The Minister of Social Development (Western Cape), expressed concern at the impact of the drought and the burning down of the Department’s facilities and cars, as this was adversely affecting service delivery, so there was a need for community involvement. Belts needed to be tightened so that projects could succeed, and it was in that light that the Department’s annual performance plan and budget should be looked at.
Members said they were worried about the provision of services by frontline social workers, as cases of abuse and bad attitudes were being reported. They asked why a Children’s Commissioner had not been appointed in light of the previous year’s brutal murders, and how far the far the Department had gone to address this matter.
The Department said it was making significant progress, even though there had been huge budget cuts. They expressed their commitment to quality service delivery, while championing the protection of children and senior citizens.
The Committee made recommendations that the Department should provide a briefing on the budget breakdown for youth programmes in the province, present the names of institutions that train the auxiliary social workers and how they worked with the DSD, give details of the entire youth development strategy, with a focus on youth cafes, and supply a list of residential drug and alcohol rehabilitationh centres in the metro. The DSD should have a workshop in Beaufort West in order to train people on non-governmental organisation funding applications.
The Chairperson said that they would be discussing the 2018/19 Annual Performance Plan (APP) of the Department of Social Development (DSD), and the first part would be on the foreword. The 2018 estimates of provincial revenue and expenditure would be the main focus for their questions.
Adv Albert Fritz, Provincial Minister of Social Development (Western Cape), said that it was important to have such a meeting due to the high importance of the DSD. There was concern over the impact of the drought and the burning of the Department’s facilities and cars, as it impacted on service delivery, so there was need for community involvement. Belts needed to be tightened so that projects could succeed, and it was in that light that the budget should be looked at.
Discussion on foreword
Ms M Gillion (ANC) asked the Member of the Executive Committee (MEC) for elaboration on the comment that there had been considerable progress, as captured in the APP’s foreword introductory phrase. She also asked for clarity on the major focus for the financial year, as captured in the second paragraph of the foreword.
Ms P Makeleni (ANC) asked how the 2 000 contracted non-profit organisations (NPOs) were being audited, and how they added value to the DSD. What was the contribution of youth cafes, and did the budget estimates address the intentions of these?
Ms D Gopie (ANC) asked about the major focus of the financials, and what techniques and tools were being used to ensure compliance and value for money. How would the MEC champion it?
The Chairperson asked if the goal in paragraph 2 of the foreword had been achieved, and what the details of its tangibles were. Was the Department confident that the frontline personnel shared their goals and practiced a new way of service delivery? She asked if the DSD was keeping a focus on monitoring and evaluation (M&E), and requested an example of how it was done before and currently.
Adv Fritz said that during the past three years they had been operating with financial constraints, but now they were thinking innovatively. The DSD had a clean audit, and it meant a lot for their compliance. The Department had worked strictly, and its core function was always focused on the Children’s Act, the Older Persons Act and the Substance Abuse Act, which determined what they had to do. The improvement was essentially due to the focus on the core elements.
There were still social workers who gave bad service in the inner Karoo, and this had been reported to the police. Service delivery was paramount, and it was impressive that they had united and rooted out some of the problems. The people must come first.
He said the Attorney General (AG) audited the 2 000 NPOs and made unannounced visits, as it was important for monitoring. Systemic methods had been implemented and there were people who were specialists doing M & E.
The youth cafes were being scrutinised as to the value they gave. The other option was to have smaller groups to manage, and the new focus for the year was creating work for young people. The unemployment rate was crippling development, and youths needed development and technical training, with less reliance on just college degrees.
He said a challenge was to keep their staff together all the time and maintain the service levels of frontline personnel. The mindset of the staff needed to change, and providing assistance should be a natural action. There should not be bad service.
Ms Gillion asked if the DSD had researched the outcomes of money used for the youth cafes, because the Committee needed to see the impact. Was there service delivery assistance with these projects? She asked why there had been no mention in the foreword about the brutal deaths of 30 young children in the province over the previous year. She asked how far the government had gone with the issue of the Children’s Commissioner (CC).
Mr D Mitchell (DA) said that the bureaucracy behind the compilation, and the tick box for funding, varied for different levels of institutions, and asked if the DSD had plans to assist NGOs in that area. Were the salaries of social workers being increased, and if there was value for money in the service, especially in the rural areas?
Ms P Makeleni (ANC) said she did not understand what the MEC meant by the phrase “significant rollout of youth cafes,” and asked for budgets and outcomes on the youth cafes.
The Chairperson said that it was not everybody who understood the role of frontline service providers. How did the DSD deal with complaints about the abuse and attitudes of the frontline service professionals?
Adv Fritz said that the majority of staff were doing a great job. There was a social worker who had been locked up for not doing her work, and that showed their seriousness in the quest for service delivery. They had fired others, and there was still a need for people to tell them about incidents of malpractice so the workers could be held accountable.
He would have a breakdown of the expenditures in the communities for the youth cafes. There was a need for proper costing, and they would do a full analysis.
Early Childhood Development (ECD) had been discussed with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) on the red tape at municipalities, and they were hoping it would get better.
The NGO social workers still earned far below what government social workers earned, and there were still more graduates that needed employment.
He said the focus on child protection was paramount. They had done research on the child killings, and the findings would be presented to the Committee so they could have substantive view.
The issue of the Children’s Commissioner (CC) was in the office of the Premier.
The youth development strategy was important, and there was an extensive look on what other departments were doing so that the rollout could be effective. Personal care programmes needed more monitoring
Ms Gillion said she expected the MEC to oversee the issue of the CC, and he had to put the pressure on the DSD and the Premier for this to be done.
Adv Fritz responded that it was important, and there was serious need for the CC to look at things on the ground, and they were pushing for this to happen soon.
Ms P Lekker (ANC) asked about the alcohol-related harms reduction policy, and to what extent the DSD had managed to raise awareness. What communities had been tested, and what was the will to extend the research to other departments? She asked for enlightenment on the manner in which frail and senior citizens had been assisted, the improvements in the NPOs and their services, and the monitoring of the NPOs that had been reported to have abused senior citizens.
Ms Gillion asked why there was no budget that explained how the DSD intended to fill the current vacancies. She asked about the Chief Director (CD) vacancy, and also the transformation of the DSD.
Adv Fritz replied that there was no money for the filling of vacancies. The funds for the CD post were being used for other purposes, and the roles were being split to manage costs. The youth budget would be broken down and they would make a presentation on it. A lot of funds available were designated to poor areas where people were the most vulnerable.
The issue of abuse was in unregistered places and people had been appointed, as well as the police, to look into it. They were taking the matter seriously.
With the alcohol harms programme, it had been found that they needed to keep youths busy on Fridays and Saturdays. They were trying to keep the neighborhood watches involved, and were also looking at the powers of the Liquor Board.
Ms Gillion asked the MEC to explain the plans they had from the previous year to make sure they could reduce the vacancy rate, as it seemed it would stay the same for the next few years.
Adv Fritz said they needed to go to the Treasury for the funds. They were looking at filling the critical posts, and the posts that were not critical were not being filled.
Dr Robert McDonald, Head of Department: DSD, said that the fiscal base had been contracting for the past few years. They had had unreasonable cuts and were suffering from an overload due to them. There was a cap on compensation, and they had focused on filling essential posts. “Burn out” was beginning to happen. They were bringing in NGOs from other areas, like foster care, to ease their load so they could deal with other issues. The NGOs rendered services more cost effectively. The cost of paying workers was also high, as there were no funds from government and it was hard to bring in new people. The above inflation increase in wages posed problems.
Ms P Makeleni (ANC) asked what impact the mitigation strategies would have on bottlenecks, if these would lead to job losses, and how the staff felt about it. She wanted to know how the strategies related to the targets of the DSD.
Dr McDonald said that previous year they had carried out an organization design process and had found that they needed more administrative support capacity. They had picked up non-compliance in the same area. They had looked at expanding capacity, so they had tried to reduce the load by measures such as a centralised supply chain, and improved compliance due to uniformity and procedure. It had been difficult, but they were making progress.
He said the shifting of ECD registration offices had been centralised and decentralized, and it had speeded up the progress of registration. They would be looking at the operational staff capacity for the next years, and had to maintain the ratio of workers to population to avoid being overwhelmed. They would be developing a model that suited the performance system.
He said that NGOs giving services like child protection received high year on year increases to ensure quality service. One NGO had closed down, which had put them under pressure to take up the service, as service delivery was the priority
Analysis of 2018 Estimates of Provincial Revenue and Expenditure
Ms Gopie asked what programme the youth cafes fell under, as they had targeted an increase in youth cafes.
Ms M Wenger (DA) asked why they had had a massive decrease on the national conditional grant. She asked what the budget increase should have been for the Department.
Ms Gopie asked how the Department was dealing with the reduction in budget.
Mr Mitchell said that if the state could not provide for the vulnerable, it became a human rights issue, so somebody had to push for it.
Mr Mzwandile Hewu, Chief Director: DSD: said that the change in the funding formula had led to the reduction. There would be a number of mitigation strategies they would not be able to cover.
Ms Gopie asked how many NGOs had closed down, and how it had affected the communities they were located in.
Dr McDonald said the 6% budget increase had been augmented by other conditional money, so it was actually less, and most was eaten up by above inflation wage increases. This put pressure on goods and services, with their increases, and more so on security. They should have received an above inflation percentage increase across the board, and were also facing a growing population that needed to be taken into consideration. The VAT increase would also be a big problem.
He said there was need to expand their facilities for secure care, which needed a lot of money, and they had tabled the plans with Treasury and Public Works. Over half of the children in care were above 18, and it had becoming incredibly dangerous. The ratio of care worker to child had to be brought down. He agreed that the bad conditions were a human rights issue.
Mr C Jordon, Acting Chief Director: Social Welfare, DSD, said that there were a few NGOs that had closed down and the Department had taken over with local services. They had looked at NGOs’ budgets to help those likely to close down, and this was in process. Other NGOs were taking over more areas. The quality was the same, and they were monitored by the Department. It was sad that some branches were closing down, but in Lutzville there was an organisation that had stepped in.
Mr Mitchell (said that the funding issue had to be addressed, as the quality of service would get lower, with NGOs stepping out and with less competition.
Ms Gillion (DA) asked what the estimated cost of the alcohol-related harms programme was for the financial year.
Dr McDonald said there was need to relook at the programme’s design. The cost of the DSD’s involvement in alcohol reduction were difficult to quantify, as there were three levels of approach – legislation, which was handled by community safety, alternative economic and recreation opportunities, and addressing alcohol demand. The DSD’s involvement was minimal, but the lead department was the Department of Health, which dealt with the key measures and interventions. They had done an assessment using a risk tool, and people at high risk had been sent to the DSD for placement in rehabilitation centres. Their role had been to receive referrals. There had been a low rate of return, as they would not come back after first or second meeting. New sites for counselling were needed, as people were not coming back for more sessions. They also needed the right kind of people, like skilled professionals such as psychologists or social workers. The drug treatment success rate was mixed because of the relapse rate, and levels of addiction were different, so it was difficult to measure.
Ms Makeleni asked if there were rehab centres in the townships, and how long the waiting list was.
The Chairperson asked if there were multiple best practice models they could use, what they were and what the success rate was. She asked how many NGOs that rendered this type of service were not compliant.
Dr McDonald said the different approaches to treatment depended on the nature of the individual cases, so it was the decision of social worker, as there was no one-size-fits-all. The programmes could be more effective, but they had to work with what they had. There were rehab centres in the townships, and the waiting list was only for residential facilities. There were multiple best practice models, and one was being rolled out nationwide by the government. The most successful was the matrix model, and it was also the most expensive. He said after care services also helped a lot after intervention.
Mr C Jordon said that ones they used were compliant, but others had been given notice of closure if they did not comply in a month.
Mr D Mitchell (DA) asked if he matrix model was being applied throughout the province, whether urban or rural, and if they delivered the same result.
Dr McDonald responded that he was not aware of matrix model practices outside the metro. The matrix model had a good relapse rate, but it did cost a lot more, and for the DSD it was a matter of a tradeoff between how many they could reach and what quality to deliver. There was the Minnesota model and the 12-step model, which would give slightly lower relapse rate.
Ms Wenger asked if the percentage increase in Compensation of Employees (COE) was due to above inflation salary increases and also the filling of posts. She asked what the implications of the costs incurred by the court case they had to fund had been, and what the DSD intended to do with the budget increase of R31m to R45m on child services.
Dr McDonald said in the communication they had received from Treasury, the R20m was not a conditional grant. R12m was for victim empowerment and R8m for child protection.
Mr Jordan said the social workers’ posting, bed availability, salaries for house mothers and security at shelters would benefit from the funds. Skills available at shelters would also be increased and there was a thought about opening another shelter, as well as providing emergency beds. There was a need for shelters for human trafficking victims. They would cover 20 shelters and also help with immediate support to children in shelters. They had a special shelter for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) people.
Mr Juan Smith, Chief Financial Officer (CFO): DSD, said that they had budgeted for filling 40 new posts, compared to previous year’s 95 target, as funds were not available.
Ms Wagner asked if the South African Police Service (SAPS) was keeping abuse and domestic crime statistics, and if the DSD, through SAPS, collected statistics on hate crimes. She asked for domestic violence victim statistics and urged that this be taken up more strongly.
Mr Jordan said they had a victim department forum which had statistics, but nothing on hate crime. However they had statistics for abuse on children and human trafficking, but there was a need for an improvement and a categorisation of the kinds. He agreed that domestic crime statistics were needed.
Ms Makeleni sought clarity on the payment for capital assets, and also the total which stayed the same over the three year period.
Mr Smith responded that there would be no further provision for capital assets, and the “100%” indicated that constant. The number of personnel was being kept the same, hence the constant number over the three years, but they had provisioned for the quality of service.
The Chairperson asked if the interns were absorbed into the DSD after their internship, and how many got permanent jobs.
Ms Lekker asked if the interns included auxiliary social workers and if the institution gave training to the auxiliary social workers.
Dr McDonald said it was not possible for there to be automatic admission, but there had been some interns who had applied and got work. It did not include social auxiliary workers, and other people who were trained ended up not wanting to work in the social environment.
Ms Makeleni asked about the legal costs of R112m. She asked for the allocations in Beaufort West to be clarified in comparison to other municipalities, and for details on the issue of encouraging applications for funding by NGOs.
Dr McDonald said the legal fees were their attorney fees, and the property payment was for security costs and statutory requirements. In Beaufort West, more than half of the spending went to NGOs which were not situated there, but had outreaches, hence the reflection in the budget.
They spread funding application news through NGOs, newspapers and teams that help with applications
Mr Mitchell said that they needed to take into account the intentions of an NGO. Inasmuch as they wanted to help them, not all were really there to help the people.
Dr Robert McDonald responded that they do not offer a very attractive amount of money, and other NGOs declined, so they could not really be blamed. Sometimes it had to do with areas, or maybe there could be violence or other issues.
The Department would brief the Committee on the budget breakdown for the youth programmes in the province.
Ms Lekker requested the names of institutions that train the auxiliary social workers, and how they worked with the DSD.
Ms Makeleni asked for a list of residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres in the metro, and the 35 interns who had been recruited, to see if it was a success story.
Ms Gopie said the DSD should have a workshop in Beaufort West in order to train people on the NGO procedure
The meeting was adjourned
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