The Western Cape Committee on Community Development met with the Western Cape Department of Social Development to deliberate on its Appropriation Bill.
The Bill was discussed in light of many issues arising from austerity measures imposed by Treasury.
The Department was coming up with innovative programmes to work around these changes, including incentivising frontline workers by providing opportunities for further professional development within the Department, the Cape Youth at Work Programme, expansion of its youth cafes initiative, Chrysalis and the Dignity Project. These were to be combined with the National Esibindi Programme.
The Committee asked for clarity surrounding justifications for which areas of the budget had been cut, specific details of the Department’s Programmes, as well as questions regarding its rural community presence, as well as specific gender-based violence programmes.
The Chairperson welcomed the delegation and invited them to introduce themselves.
Ms Mireille Wenger (DA) had apologised for her absence.
Opportunity was given to the MEC and the Head of Department to provide an overview. Committee Members were given the opportunity to pose questions, thereafter, moving to review of the budget book.
The MEC of the Department of Social Development: Western Cape, Advocate Albert Fritz, began by saying that Treasury had responded positively to the Department’s requests for the Appropriation Bill. Service pressures needed to be balanced with the current unfavourable financial climate. Budget had been increased in order to attract more compatible NGOs for collaboration. The Dignity Project rollout meant that the Department had received over R30 million, as well as a conditional national grant in order to provide free sanitary wear at schools. The Department was looking forward to implementation. Another positive project the Department was encouraged by was the Cape Youth at Work Project that provided hope to young people by providing an alternative.
The Head of the Department of Social Development: Western Cape, Dr Robert Macdonald, reemphasised that the Department would be going into a difficult year, especially regarding liquidation of Bosasa which had been a service provider to the Department. The liquidation of Bosasa would signal a R16 million budget shortfall. The services would either have to be taken in house or an alternative service provider would need to be found but this would be hindered by the lengthy procurement process.
Other issues included the Dignity Project, where parameters not yet established regarding Provincial and National Treasury involvement. The Project targeting and rollout was yet to determine whether the full amount allocated would be used. The target beneficiaries had been identified, however.
The Chairperson offered the Committee the opportunity to pose questions.
Mr D Mitchell (DA) asked for assurance that before any funding to NGOs and NPOs was stopped, that the funding would not be removed at the expense of the communities. The relevant and necessary support provided by those NGOs needed to be ensured by the Department. How many NGOs andNPOs had stopped receiving funding?
Regarding the rollout of youth cafes to rural and underserved communities, was there any indication of where these communities were and/or had they been identified by the Department?
The dysfunction of communities started within the home due to broken families. What was the plan / how was the Department going to support families going forward; especially in the rural communities, where broken families led to other social ills?
Ms D Gopie (ANC) asked on the issue of NPOs, how was the Department ensuring compliance from NPOs and those NPOs that had been given funding?
Ms P Makeleni (ANC) said that the Department was one of the top three Departments with issues in supply chains regarding irregular expenditure. What had the Department done to ensure this did not continue? On NPOs, how was compliance checked regarding the quality of services provided? How did the Department work around ensuring the quality of services provided by NPOs, as well as their compliance to Department demands? What was the difference between the Cape Youth at Work Programme and the Ministerial Outreach Programme? What did the Department mean when it referred to augmenting preventative programmes for children at risk?
Ms P Lekker (ANC) asked about the 2 500 NPOs. How was the Department ensuring compliance from the NPOs that it was funding? How far was the Department with the rollout of the provincial youth development strategy? What key milestones had been achieved? What were the non-core activities that would be affected by downsizing measure?
Mr Fritz responded to the questions regarding balancing quality assurance with compliance, saying that the Department worked in a regulatory environment. Many overriding bodies shaped the framework of compliance of regulations that the Department was allowed to operate and manage its relations with NGOs. For example, the Department faced issues such as a lack of communication with the Department. The Department was still working with NGOs to build capacity and ensure compliance. The Department was dealing with support to NGOs and had a Capacity Building Entity within the Department to make them compliant. However, many did not comply even after this. One issue was corporatized NGOs. The issue was how to get to the point of service delivery and avoid wasting money.
On the issue of impact, the Department lacked the money to do impact assessments. The Department simply looked towards job creation as a means of impact assessment. The Department’s programmes needed to prepare young people in a psycho-social way to participate in the labour market. The Department’s sister project, Chrysalis, was an important component of this role. The impact on children coming through the Chrysalis programme had been very successful.
On the Western Cape Youth Strategy, he said until there was an integrated approach in the province, with engagement with departments such as the Departments of Economic Development, Housing, regarding stakeholders in the construction and built environments, for example, there would be little impact of programmes due to the requirement for concerted effort. This was the logic behind why the Department had completely changed its focus.
On Ms Makeleni’s question, he said the Department had revamped the public works programme in order to provide the opportunity and capacity to channel people into jobs.
Further rollout of the youth cafes was being done with interesting partners. On the question of whether the youth cafés had not been sustainable, the Department was looking to expand them to rural areas to broaden sustainability. The Department needed cooperation from all spheres and levels of government, particularly at the municipal level in rural areas, in order to ensure the cafes were sustainable. The essence of the Department was on building stronger families and family structures, particularly in collaboration with the cities. The priority was also on reintegration of people on the street back into the family.
On Ms Gopie’s question of innovation, an example was the Eye on the Child Programme deployed in collaboration with the Esibindi Programme. It involved making all members of society aware of the need to take responsibility for social development. Moreover, the Department was working with NGOs give stipends towards this programme.
On irregular supply chains and expenditure, the MEC said the services had still been provided, the money had not been stolen, it had just been captured incorrectly. The Department was looking to centralise the process. There had been various outreaches done by the Department that had lacked a follow up imitative. The Cape Youth at Work filled this gap. It provided a link to the initial job opportunities.
The Department was looking at augmenting children at risk as an ongoing project. An example of augmenting programmes was of the Eye on the Child Programme.
Dr Macdonald addressed the question of non-core activities being cut. The cost effectiveness of community engagement had to be dealt with, involving a more targeted effort. Austerity made it difficult to show appreciation to staff due to cut backs. For example, the Department only catered for external engagements. Spending on social events for staff had also been cut back.
Addressing Ms Lekker’s question on the augmentation of programmes, this involved rolling out provincial youth development strategies as well after school programmes.
Ms Makeleni reminded the Department that the members did not sit in the Department and did not have an in depth understanding of its outreach programmes. What did the Cape Youth at Work Programme entail? What was the difference between that and the Outreach Programme? What this just for youth within the system or for anybody? How did youth get involved?
On the issue of augmenting programmes, what did this mean? And what impact did it make to the life of children?
How sustainable were the Youth Cafes? Was there a plan of increasing them beyond the 11 currently in operation?
Ms Lekker asked what monitoring mechanisms were applied to the Esibindi Programme. When were children taken to the main stream education programme? What were the Department’s monitoring mechanisms? For example, was it tracking how many children were processed per year?
The Chairperson asked whether the young people that had accessed youth cafes were part of the Chrysalis Programme.
In terms of budget cuts, what innovative ways were being used to keep staff motivated, especially the frontline staff?
Regarding the victim empowerment programmes for aftercares. What geographical areas would pilots begin in?
Mr Fritz addressed Ms Lekker’s question regarding the Esibindi Programme, saying that it was a nationally-monitored programme. It would be discontinued in the Western Cape.
Regarding the Cape Youth at Work initiative, the Department was using it to go into communities where the initiative was based and find out the social issues that were most pressing to the community and direct policy accordingly.
US Aid had also coming on board as a service provider nationally within the Esibindi space.
The Outreach Programme simply involved Mr Fritz and the Department conducting outreach themselves and differed from the Cape Youth at Work which was a concerted effort to channel young people into the job market. The Cape Youth at Work Programme also conducted psycho-social testing in order to better help candidates find suitable jobs. It was working with the Department of Economic Development in order to do this. The Cape Youth at Work was an intermediary to transfer youth to stable work environments.
On the number of youth cafes, the Department was targeting specific areas that were receptive to youth cafes. The Department was focussing on particular regions to create a footprint such as Mitchells Plein and Bredasdorp.
Applications came from many different places, including youth cafes for the Chrysalis Programme.
The issue of keeping frontline staff motivated was caught between obligations to Treasury and staff appreciation. One avenue was to try providing opportunities for staff to better their education and professionalise within the Department.
On the VP Aftercares which were women shelters funded to provide women with skills and shelter in order to channel the women back into the workspace. The Department was engaging with companies, as well as developing aftercare programmes for the women.
Dr Macdonald regarding the question on augmenting programmes for children at risk, the Eye on Child had been rolled out in certain areas. It was being combined with the Esibindi national programme, needing coordinated efforts. The Directorate for Child Protection was working link Esibindi to others by building a system of referral and working between agencies. Stipends were paid to community volunteers who gave early warning about children at risk. Cases were picked up at schools and crèches. This showed a forming early warning network through a collaboration of agencies.
Regarding preventative programmes for children at risk, the Department was introducing more rigorous programmes for monitoring. Social workers were doing more thorough risk assessments which were built into performance reviews.
The monitoring of Esibindi was done by families. The Department and national structures were checking organisations were adhering to contract issues. This was mainly done by spot checks and internal auditing.
The issue of where specific victim empowerment programmes at aftercares were being implemented was left to the Director of Social Crime Prevention, Mr Mzukisi Gaba.
On the increase of youth café sites, the plan over the coming years was to have between 11 and 14 in 2019; 15 in 2020; and continue increasing in a manner dependent on the budget. The sites remained to be determined. Attendance needed to be ensured but placing them closer to communities with transportation and other such concerns in mind.
Staff was being given more time to pursue their own professionalisation in the workplace as an answer to innovative ways of keeping staff motivated
Mr Gaba said that areas targeted for the victim empowerment programmes included Saartie Baartman and St Anne’s. The focus was on accredited skill stream programmes.
The main challenge was to take victims to state housing. The Department had scaled down outreach programmes to focus on psycho-social support. There remained opportunities for integration.
Ms Gopie asked Dr Macdonald whether the Department had people to work with schools. Was there more information on what assistance was being given to such people in schools?
What happened to those without birth certificates whose attendance at school was being prevented?
The Chairperson asked whether it was Ms Gopie’s first time raising the issue with the Department, and if yes, the specific case was asked to be taken off air.
Mr Macdonald said that the Department was engaging with NGOs and volunteers in the school space.
There was an issue of a gap between the Department of Education and the Department of Social Development surrounding cases of expulsion at schools. In particular, social workers were stigmatised at schools as there was a perception that they would cause schools to be perceived as ‘problem schools’. The Department of Education had its own internal social work unit and gave the impression that the Department of Social Development needed stay out of schools, leading to many schools not reaching out to the Department, leading to a gap between schools and social development emerging.
Mr M Wiley (DA) said that the Child Justice Act trumped issues of interference in schools as it gave the state the responsibility to follow up on such cases.
Dr Macdonald said this was correct, and that there was reason why schools should prevent a social worker from the Department of Social Development coming into them. The issue was more nuanced, with principals not preventing the Department per se, rather they would not report cases, and tries to deal with them internally.
The Chairperson moved on to review of pages 324 & 325
Ms Gopie asked to return to page 315. What were the core functions and responsibilities of the Department and which would be downsized?
The Chairperson moved on to review of pages 324,325,326, and 327
Ms Makeleni referred to page 321 regarding gang violence in Kraaifontein. Could the Department’s programmes speak specifically to progress on Instances of gender-based violence?
Cabinet had given Mr Fritz the responsibility to develop a plan to prevent child murders in province. How far was this process and was it budgeted for?
Ms Gopie asked of page 324 regarding conditional grants. Was the increase in the social work employment drive converted to equitable shares? Would it serve the same purpose?
Ms Makeleni asked on page 327 about substance abuse. What was the relationship of the Department with community-based rehabilitation centres and how were they assisted and monitored? Could this be addressed specifically regarding unregistered centres?
Dr Macdonald said that the core functions and downsizing of the Department were complete and nothing further was planned to be downscaled. Biggest recent downscaling had been community development. A lot of this money had been invested into cooperative projects of community mobilisation. This remained an experimental process.
The Department had to keep its core functions focussed on statutory responsibilities. The Western can was a unique province in terms of money allocated to substance abuse which guided the Department’s core functions.
On the issue of conditional grants and equitable shares, these were national decisions but would still be used.
On gender-based violence, he said Kraaifontein had victim empowerment and social crime prevention programmes. These depended on working closely with the police.
Mr Gaba said that in Kraaifontein specifically, in terms of services of victims of gender-based violence, it was in the catchment area of the metropole. There had been an escalation of focus in the area in terms of crime combatting.
Dr Macdonald said that on Ms Makeleni’s question of cabinet assuming responsibility to address child murders, the Department had asked for inputs from SAPs and the National Prosecuting Authority. This had been budgeted for in terms of child protection organisations and the Esibindi funding which had been used to implement early risk detection for implementation of the plan. The Department was making child protection systems more robust by conducting trend analyses mapping child murders over five-year periods.
The Department was looking at which areas required targeted assistance. These areas would be where Esibindi was used.
On unregistered drug treatment centres and their relationship with the Department, he said the Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse Act increases part of the registration of pilots to community-based treatment centres, creating a lot of administrative strain on the Department. However, the biggest risk was for unregistered centres involving exploitative practices and abuse. Therefore, the Department was closely monitoring the centres that it funded as well as all others.
The Chairperson allowed the Committee to break for tea.
Review of pages 328
Ms Makeleni asked about Kraaifontein again, saying the response was not responding to the Kraaifontein issues in the area specifically.
Review of pages 328 and 329
Ms Gopie asked about the summary of payments regarding transfer subsidies. Why had there been a decrease on household, infrastructure and capital spending?
The Chief Director: Financial Management, Mr Juan Smith, said it was difficult for the Department to plan for exits of staff members to determine capital assets. The Department had been using age analysis to estimate these timeframes.
In terms of financial assets, this could not be determined upfront. As the Department progressed through the year, the costs would become clearer.
In terms of infrastructure, it was an Early Childhood Development conditional grant in terms of maintenance and repairs. It was based on the amount of facilities that the Department had budgeted for on page 359 of the document.
Review of pages 330 and 331
Ms Gopie asked about Table 8.1.1 regarding transfers and subsidies on page 331, why was there a decrease in transfers?
Mr Smith said in terms of the household payments it was the same as mentioned before.
The capital decreases were due to the incentivised provision of equipment that would be provided based on the needs of individual budget holders.
Review of page 332
Ms Makeleni asked about management and support services. NGOs using money in admin and management was an issue here. What was the difference between what the NGOs did and what was seen in the programme under management?
Dr Macdonald said that NGO funding machinery of the Department was a big administrative process consuming great administrative cost. This was due to a large component of the Department being the outsourcing of services to NGOs, requiring contract management and distribution. Mr Macdonald invited Mr Smith to elaborate.
Mr Smith said that the normal cost of living was included.
Ms Makeleni was not satisfied. The Committee was still seeing a huge chunk of budget go to management and support rather than to service delivery. How did this link to management and support from a service delivery perspective?
Mr Fritz said that management and support was critical to service delivery and that it referred to different kind of cases, meaning the two could not be separated.
Dr Macdonald said that this case showed why Mr Fritz had been concerned with NGOs causing the balance between service delivery and management and support to be disproportionately skewed towards management.
Review of pages 334 - 337
Ms Makeleni asked the Department to clarify what partial care referred to. Did it refer to children or others needing partial care?
A member from the Department of Social Development said that partial care referred to all children, as well as afterschool care facilities.
Review of pages 338 and 339
Ms Gopie asked on page 339, Table 8.4, why there was a decrease in critical spending.
Mr Gapa referred to page 68 indicated earlier on that there had been a move towards focussing funding on psycho-social support. This would be prioritised over outreach programmes. Performance management numbers had been downscaled to realistic targets.
A member of the Department of Social Development said that they were focussing more intense therapy at aftercare facilities for women who had been victims of gender-based violence. Each victim received six session of aftercare after debriefing which had previously not been the case.
Review of pages 340- 343
Ms Makeleni struggled to understand budget for youth development. What was the budget as it was indicated as zero in the table? What was this trying to represent?
Dr Macdonald said that the youth development budget had used to be part of the Department of Social Development but had been shifted to the Department of Education.
Mr Fritz said that the youth development was making progress under the Department, but other parts of its budget had been moved from the department. For example, feeding school children was more easily served by the Department of Education as all schools had kitchen facilities and were able to reach children more easily.
The Chairperson referred to the performance plan of the Department which had indicators and definitions of youth development relating to Ms Makeleni’s question.
Review of pages 344 and 345
Ms Gopie asked on page 334, Table 9.1 regarding administration and children and families, why was there a decrease in programme one and three? Why was there a decrease in personnel?
Dr Macdonald said these decreases were not retrenchments; they were simply movements from programmes one and three to programme two.
Review of the Annexures
Ms Gopie indicated 347. Regarding consultants and professional services, and provision transport, rental and hiring, what were the reasons for increase costs of consultants? What were the reasons for the decreases in transport costs? How would this impact departmental activity?
What were the reasons for the increases in rental and hiring?
Ms Makeleni asked about cross wards municipal projects. Why was there nothing under the metro, how were those allocated to wards?
Dr Macdonald left consultancy questions to Mr Smith/
Mr Smith said the consultants and professional services was a new amount in order to deal with increasing numbers of those affected by substance abuse. This had also led to the increase in the number of bed space.
In terms of transport provided, it was for clients of the Department. This was on a needs-based capacity and thus fluctuated and influenced the budget accordingly.
Dr Macdonald said this was, for example, the cost of taking children to court or flying them to other provinces.
Mr Smith said that the increase in rental and hiring was due to the increase in available government venues. The Department tried to use its own facilities where possible but in rural areas there are less government facilities, leading to spikes in expenditure.
Dr Macdonald referred cross municipal boundary projects to Mr Smith.
Mr Smith said that allocations were done by region relating to service provider. NGOs were often situated in urban areas but rented services across metros and provinces that the Department made use of.
Ms Makeleni asked for further clarification.
Dr Macdonald said that sometimes service providers’ services ranged across areas, while their head offices were based in one metro.
The Chairperson referred to a question that had come up in the annual report which had been of a similar nature.
Mr Fritz thanked the Committee and reinforced that Treasury had met the Department’s budget requests.
Dr Macdonald thanked the Committee for the inputs.
The Chairperson thanked the Department.
The Chairperson said that the Standing Committee came to its end.
The Committee would go to votes on budget in the House.
The Department was asked to convey the Committee’s thanks to the frontline members of the Department of Social Development for their cervices.
The Chairperson thanked the Committee and the meeting was adjourned.