Minister on Department of Social Development performance report: April - September 2013

Social Development

17 February 2014
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Social Development presented a review of its performance from April to September 2013. The Minister gave input. The Committee appeared very satisfied with both the Department’s work and presentation. The bulk of the Department’s total budget (R60bn) goes on social grants (R56bn). The Minister said that social grants alone cannot foster social development. New strategies, including a drive to recruit retired social workers and social workers employed other than in the state, are planned or operational, mostly in the 1 300 wards identified as most poverty stricken by Stats SA but also including the peripheries of major cities.

Questions were asked about monitoring and evaluation of NPOs; why had the performance report not provided detail about which programmes had not been achieved and could not a more detailed progress report be provided?. Could the unused employee compensation not be used to recruit and train much-needed social workers? Were the 1300 poorest wards included in the data on Zero Hunger/Food For All in the presentation? Was the electronic register of elder abusers running? The point was made that although the target for adoptions had been more than met (735), over two million South African children needed homes. How many people had been screened against the Child Protection Register (CPR)? What was the status of amendments to the Children’s Act? When would the challenge of lack of capacity be overcome and social workers needed to be instilled with the ‘new dynamic'

Meeting report

The Chairperson, Ms Y Botha, had sent apologies and  Ms N Khunou (ANC) was elected as Chairperson.  welcomed the Minister, Ms Bathabile Dlamini, and the delegation from the Department of Social Development (DSD).

Performance Trends for the period April – September 2013
Key priorities were to promote Early Childhood Development (ECD); expand child and youth care services; combat substance abuse; provide food to poor households and promote and protect of rights of older persons’ rights. In the two quarters reported on, the Department completely met 64% and 50% of its targets. (20% and 21% were in progress.)

The implementation of the Department’s programmes was affected by the following challenges: limited capacity due to the termination of service by many senior managers; the Inspectorate for social security not yet being fully fledged or operational; delays created by other institutions with which the Department works; and lack of timely reporting by some provinces.

First and second quarter expenditure
DSD’s budget was being reprioritised, based on key priority areas: Active Ageing; Youth mobilization; Gender-based violence; Extending the Social Development Footprint (Mikondzo); and Social Development/October month activities

Continued budget pressures were cited as insufficient budget allocation versus wide scope of responsibilities; increasing demand for services versus declining resources; and a shortage of social workers, resulting in inability to provide statutory services as required by specific legislation such as Children’s Act and Older Persons Act.

Generally, the Department had neither over nor underspent its budget in a significant way.

The Minister added that the Department was auditing Early Childhood Development centres. Those which did not meet minimum standards were being supported, with an ‘adopt an ECD centre’ mobilisation plan for all South Africans, and other strategies. There was a new Deputy Director General for Social Security with a specific brief of improving the processing of appeals. Most appeals were delayed because documents were not submitted. Non-profit organisations (NPOs) governance remained a challenge but those struggling were trained and incubated. Funding for the only two provinces without alcohol and substance abuse centres was likely to be granted. There was major focus on providing food, and parenting and food gardening skills and support to those in the 1 300 poorest wards identified by Stats SA. The peripheries of big cities in Gauteng and the Western Cape were also identified as having high levels of poverty and so these were also included in the Department’s focus.

Discussion
The Chairperson thanked the Department for an excellent presentation as did the Members who followed her.

Ms P Xaba (ANC) said that monitoring and evaluation had not been mentioned in the context of NPOs. She named one which, she said, had directed public donations to friends and family.

Mr V Magagula (ANC) said that the report had not mentioned which programmes had not been achieved. With regard to finance, it had been mentioned that some senior posts were vacant. Would funds for this employee compensation revert to Treasury? Was it not possible to use this to recruit and train social workers?

Mr M Waters (DA) also wanted details on the programmes not achieved. Were the 1300 poorest wards included in the data on Zero Hunger/Food For All in the presentation? He wanted a more detailed progress report. Also, was the electronic register of elder abusers running. He noted that although the target for adoptions had been more than met (735), more than two million South African children needed homes. How many people had been screened against the Child Protection Register (CPR)? What was the status of amendments to the Children’s Act?

Ms F Khumalo (ANC) said that lack of capacity was regularly cited as a challenge. When would this be overcome?

The Chairperson asked how many NPOs were being funded and for how much. Were they monitored? She had experienced similar problems to the one described by Ms Xaba. She too, like Mr Waters, felt that the report had covered failures insufficiently. Were the 1 300 impoverished wards part of what were in previous years referred to as nodal points? Was South Africa improving with respect to having a grant-dependent society. Food gardens were a good idea, what other initiatives were being implemented.

The Minister said that more provinces funded NPOs because they implemented welfare services, but the Department did fund some. They were monitored ‘on transformation’, ‘on the ground’. The national Department had certain requirements before NPOs could register, and therefore work. Road shows had been conducted in all provinces this year because it was found that NPOs did not submit annual reports. The national Department helped NPOs to register and was in the process of moving responsibility for some NPO registration to provinces. In some provinces, such as Limpopo, employment for women was largely dependent on NPOs. The Minister said that the relationship between national, provincial and local government had to be good for all the above to be effective. The strategies employed in 2010 and 2011 were found to be insufficiently effective in 2012. Accessibility to social development was a challenge and structural differences remained. A bigger programme that focused on more people was needed but this was impossible so the 1300 wards identified by Stats SA were identified as a priority. Stats SA had considered Gauteng and the Western Cape as sufficiently wealthy but there were many migrants living in squalor on the peripheries of urban settlements there. Former Bantustans were a problem, as were seasonal workers’ families. Communities in these areas faced a host of problems from alcohol and substance abuse to abuse of women and children. The programme to address all of these problems was named Mikondzo. An example of the causes of the previous strategy’s ineffectuality was, for instance, that a social worker was limited to 3000 kilometres a month of subsidised travel. A social worker in the Northern Cape, for example, could not be effective with this constraint. The Minister would like the Department to present to the Committee a report on how child-centred households were monitored.

The Minister said that Child Support Grants (CSGs) and the Expanded Public Works Programme were insufficient to take families forward. The CSG was not a silver bullet and a social wage was needed. Integrated development was needed and provincial and local government needed to be strengthened. Some provinces had used the budget for social workers elsewhere. To address the shortage of social workers and the weakness of social work the Department had put out a call for veteran social workers to return to state employment. The Department was working with the University of KwaZulu Natal to contextualise problems. Social workers had to be revolutionary and dynamic.

Mr Peter Netshabile, Deputy Director General:Integrated Development, said that the Department implemented the NPO Act by, for instance, licensing NPOs. There were 117 093 on the database, of which 40% provided social services. The average registration period was two weeks. Compliance was increasing and 78% were immediately compliant. Outreach and road shows had been carried out to increase correct submission of reports and this had helped. The policy on financial awards was being used by all provinces as a guide. Each provincial office also monitored NPOs. He asked for details of the errant NPOs mentioned earlier to be forwarded to him for follow up.

Mr Buthelezi, in response to the allegation that failures and challenges had been insufficiently covered in the presentation, drew the Committee’s attention to the slides covering household profiling, assessment of community based care, ECD, and care dependency grants, among others. He felt that the presentation had been balanced. If an NPO was found to be non compliant, help and support was provided. In some cases, non-compliance was as minor as missing a line in a report, in which case a phone call would suffice.

Mr Clifford Appel, Chief Financial Officer, said that R73m was disbursed nationally for NPO funding.

Ms Connie Nxumalo, DDG: Social Services, said that an electronic register for the protection of older people was complete, training had been provided and would go live in the following month. Addressing the few adoptions, Ms Nxumalo said that the Department promoted adoption and there were registers of would be adoptive parents and children needing adoption. Second amendments to the Children’s Act would be delivered in the current financial year. Inputs were being consolidated. There were eight state substance abuse treatment centres. North West province had only a hospital ward and Treasury had allocated R150m for more to be built. There were 488 people on the Child Protection Register (CPR). It needed to be interfaced with the Sexual Offences Register, which involved collaboration with the Department of Justice and amendments to existing legislation in which clauses on confidentiality were problematic. In addition to food gardens, training in entrepreneurship and running co-operatives was being piloted because, although there were grants for children, the problem was that there were too many able-bodied unemployed adults who were ineligible for grants in many children’s households.

Responding to Ms Khumalo’s comment on lack of capacity often being cited as an impediment to delivery, the Minister said that the Department’s mandate had previously been dealing with deviance but its currently led the fight against poverty, that is, its mandate had expanded. To address the social ills of endemic poverty, violence and substance abuse, the interventions in addition to social grants had been briefly discussed. To address the quality, competence and readiness of personnel in the context of needs, the Services Improvement Plan, drawn up in consultation with the University of KZN and utilising Mikondzo, would shortly go to Treasury. ECD training and centres aimed to provide children with food, stimulation and services such as health. With all these needs, lack of capacity would remain for some time.

Ms Xaba wished for Mikondzo to be deployed in Ivory Park in Gauteng.

Ms Khumalo wished the Department success in its endeavours to recruit social workers. She had visited women’s co-ops making school uniforms in rural areas and thanked the Minister for that programme. She hoped that trained, tried and tested social workers would be instilled with the ‘new dynamic’.

The Chairperson said that some communities were not transformed and compliance was key. The co-ordination of the Department’s work with other Departments, and communication with other spheres of government, was commendable. She would like details on children in need who were not eligible for adoption.

DSD responded that the South African Social Services Agency (SASSA) bought food,  whenever possible, from small, emerging farmers, that is, they tried to alleviate poverty and generate income simultaneously.

Ms Nxumalo said that recruitment of social workers and adoption remained challenges. Social workers needed an orientation programme and the curriculum needed review. A skills enhancement centre was envisaged. She would circulate the guidelines on adoption.

Mr Netshipale said that there would be an NPO summit and dialogue in all nine provinces with foci on the regulatory framework; focus areas of NPOs; transformation; capacity building; and funding (which mostly went to cities). There would be a transformation charter to improve access to services.

The Minister thanked the Members for their inputs. She repeated that the starting point for social workers in the next financial year would be simple: approach, confidentiality and trust. As there were not enough social workers, every social worker had to be accountable for the work he or she had done. With regard to skills training, many agencies had invited the Department to send people for training and the Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority had been training too. Visits by the South African National Council (SANAC) had been informative and convinced them that substance abuse prevention was more effective than cure. Likewise, South Africa had been visited by social development stakeholders from other countries and its work was appreciated. Regarding SASSA, co-operatives and small farmers, some sellers were middlemen rather than food producers, which was not acceptable and had to be monitored. In South Africa. Co-operatives tended to crash. The Department tried to use agencies like the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for innovation, in the Eastern Cape for example.

The Chairperson thanked the Department delegation for their time, adding that they had learnt a lot. The Committee would monitor and bring to DSD's attention what was not working.

After the delegation’s departure, the Committee adopted its Report on Department of Social Development,  South African Social Services Agency (SASSA) and National Development Agency 2012/13 Annual Reports, with minor amendments.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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