R244 million this year into scholarships for the training of social workers. The Department was also talking to leadership at universities to see how they could assist the Department in addressing this problem.

Mr Stephanus Esterhuizen, DSD Director: Financial Planning, presented the Budget Outlook and the earmarked allocations for the years 2011-2014. The new budget was structured according to the Department’s administration, social assistance, social security policy and administration, welfare services policy development and implementation support, and social policy and integrated service delivery programmes. The majority of funds were allocated to the social assistance programme, which included the social grants.

Operational allocations per programme for the 2011/2012 financial year were presented, with the administration programme consuming 48% of the total allocated budget. In terms of operational allocations per economic classification, compensation of employees was 48% of the total allocated budget, while goods and services were 49% of the budget.

Ms M Boroto (ANC) asked how scholarships for the training of social workers would be allocated across the country so as to maximise the number of social workers operating in the rural areas. How much progress had the Department made in training auxiliary social workers? What relationship did DSD have with local and provincial government, as this was instrumental in ensuring that services were reaching the people?

Dr Maria Mabetoa, DSD Deputy Director-General: Welfare Services, answered that the greatest portion of scholarships were allocated to students attending the historically “black” and disadvantaged universities, such as Fort Hare University.

Dr Mabetoa said that they were continuing with the training of auxiliary social workers at the provincial level. At present there were 4000 trained auxiliary workers.

Dr Mabetoa said 3 523 people had been trained as social workers through the scholarship programme. Almost 4000 scholarship students were currently enrolled; an additional 565 students would be enrolled during the year using leftover funds. Provinces were also putting money towards scholarship programmes, in addition to the national scholarship programme. For example, Limpopo had 400 scholarship students in training and the Eastern Cape had almost 600 scholarship students.

Dr Mabetoa said there was an interdepartmental effort with the Department of Basic Education and the Department of Health to engage with municipalities in the provision of infrastructure for ECD centres. She added that the Department of Basic Education trained ECD practitioners and so far had trained more than 20 000 EDC practitioners.

Ms Boroto asked if drug and substance abuse rehabilitation
centres were well-resourced and distributed evenly across the provinces. Would the Department furnish her with this information on paper at a later date if it was not available straight away?

Dr Mabetoa answered that rehabilitation centres did exist but were concentrated mainly in the urban areas. Provincial departments did have plans to build more rehabilitation centres in each province. The Department would make all this information available to the Committee.

Ms Boroto asked how youth from the rural areas would be involved in the youth dialogues referred to in the presentation.

Dr Mabetoa replied the Department would ensure that youth dialogues were inclusive of young people from the rural areas.

Ms Boroto had been confronted with caregivers who did not have necessary resources such as gloves. Could the Department monitor and report on the allocation of adequate resources to caregivers?

Mr Peter Netshipale, DSD Chief Director: NPO and Partnerships, said challenges such as the lack of gloves were picked up when the Department did monitoring of the community care givers. The collaboration with the Department of Health should provide these amenities.

Ms Boroto asked how the introduction of Grade R as a new grade in the primary education system would impact on the Department’s ECD project.

Mr Madonsela added that ECD programmes focused on providing services to children between the ages of zero to four years, so that by the time children reached six years of age they had received sufficient care and nourishment to be ready for Grade R. The Department’s services for children at this young age were the most crucial to children’s well being and development.

Mr De Villiers commented that the quality of ECD programmes was more important than the mere quantity of children benefiting from the programmes.

Mr Madonsela agreed that the quality of ECD programmes was as important as the quantity, if not more so.

Ms B Mncube (ANC) commented that in Qwa Qwa, Free State, there was insufficient transport and infrastructure (such as offices) for social workers to do their jobs properly.

Dr Mabetoa responded that she would like more details about this incident as Government actually subsidised cars for social workers in most provinces. Offices for social workers were a problem but the Department did have a strategy to make offices available for social workers.

Ms Mncube asked how the 400 Community Development Practitioners (CDPs) to be trained by the Department in 2011/12 would be divided amongst the nine provinces. She also asked for more specific information about the exact location of the districts in which NPOs would be capacitated.

The Acting Chairperson also asked why there were NPO Help desks in only three provinces of the country.

Mr Netshipale answered that Committee members should realise that NPO registration was voluntary. There was a need for communities to be educated on the functions of, and processes involved in, establishing an NPO. The Department therefore adopted a “phased” approach to this project. To this end, fifteen help desks had been set up in districts in Kwa-Zulu Natal, Limpopo and the North West provinces.

Ms Mncube also asked in which of the country’s provinces the four HIV/Aids and TB training programmes planned for 2011/2012, would be taking place.

Ms Mncube asked if and how the Department worked with the Ministry of Children, Women and Disabilities to combat gender-based violence.

Dr Mabetoa said that the Department of Justice led a “rape” strategy. Victim empowerment programmes were in place but accessibility to these might not be easily accessible.

Ms Mncube stated that drug and substance abuse was rife in schools. A particular problem in schools in Gauteng was the sale of “dagga cookies” to children outside the schoolyard, during lunch breaks and after school.

Dr Mabetoa said the high prevalence of drugs in schools and communities was constantly on the agenda. The Inter-Ministerial Committee on Anti-Substance Abuse, established October 2010, ensured that each Department dealt with their mandate in terms of anti-substance abuse.

Mr Madonsela added that part of the solution lay in the implementation of a school nutrition programme that would obviate the need for kids to buy food from outside the schoolyard and therefore reduce their exposure to drugs in the form of “dagga cookies” and “dagga cakes”.

Ms Mncube stated that there should be an alliance between the Department of Social Development, the Department of Health and the Department of Police to deal with the problem of antiretroviral drugs being concocted into harmful drug substances.

Dr Mabetoa said the Minister of Health was aware of this problem and had plans to deal with this. Resolutions dealing with this problem had been adopted at the anti-substance abuse summit held earlier on in the year.

Ms Mncube described a family of six orphaned children in Flakfontein, only four of whom were taken in by a foster home, while the other two were left behind in an RDP house on their own. Was there a limit as to how many children a foster home could take into its care that would explain why only four of the six children were taken into care?

Dr Mabetoa did not understand why two of the six orphans were left behind by the foster care workers but asked for the details of the incident so the Department could follow up on the matter. Children belonging to the same family and household should always be kept together.

Ms Mncube asked if the Department had programmes to educate South African families on adoption.

Dr Maria Mabetoa answered that campaigns encouraging people to adopt children were run on occasion. Social workers were not however, up until last year, trained in adoption as a continuum of social care. A strategy was being implemented to train social workers on service delivery related to adoption.

Mr M De Villiers (ANC) expressed concern at the Department’s apparent lack of a strategy to deal with the “loan sharks” operating in the shebeens who were targeting very poor people reliant on the grant. People must be educated about the impact of the “loan sharks” on them.

Mr Wiseman Magasela, DSD Deputy Director-General: Social Policy, answered that in order to understand this problem, one needed to understand the relation between the high levels of unemployment and lack of decent jobs and poverty in South Africa.

Mr De Villiers asked if the Department had programmes aimed specifically at enabling poor people to lift themselves out of poverty as opposed to them relying on grants but yet remaining in a state of poverty.

Mr Madonsela said the Department’s primary interventions were to make sure that people did not slide “deeper” into poverty and not necessarily to lift people out of poverty. This was the role that needed to be filled by the economic sector of government through decent job opportunities. No amount of state intervention, in the form of social grants or welfare services, could lift people out of poverty.

Mr Magasela took this opportunity to highlight the benefits derived from social grants. For example, 99% of people who received the child support grants were women. This was a positive factor considering that, according to local and international trends, grants received by women typically translated into benefits for children. There was also greater job-seeking activity amongst the recipients of social grants. The Department worked with the Expanded Public Works Programme to educate poor people on how to lift themselves out of poverty. The training of ECD practitioners and youth and childcare workers who were eventually deployed to work in their communities was an important contribution in this regard.

Mr De Villiers asked about the Department’s target to profile 1,5 million households by 2014.

Mr Netshipale answered that community and household profiling allowed the Department to gain an understanding of problems experienced by the communities. This informed appropriate intervention strategies.

Mr De Villiers asked for specific information on the targets for job creation and whether the jobs the Department had in mind would be temporary or permanent positions.

Mr Netshipale said the Department did have information on how many jobs were created by the CDP training, and how this was spread across the provinces. This could be provided to the Committee.

Mr De Villiers noted the Department’s aim to increase compliance with the norms and standards of the Children’s Act by 20% each year for three years. Considering the baseline of 0% compliance with norms and standards, this would yield only 60% compliance with norms and standards by 2014. Could this be improved upon to reach rather 100%?

Ms Mabetoa said compliance with the Children’s Act norms and standards had serious financial and human resource implications and thus limited the Department’s ability to ensure 100% compliance by 2014.

Mr De Villiers also asked if the Department’s target to place 14 000 youth in its National Youth Services programme by 2012/13 was realistic, especially considering the previous year’s target of 1 800 youth placements in the NYS.

Mr W Faber (DA) thought the 48% expenditure on employee compensation was too high and that more money should be allocated to the people (beneficiaries) themselves.

Mr Madonsela agreed that 48% compensation was very high but that the figure was a reflection of the amounts earned by people in the public service which the Department did not control. There had been a need to increase the wages of skilled social workers which was reflected in the figure of 48%

Mr Coceko Pakade, DSD Chief Financial Officer, added that the pie-chart showing 48% employee compensation was misleading as the chart did not include the “transfers” made to key programmes. It should be taken into account that the management and monitoring of such transfers, for example the social assistance budget of more than R90 million, required a considerable work force.

Mr Faber said that in 2011/12, R32 million was allocated to LoveLife, yet he had never seen a presentation by Love Life as to how it was spending this money and on what programmes. When would the Committee receive such reports on LoveLife?

Mr Netshipale replied that reports on LoveLife had been done. An intergovernmental task team, including the Department of Social Development, had been established to review the LoveLife programme and determine whether or not its campaigns were still suitable.

Mr Faber asked who monitored and regulated the South African Social Security Agency’s (SASSA) distribution of grants as he had noticed a number of irregularities with this, especially before the elections. 

The Chairperson asked why no targets had been set for the Masupatsela Youth Pioneer Programme’s (MYPP) in 2011/12, considering the baseline of 2 099 MYPP participants.

Mr Netshipale replied there were no targets for MYPP for the current year because the project had been a pilot project. An additional factor was that an appropriate “exit strategy” for the programme still needed to created. There was a target to recruit 14 000 people for the MYPP by 2015.

Adoption of Committee Strategic Plan; Committee Report on Netherlands Study Tour and minutes
Minutes for the 19 May 2011 were adopted.

The Committee’s Strategic Plan for 2011-2014 was adopted.

The Committee Report on the Study Tour to the Netherlands was adopted.

The meeting was adjourned.


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