A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
SOCIAL SERVICES SELECT COMMITTEE
3 June 2003
CHILD SUPPORT GRANT: BRIEFING
Chairperson: Mr L Jacobus
ACESS network Presentation (Appendix 2)
Child Support Grant Fact Sheet (Appendix 4)
Florence and Sibusiso Mahlangu Presentation (Appendix 3)
Mahlangu Family from Gamothle village in North West Powerpoint Presentation
The Committee heard that only 2.7 million children out of a population of 14,3 million that qualify receive the Child Support Grant. People on the ground were often unaware that the phased-in implementation was only available for children up to nine years old. The house indicated that it appealed to the Department of Home Affairs to scale down on the requirements for access to the Child Support Grant facility in order to lessen the burden of those most vulnerable. The house called for a strong inter-departmental co-ordination to avoid a situation where the Child Support Grant funds were used to pay for services in another department. The Chair suggested that those who were eligible to the Child Support Grant facility be exempted from paying school fees among other services provided by the government.
The Chair opened the meeting by informing the house that this particular session was held at the request of ACESS network to assist members understand what had taken place on the implementation of the Child Support Grant (CSG).
New Women's Movement on Child Support Grant
Ms Darlin Twala informed the Committee that the New Women's Movement (NWM) had been running a campaign over the past fours years to improve the Child Support Grant (CSG) provisions for children. People on the ground were unaware that the phased-in implementation was only available for children up to nine years. She lamented the fact that children who were eight years and ten months could only get the grant for two months, then they only had to apply again the following year in April. She decried the understaffing in the Department of Social Development on which she blamed the poor services delivery to the people. Women often walked a long distance early in the morning to queue in the dark a situation, she complained, that exposed them to the danger of being raped. Her movement demands the extension of the CSG to children under fourteen at the present and that a clear timeframe be set for the implementation of the extension of the CSG to all children up to the age of eighteen years.
The Chair noted that the problems raised by the NMW were precisely the same the Committee had brought to the attention of the Department and in particular the vexing problem of child headed households. She said that the house would like to know from the Minister how Children who were not in the system were going to benefit from the CSG facility. The issue of age was also raised noting that it was only logical for a child who was not at school to benefit from the grant. She however noted that the Committee was very much alert to the financial constraints that informs the phase-in program.
Ms Themba (ANC) asked if the NWM has representation throughout other provinces or is only confined to the Western Cape.
Ms Twala replied that the NWM was confined to the Western Cape but that they pay visits to other provinces to see what was going on there noting that the problems were very much the same.
Ms Mashangoane (ANC) said that during the constituency week members were faced with the very same issues the Chair has alluded to. She added that during the Constituency visits members made an appeal to Home Affairs officials to scale down on the requirements for access to the CSG facility in order to lessen the burden of those most vulnerable.
Ms Twala applauded members for appealing to Home Affairs to scale down on bureaucratic red-tape noting that indeed this was the most problematic area.
Ms Gous (DP) asked how strong the NWM was in terms of membership and regional spread.
Ms Twala replied that she did not have the numerical number for members but that her organisation had more than 20 branches spread out in the Western Cape.
Mr Sogoni (ANC) sought clarity on the requirement for a title deed and wondered why this document was a pre-requisite for one to access the CSG facility.
Ms Twala explained that the title deed was needed to ascertain the financial status of the applicant.
Ms Khunou (ANC) asked what NWM did to stop parents from diverting the CSG to other personal activities.
Ms Twala said that her organisation advocated for the proper use of the CSG in its respective areas and that they strived to help the government monitor and stop the abuse of the financial assistance to the child. Her organisation had even provided free buses to enable women to access the CSG pay-points.
The Chair noted that there was an urgent need for a strong inter-departmental co-ordination to avoid a situation where the CSG funds were used to pay for services in another department. She suggested that those who were eligible for the CSG facility be exempted from paying school fees among other services provided by the government.
Child institute UCT - Ms Solange Rosa
Ms Solange, a researcher with the Child Institute UCT informed the Committee that people were turned away from the Social Services offices due to a lack of capacity and confusion as to what the new regulations actually meant. She also pointed out that it was not helpful to register an eight year old child when such a child would fall off the system before the 1st April 2004. She noted that the new policy implied that each year approximately 500,000 children would have to be registered twice noting that this situation contributed to the transport and other costs that care givers had to incur every time they had to register a child.
Ms Solange pointed out that all the confusion and disadvantages to caregivers and children could be avoided if the government took a decision to immediately extend the CSG to all children under 14. She also asked the government to commit itself to a reasonable timeframe for the extension of the grant to all children who are under 18 years. Only 2.7 million children out of a population of 14,3 million that qualify received the CSG and called on the Committee to help formulate policies and programmes that would help to reach as many children as possible in the short space of time.
Ms Florence and Sibusiso Mahlangu - an applicant for the CSG
Ms Sibusiso informed the Committee that she heard about the CSG on the radio Inkhwenkhwezi in April of 2003. She said that she immediately called the relevant authorities to confirm whether she qualified to apply for the grant and that the response was positive. She then narrated how her efforts to access the grant were frustrated by the conflicting information she was given by officials of the Department of Social Services. Her plight was aired on the national TV and officials from the Northwest Provincial offices intervened to state that she qualified for the grant. She was later informed that her disabled daughter did not qualify for the grant until she turned 18.
The Chair observed that confusion over policy decision was a disturbing phenomenon, which must be addressed by the Department immediately. She asked ACESS to forward to Committee members the details of the case studies it had presented so that a follow up is made accordingly. It was important for the Department to come clean on who qualified for the grant so as to avoid confusion among the beneficiaries.
Ms Themba noted that the story of Ms Sibusiso was a very touchy one and decried the intolerant attitude on the part of departmental officials, which she said must be addressed as a matter of urgency. She asked for details on the case studies so that members of the Committee could handle them through their respective constituency offices.
Ms Khunou associated herself with the views expressed by Ms Themba that the experience of Ms Sibusiso was indeed a sad one, which should not have been allowed to happen in the first place. She called on members to ensure through the oversight mandate that officials on the ground implement the policy decision that were taken at the national level.
Mr Sogoni said that he was in agreement with the suggestion made by the Chair that the Committee needed to sit with the Department and confront them with the issues that had been raised in the meeting with a view to getting their side of the story.
Ms Vilakazi pointed out that the problem that had been detailed was not confined to Northwest alone but that the level of service delivery among the officials on the ground was most deplorable all over the country. She called on the Department to do something about the attitude of the food soldiers that came in daily contact with the people.
Ms Gous concurred with members that the story that had been narrated was a most touchy one and called on the house to call the Department to account for this unacceptable quality of service delivery.
Ms Mashanguane also concurred with the views expressed by members noting that the spirit of ubuntu was lacking in the manner the Department was delivering services and that something needed to be done urgently to save people from further suffering.
Ms Solange promised to make a detailed case study report and give it to members as requested. The study captured most cases in Mpumalanga due to the fact that this was where the feedback came from after a radio show that was run in that area. Officials on the ground did not often understand national policies, which normally took long to be communicated to them. She added that the Department was also severely understaffed a situation which results in the few personnel being forced to prioritise on cases and have resorted to making ad hoc administrative rules to assist them in this regard.
The Chair noted that indeed during the budgetary hearings most departments reported that Human Resources was one of the challenges they had to grapple with a question which she had posed to the Minister during the budget vote. Service departments should be exempted from the hiring moratorium that had been dumped on the public service noting that an expansive province like the Eastern Cape operated at only 40% capacity while Mpumanalga is at 60%. She said that although members would intervene on specific cases during their oversight work, this was an unacceptable stop gap measure since service delivery should be available to everyone at all times. She agreed with ACESS that at times it took a long time for changes in government policy to reach the implementing officers on the ground. She proposed that another meeting be arranged with the Minister to address some of these problems.
The meeting was adjourned.
The problems with the phased in approach to the extension of the child support grant to age 14
Presentation by ACESS to the NCOP Select Committee on Social Services
3 June 2003
Introduction to ACESS
ACESS, the Alliance for Children's Entitlement to Social Security, is a national alliance of over 400 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), community-based organizations (CBOs), and faith-based organizations (FBOs). The Alliance was established to engage in a coordinated way with social security policy and law reform processes to ensure children's survival, development and protection.
ACESS members believe that all children should be able to benefit from a comprehensive social security system. The system must enable all children to survive and develop to their full potential. The system must provide social assistance, adequate food, water and sanitation, healthcare, education, and protection from abuse and neglect.
The announcement to extend the CSG to age 14 years
On the 14th February 2003, ACESS celebrated the announcement by the State President to progressively extend the Child Support Grant (CSG) to poor children up to the age of 14 years. This announcement was a historic moment for the children of this country. The 400 member organizations of ACESS have been working and campaigning for an extension of this grant to all children for the past 5 years.
The Child Support Grant was introduced in 1998, and has been limited to very poor children under 7. The state's primary child poverty alleviation programme now reaches 2, 7 million of South Africa's 14,3 million poor children.
When the grant was introduced there was a clear commitment by the State to progressively extend the cut off age beyond 7. The Social Assistance Act of 1992 clearly provides a section that enables the Minister of Social Development to increase the cut off age. This commitment was made in the face of widespread unhappiness that the grant would terminate at age 7.
It is now nearly six years later and the first step to realising this commitment was taken in February this year when the President announced Cabinet's final decision to extend the grant to children under 14 years of age.
When the announcement was made, ACESS immediately started thinking of how to help ensure that the new policy was implemented quickly. However, when we heard that the extension would be phased in over a three year period using age as the determining factor, we were very disappointed. From our member's direct experiences of the complicated and difficult application processes we knew that the phased approach would cause a number of problems. As predicted, these problems are manifesting across the country, especially in the provinces with the highest poverty problems.
We set up a help-line monitoring system to get the details of the problems. Caregivers reporting problems are assured of the national policy line, the details of their cases are recorded and they are assisted to access their grants.
Our monitoring system essentially gathers information to answer the following questions:
- Are children under 9 years able to access their Child Support Grants?
- What happens when a child with a CSG turns 9 before 1 April 2004?
- What about caregivers with children aged 9 to 14 years?
So far our monitoring has revealed the following problems
The problems being experienced by care givers
1) Provincial Social Development offices are not all applying the national policy
We are receiving reports of provinces deviating from the national policy and refusing to register children under 9 for various reasons.
In Mpumalanga, we are receiving reports of the officials saying that the policy is to register only those children who were previously getting the grant but lost it when the turned 7. Therefore 7 and 8 year olds who were never registered for the grant are turned away despite being eligible in terms of the law because they are under 9.
In the North West, Mpumalanga, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Eastern Cape and Limpopo, we are receiving reports of officials turning away children who are eight years old.
Case Alert: The Story of Maropeng of Ingwavuma in Kwazulu Natal
Twelve-year-old Maropeng lives with his very ill and unemployed mother and eight-year-old brother Sipho. They do not get any form of assistance from the Government. However, Maropeng's brother, who is 8 years old, does qualify for the child support grant.
"There is no food and no money at home," says Maropeng. "We are so hungry we have no time to go to school because we have to go and look for food in the neighbourhood."
"My mother tried to register Sipho for the children's grant early this year. But she was told he [Sipho] does not qualify," said Maropeng.
"Sometimes the neighbours give us some food if we do jobs for them like fetch water for them or chop wood and bring it to them. We hope the government can do something for us because we are suffering," said Maropeng.
Despite the fact that Sipho qualifies for the child support grant as amended early this year, his mother was turned away several times by officials saying he will only qualify next year.
If Government had taken a decision to immediately extend the child support grant to all children under 14 years this year, at least Maropeng and his younger brother would be able to buy food for their family with the income from the grants.
Case Alert: Nomsa Mogabudi from Bethal in Mpumalanga
Nomsa Mogabudi phoned us after officials in Bethal told her that her eight year old son, Bonginkosi who was born in 16 July 1994 does not qualify for a Child Support Grant. Despite Nomsa repeatably telling the official that she is legally entitled to the grant, she has been turned away twice since we published her story in April.
Case Alert: Sara Mokwena from KwaNdebele in Mpumalanga
Thoko Mkhwanazi pays just over ten rands from Kwamhlanga Township in Kwandebele to social services offices in Kwakga. She's been to the social services offices more times than she can count. Every time she is told that her 8-year-eight-month old daughter, Sara Mokwena who was born on 25 August 1994, will only qualify for the child support grant after the 1st of April 2004.
"I have explained to the officials that on the radio they said she [Sara] qualifies for the grant," says Mkhwanazi. "But they insist that she will only qualify next year."
She has used what ever she could get from doing domestic chores in the area to pay for transport to the city, only to be told that her daughter does not qualify for the child support grant. Although she insisted that she heard on a radio interview that all children under nine years do qualify for the CSG, the officials were not aware of the new policy position.
In fact, according to Mkhwanazi many parents and caregivers of children in the area, born in 1994 and who are still eight years old are turned away everyday.
After follow ups through Case Alert, Mkhwanazi was finally given forms to register Sara for her long awaited grant. However, the officials in Kwakga have indicated that Sara's child support grant would be cut on her birthday in August and she will have to reregister next year 1st April.
CaseAlert: "Pay Day is Birthday, so no Child Support Grant": The story of Thembi Khumalo in Nelspruit (Mpumalanga)
Unemployed Thembi Khumalo is relying on friends and family members to provide for her eight-year-eleven-months son Simphiwe who was born on 4 June 1994. Simphiwe was getting the child support grant but was cut after reaching seven years two years ago.
After hearing on radio that all children under nine years should register for the grant, Khumalo went to register Simphiwe. All her hopes for an improved life for her son came crashing down when she was told that Simphiwe's child support grant would not be paid until next year 1st April 2004 because he is turning 9 years exactly on the payday for the first monthly installment of the child support grant of the child support grant (4 June) and would have to re-register again next year.
"I wanted to buy him a new school uniform and shoes," says Khumalo. "But that's not going happen this year."
However, Regulation 24 (2) (c) specifies, "A child support grant shall lapse - on the last day of the month in which the child in respect of whom the grant is paid attains the age of 9 years. "
Therefore, in terms of the law, she should be paid the CSG for the month of May as the grant only lapses on the last day of June. However, the officials have registered her but said that she will only receive the May 2003 payment when she re-registers on 1 April 2004.
The Story of Xolile Sibeko from Leslie in Mpumalanga
Xolile Sibeko is unemployed and earns a disability grant of R 700, that she has to share with her whole family. Her son Jabulane who was born in July 1995 will be turning 8 years this year.
But Shabangu has been told by officials in Leslie that Jabulane will only qualify for the child support grant next year because "it is only children who are under 8 years who qualify for the grant this year."
"I don't know what to do," said Sibeko. "On the radio they say we must go and register our children but the social workers are saying we must come next year." According to Sibeko there's a big sign in the offices which says "Only children under 8". "When you go there they just say didn't you see the sign on the door?."
"We just have to leave. The social workers don't have time to explain why you should come next year. If you keep on asking the people will shout at you and say you are wasting their time."
What is the policy position?
We phoned Fezile Makiwane, the Chief Director of Social Security in the National Department of Social Development and Mr Makiwane said: "the Department has issued a clear directive to all its officials across the country to register all children under nine years. All children who qualify for the child support grant as according to the new regulations can not be turned away in any social services offices for whatever reason".
Lesego Monama, of theGauteng Provincial Department of Social Development said, "the new policy position is that any child who is 8 years and less than twelve months does qualify for the child support grant".
According to Mr. N. J. Mabilo, Head of Social Development in the Mpumalanga Province, "the policy position from national to all provinces and social development officials is that all children under 9 years must be registered for the child support grant." "It is our duty as government to use all forms of communication to disperse the right information to our officials and to the people," he said. However, despite the fact that the new policy came into effect on 1 April 2003, it was only on the 23 and 24 of April that the Province had an Imbizo to devise a clear communication plan "to disperse the information as widely as possible to both government officials and parents in the province." Mabilo also undertook to issue a circular in the next weeks and meet with all head of social services offices in the province to devise mechanisms of training and informing all officials, "especially on the new regulations and dealing with parents and caregivers in a proper manner."
According to Mbulelo Musi, a spokesperson for the Department of Social Development "The Department started the extension of the CSG immediately after the President's announcement." A few days after that the Minister issued a clear directive and met with all MECs and Heads of Social Development to fast track the registration of all children under 9 years, and it is the duty of each Province to make sure that they register these children regardless of whether they have the capacity or not. Come 31st March next year, each Province will have to account to the Minister as to why they didn't register children under 9."
When we asked in the beginning of May about a National Communication Strategy on the extension of the CSG, Musi said "the Department and GCIS are working on a comprehensive communication plan which is in final stages."' We recently requested a copy of the communications strategy and the circular/directive that was sent to the provinces but were informed by Musi and Mabilo that the document was confidential.
The Department's website has a procedure manual for officials that clearly says that children under 9 do qualify for the extended grant.
Why are people being turned away?
We have been given a number of reasons:
- lack of capacity
- confusion as to what the new regulations actually mean (this was why we requested a copy of the communications strategy and the directive/circular in order to see how the regulations were being communicated, interpreted, explained)
- its not worth registering an 8 year old if they will fall off the system before 1 April 2003
What are ACESS members doing to help clear up the confusion?
- distributing posters and grants books across the country in partnership with the Department. These media appear in at least 4 languages and clearly specify that children under 9 do qualify.
- organised road shows and registration campaigns in partnership with the Departments of Social Development and Home Affairs
- organised and participated in a number of radio jamborees and talk shows to spread the word and answer queries
- assisted with the development of a series of Public Service Announcements that provide information on the extension
- Soul City and Soul Buddyz TV, radio and print media are also spreading the word
- We ensure that our 400 members, mainly CBOs working with children in poverty, are kept updated through the distribution of Case Alert. Our members than spread the word further.
2) Children who are registered this year but turn 9 years before 1 April 2004, fall off the system and will need to register again on 1 April 2004
Each year, approximately 500 000 children will have to be registered twice.
This adds to the transport and other costs that care givers have to incur every time they register a child. They now have to incur double the costs.
It also adds work to officials who are bearing heavy workloads already.
The fact that many 8 year olds will fall off the system before next year is potentially one of the reasons why officials are reluctant to even bother registering children who are older than 8 and a half. The following case demonstrates this point.
Case Alert: Asanda Magxala of Manyano Township in the Eastern Cape
Asanda turned 9 on 25 May 2003 and this means that she won't qualify for the CSG.
Asanda Magxala's father died of a short illness in December 2002. She's living with her mother who earns just over R 500 per month in a factory at Mzamohle Township in the Eastern Cape.
After hearing that 8 year old Asanda will now qualify for the child support grant, Asanda's mother went to social services at Indwe to register her for the child support grant. But her hopes were dashed when social services officials told her that Asanda will only qualify for the child support grant next year after 1st April because she was turning 9 on 25 May 2003.
"I have to raise four children," says her mother. "I had hoped that the R160 for Asanda's grant will add to my R 500 and probably make things a little better for us."
"But they [officials] are saying we have to wait until next year. How are we going to live until next year?," said her mother.
According to the new Regulations, Asanda did qualify for the child support grant when her mother went to make an application for the child support grant because she was less than nine years old at the time of application. However because her birthday was on the 25 of May 2003 and she would soon be 9 years olds, the officials turned her away. Asanda will have to wait until next year to register for the child support grant.
3)The need and expectations are high and the new policy position has not been clearly communicated to the public
The announcement of the intention to extend to 14 was first made after the ANC Policy Conference in September 2002. The decision was confirmed at the ANC National Congress in December 2003. The final decisions were then made by Cabinet and announced in the President's speech.
With expectations raised and the need being so desperate, many people thought that the grant was already available for children under 14 and started queuing.
Case Alert: Winnie Leyane from Pienaar in Nelspruit (Mpumalanga)
Winnie Leyane from Pienaar (KaDantjie) in Nelspruit was only told after queuing for a week that her 9-year-old son Joseph, who was born in 1993, will only qualify for the child support grant from the 1st of April 2004."These people gave me a number and let me queue for a week," she says. "Then they tell me that I must come next year."
It is estimated that over 300 parents and caregivers flock to the only social services offices in the area of a population of over 2 million (including from Luphisi, Mpakeni, and Spelanyane) - everyday to register for the child support grant.
"I've been waking up at 4 for the whole week. Most of these people [the caregivers] are turned away because we don't know what's the right age," says Leyane.
"All the papers that they give us are written in English and we can't read. We don't know if they [the social workers] are telling the truth or not because some people are saying it's all children under 14," added Leyane
Case Alert: Delsile and Khanyisile Nkosi (Mpumalanga)
Maria Mambane and her husband Jan Nkosi are both unemployed. They live on "small monies" and offerings earned by Nkosi from doing piecemeal jobs in the area. Had the government taken a decision to extend the child support grant to all children under 14 years this year, their lives could have been better off with two grants for Delsile who is 12 years and Khanyisile who is 13 years old, totalling R320.
The government current policy to progressively extend the child support grant to children under 14 starting with children under 9 as of 1st April 2003, children under 11 as of 1st April 2004 and children under 14 as of 1st April 2005, means that these two children will never see the light of the CSG and as a result could be deprived of any chance of finishing their education and gaining other opportunities for a better life.
Twenty days too late for Child Support Grant: The story of Busi Shabangu from Bronkhospruit in Mpumalanga
Busi Shabangu, a single mother of two in Bronkhospruit at Enkangala, earns a mere R250 per month from a firm in the area. She is struggling and often relies on family friends for providing for her two daughters and unemployed husband.
One of the two children Zanele who was born on 10 March in 1994 just missed the child support grant by twenty days. According to the new three-year-implementation plan on the extension of the child support grant Zanele has to wait until 1st April 2004 to qualify for the child support grant. "I don't understand why I have to wait until next year just because of twenty days", says Shabangu.
"The government said all children must register for this grant. Now they [the officials] are saying I must come next year."
"At school they want textbooks, calculators and I have to make sure that they eat every day with what I can get. It's difficult. I don't understand this," added Shabangu.
As ACESS, we believe that:
All the confusion and disadvantage to caregivers and children could be avoided if
Government took a decision to immediately extend the child support grant to
all children under 14 and committed to a reasonable timeframe for the extension
of the grant to all children under 18 years.
While government is deliberating on the new social security system and considers the above recommendation:
(Cabinet is considering the Committee of Inquiry Report in July and a number of social security of social security related policy and law reform processes are underway):
There is an urgent need for a clear communication strategy on the new policy position.
The messages should be widely distributed in all forms of media in different languages to both government officials and caregivers/parents across the country,
A policy decision should be taken that once a child has been registered for a CSG, they do not fall off the system until they reach age 14 years. This would also avoid the unnecessary bureaucratic process of registering a child three times before they reach 14 and causing unnecessary costs to parents/caregivers. This is in effect what will happen to most children aged 8 who turn 9 years before 1 April 2004.
Provinces with large rural populations need extra support to implement the extension. Social workers in rural areas are struggling with very large populations of people to provide grants and food parcels to.
Thank-you for the opportunity to present to you. We hope that you will help to ensure that the 14, 3 million poor children in South Africa go to bed at night with at least one meal a day. With only 2, 7 million currently receiving the CSG, we have a long road ahead of us and we therefore call for policies and programmes that are designed to reach as many children as possible in a short space of time.
Florence and Sibusiso Mahlangu's story
3 June 2003
Presented to the NCOP Select Committee on Social Services
My name is Florence Mahlangu and I am a domestic worker. I live at Gamothle village near Pretoria and I have been living there for the past 16 years. I have three children namely one daughter and two boys. My first-born daughter is disabled and is a registered student at a school for the disabled called Philadelphia in Pretoria. My two boys attend school at Mothle Primary School.
My eldest daughter is 15 years old, my second born is 11 years old and my last born is 8 years old. Sibusiso was born on the 29th of August 1994. He used to get the Child Support Grant until he turned 7 and fell of the system. He turned 7 in 2001 and payment was stopped in July before his 7th birthday.
My husband is unemployed and has been unemployed for the past six years. This means that I am the sole provider in my household. I earn R1000 a month and I have to take care of the rest of my family from this money. I struggle to cope with my financial responsibilities every month. I spend R 116 per month on transport. I then have to spend money on groceries and cosmetics. This is about R300 or R400 per month. I also have to buy electricity, which runs out at times. I buy electricity for R50 which is supposed to last for the month. To make sure that the electricity lasts for the whole month, I have to switch the refrigerator off. When the electricity is low on the meter, I cook outside. I also pay R225 per month for my disabled daughter's school fees. So far I have not paid my other children's school fees. After I have finished paying my daughter's fees, I will start to pay for the two boys fees.
I heard about the Child Support Grant on the Radio Inkhwenkhwezi in April of 2003. This was a program where Zama Mvulane from ACESS was talking about the Grants. As I understood there were four different kinds of grants of which I qualified for the CSG for my youngest son and the CDG grant for my disabled daughter. At the end of the radio show, a contact number was provided for the listeners to get more information.
Here after I immediately called the number to confirm if I qualified for the grant. It was confirmed to me that two of my children did qualify for the grants. My oldest disabled daughter and my youngest son.
After getting this information I went to the Social Development Offices. I spent R8,50 to get there and another R8,50 to go back home I was asked to provide them with me and my husband's ID books, our marriage certificate and my son's birth certificate. After looking at my documents, I was told that a child born in 1994 does not qualify for the grant. I then told them that from what I heard on the Radio, all children under 9 years qualify for the Child Support Grant. They then told me that they were busy registering children born in 1995. They also told me that they would only be registering children born in 1994 form next year. They told me that there was nothing they can do about it.
After I was told that my youngest son Sibusiso does not qualify, I then called Zama Mvulane to tell him about what had happened. Zama then told me that that the media people from SABC would be contacting me soon about my story. After the TV interview I did not go back but I was then told by Zama that the North West Provincial Office had sent a fax saying that Sibusiso did qualify.
After being told that my application was successful, I went back to the Social Development Offices. This cost me R17. When I arrived there I was told a different story from my first visit there. The officials then told me that every child born between January 1994 and August 1994 qualify for the grant. Those born from September 1994 do not qualify. (This meant that Sibusiso did qualify because he was born on the 29th of August).
On the 19th I was then given a form to fill in my bank details so that the money can be paid into my bank account. I returned the form with my bank details on the 26th of May (R17). An appointment was then scheduled to have my fingerprints taken on the 9. I have to go back for my finger prints to be taken. After that I will have to wait for three months to receive my first payment.
I also showed them my disabled daughter's birth certificate upon which I was asked to bring her so that they could see her. I then took my daughter to the Social Development Offices so that the officials could see her. I was given doctors forms which I filled in. After finishing the filling out of the forms we were told to wait outside for an assessment to be done. I was then called in after a few hours to be told what had been decided.
I was told that my disabled daughter did not qualify for the grant either and that I had to wait until she turned 18. They explained to me that my daughter could think for herself, is going to school, walks on her own, she did not qualify for the grant. I was told that the grants were only given to those disabled children who could do nothing for them selves. I have to pay a yearly school fees of 1900, which I find very difficult to cope with I told them that I came to them because I find it very difficult to cope with my financial situation.
One of the officials told me about a bursary called the Thabo Mbeki bursary for disabled children's school fees. I was given a name and contact details of a Mr Peter Mathews who was a Cordinator for DPSA. Upon making contact with him he told me that he will find me a sponsor to help with my daughter's fees for this year. So far I have not received any money at all, but Mr Mathews has promised to keep trying.
CHILD SUPPORT GRANT FACT SHEET
PHASED IN EXTENSION OF CHILD SUPPORT GRANT UP TO 14 YEARS
The Alliance for Children's Entitlement to Social Security has been calling for the extension of the Child Support Grant ('CSG') to cover ALL children up to the age of 18, as the first phase to a Basic Income Grant for everyone. It is the constitutional right of everyone to have access to appropriate social assistance if they are unable to support themselves and their dependants.
In the State of the Nation address this year, the State President finally announced that the CSG will be extended to eligible children under the age of 14. This is in line with the decisions taken at both the ANC Policy Conference in September 2002 and the National Conference in December 2002. ACESS members were overjoyed at this victory, as some have been fighting for wider coverage for many years.
But the thrill was short-lived. Shortly thereafter, the Minister for Social Development, announced that the extension to 14 years would be 'phased in' over the next 3 years. A plan for phasing in the extension is now laid down in the Regulations to the Social Assistance Act.
According to the Regulations, the CSG will be extended progressively over three years to cover children under the age of 14.
As of 1 April 2003, children under 9 qualify.
As of 1 April 2004, children under 11 will qualify.
As of 1 April 2005, children under 14 will qualify.
[Government Gazette No. 24630, 31 March 2003]
Impact of Phased-in Social Grants Programme
The phased-in plan was intended to bring clarity to the implementation of the extension of the child support grant to children under 14 years. However, much confusion still abounds due to the regulations being unclear, a lack of effective communication of the phased-in extension to communities and to social security officials in the provinces.
Since the announcement of the phased-in extension, ACESS has been monitoring the impact of the implementation of the extension on the ground. ACESS has received many reports of massive confusion around the implementation plan amongst applicants and officials alike.
Problems with the phased-in scheme include the following:
The primary caregiver and their children have to travel back and forth to the nearest Social Development Office - which may not be so near - to register for grants according to this scheme. Families have to bear these extra, unnecessary costs in transport, documentation provision, time and otherwise.
Welfare Departments in some provinces are taking their own decisions not to register children who are between eight and nine years old. In Provinces like Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, children "who are eligible in terms of the Regulations" are met with signs saying "Only children under 8" and officials who still insist that they will not register children who are over 8 but less than nine years because of "lack of capacity".
The Department has said that children who turn 9 before 1 April 2004 will fall off the system and their care givers will have to re-register them on 1 April 2004 when they again become eligible, meaning that caregivers will have to incur the extra cost, time and effort of registering their child twice.
Children who are currently 12 and 13 years old who will never see the light of the child support grant.
People are queuing in social services offices across the country to register 10 to 14 year olds because they do not know what is meant by the phased-in plan.
The following statements from people affected on the ground illustrate some of the problems and confusion that the phased-in approach has brought on the poor in local communities:
Administration and delivery of social grants by the Department of Social Development are already swamped with problems. These problems are being exacerbated and perpetuated by this complex and unreasonable phased-in scheme.
The impact of these problems on beneficiary's access to social assistance rights will range from high costs to beneficiaries, long queues in very uncomfortable conditions, delays in the approval and payment of grants, and unnecessary suspension and termination of grants.
Due to these problems, ACESS is calling on the Government to change the unreasonable phased-in policy and instead implement the extension to 14 years immediately.
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