The Portfolio Committee of Social Development was briefed by the national and provincial Departments of Social Development on the employment of social work graduates. It was then briefed by the national Department on an update of the foster care court order.
On social work graduates, the provincial Departments of Social Development (DSD) mentioned that the challenges they faced were budget cuts, a lack of tools of trade, a shortage of vehicles to transport social workers to remote areas and office space. Some of the provincial departments had unique challenges were as some of the challenges were cross cutting across provinces. These challenges were the biggest factors that contributed to not absorbing a satisfactory amount of social work graduates. Despite a Cabinet resolution made in 2018, government departments have not been employing social work graduates.
The Department has engaged with Treasury and has received additional allocation of about R75 million however, this is not yet in writing. This will fund the 1 800 social workers that were employed to assist in COVID19 related matters by extending their contracts from three months to the end of the financial year.
The Deputy Minister stated that the Department needs to be more innovative to ensure social workers are enabled despite the constraints. The need for more supervisors is a great concern and the Department has engaged with the Department of Higher Education in developing a leadership school as social workers mostly do junior degrees and do not specialise. The conclusion of the White Paper will solve many of the issues mentioned in the meeting and she assured the Committee that the Department is trying to fast track this.
The Committee raised concerns regarding the challenges presented by the Department and asked if there were no alternative innovative ways of addressing some of the challenges. It also raised that it was concerned that Cabinet resolutions were not adhered to.
On the foster care court order progress, the Department stated that the progress made is 30 161 cases and there is a balance of 4 448 cases which include cumulative cases. The nature of the foster care court order is that new cases emerge almost daily as new children enter the foster care system.
The National Child Care Policy and Protection will also be made available to the Committee as well as a list of persons and organisations that have benefited from the Criminal Assets Recovery Account (CARA) grant.
The Chairperson welcomed all in attendance and thanked everyone for always heeding the Committee’s call to avail themselves to ensure the execution of its work. Following his welcome, the Chairperson tabled the agenda before Committee Members for adoption.
The Chairperson proceeded to do a roll call so that all the provinces could confirm their presence in the meeting. An apology on behalf of the MEC of the Eastern Cape was given by the Committee Secretary. The HOD of Kwazulu-Natal advised that the MEC was attending a Cabinet meeting and would be joining later. The Minister was attending Cabinet but the Deputy Minister was present on her behalf.
Ms Hendrina Samson, HOD Social Development: Northern Cape, brought it to the attention of the Committee that the Northern Cape had a new MEC, Ms Nontobeko Vilakazi, who had been appointed two months prior. The Chairperson congratulated and welcomed the MEC and told her to feel at home with the Committee.
Opening Remarks by Deputy Minister
Beginning the presentation, the Deputy Minister, Ms Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, said that the Department was presenting before the Committee to update the Committee and the country at large on two outstanding and pressing issues within the Department, those being about foster care and the employment of social workers.
The Deputy Minister stated that the Department has been hard at work in meeting the High Court judgment on foster care. The Ministerial Committee on foster care has shared a lot of wisdom with the Department which it has implemented in dealing with the matter. The provinces will give an overview of the particular issues faced in their province as each province has experienced unique challenges.
A common challenge faced with the foster care backlog is the inability to ensure that social work professionals are able to meet their objectives. Finding the balance of dealing with court orders that are lapsing while clearing the backlog has also been a challenge. Legislative framework needs to introduce the new administrative vehicle that will clear the backlog and create a system that will not require the Department to consistently take every child before the court within the duration of the orders. This will also unburden the Children’s Court.
The employment of social workers is an ongoing issue. The Cabinet resolution taken in 2018 affirmed that Social Workers need to be appointed by all departments that require social workers, with a specific lead from Departments such as Social Development, Basic Education, Health, Defense and Correctional Services. It was determined that it should not be the core responsibility of the DSD alone. The scholarship for social workers has been reduced and redirected as per the agreement with Treasury. Redirected funds will go to the absorption of social workers in the provinces. The DSD has ensured that social workers are supported by establishing the regulations that guide child and youth care workers to perform groundwork which will allow social workers to focus on statutory aspects.
The Deputy Minister confirmed that there has been an increase in the employment of social workers. Social workers graduate every year and the Department has struggled to absorb them as quickly as desired. The DSD is retracing its steps and finding ways to correct the delays in this regard.
The Department is hard at work finalising the White Paper which will be consolidating the sectors work. Once it has been consolidated, the DSD will be able to resolve the challenge of social work professionals and the budget allocated to their entry level, tools of trade, recruitment strategy and their retention. Treasury has confirmed that once the white paper is finalised, it will be there to support the Department.
Presentation Update on Employment of Social Workers
Mr Linton Mchunu, Acting Director-General, DSD, began by saying that the Department will share some principles around social workers with the Committee, drawing from previous meetings that the Department has engaged in. He proceeded to explain that each province will get an opportunity to speak about the challenges within the Province.
Mr Mchunu highlighted that the Department is very central to the efforts to reduce the levels of social ills, vulnerability and poverty. With the rise of social ills in the country it has become more and more important to consider having many more Social Workers. Referring the Committee to a point previously made, he said that the Department may be seen as being very reactive rather than being proactive, as far as addressing social ills is concerned. Still making reference to his previous comments, Mr Mchunu said that he had pointed out that the Department continued to hire more Policemen as a reactive stance when it should in actual fact be hiring more Social Workers, to be able to address this anomaly. The Deputy Minister has spoken at length about some of the measures that the Department was going to put into place, which he said he would go into detail with regards to some of those.
Mr Mchunu felt that the most important measure to speak on is the Cabinet decision that it is not only the responsibility of the DSD to absorb Social Workers but the Government as a whole. The DSD said that it is looking into this decision and is busy engaging with other Departments to get a sense of how they have been assisting in this regard.
He said that the Committee will note in both presentations that there are a number of historical challenges and that these challenges seem to be the same that the Department has experienced year after year. What the Department has done is to make a concerted effort to finding a way to put a stop to these historical challenges and addressing them accordingly. Two elements that it is looking at to assist in this regard is to build into their work, digital technology solutions that will assist as much of the Department’s work is still done manually and this causes part of the delay in some of the work that it does. There is also an effort at business process re-engineering.
Mr Mchunu said that everything he has mentioned was an outline of the presentation and that Mr Ndaba will speak to the crux of the presentation. The request from the Committee was to deal with the issue of the employment of Social Workers and to provide data as far as unemployed Social Workers is concerned, but also the projections and cost implications. He apologised in advance that the presentation that the Committee Members have, that was sent through, would have slightly different figures compared to the one the Department is using to present and this is because the figures change on a regular basis and when the Department met together with all the MEC’s, on the evening prior to the meeting there were one or two numbers that it needed to amend. He confirmed that there weren’t any major changes however each Province will speak to the changes made. Concluding on the purpose Mr Mchunu said that he would hand over to Mr Khumbula Ndaba, Deputy Director-General: Corporate Support Services, DSD, to continue with the presentation on updating the Committee on the employment of social workers, beginning with the context.
The update that Mr Ndaba gave on the employment of social workers was detailed in the presentation presented to the Committee. Expanding on the point of internship programmes as one of the high level interventions that the Department had, he said that this intervention is very crucial to building its capacity and ensuring that the Department attracts more social workers. What the Department felt was important to underscore is the Cabinet resolution of 2018 on recruitment of social service professionals, as it had been engaging different departments to ensure that they fulfill the obligations in terms of the resolution.
Mr Ndaba explained that the slide in the presentation that detailed the progress on the absorption of social work graduates was there to show how the Department had fared in terms of the absorption of social work graduates. He pointed out that what was important to note in this part is that the DSD sector had absorbed 3 719 social work bursary holder graduates to date, which can be tracked from the 2014/2015 financial year right to the 2019/2020 financial year.
Before Mr Ndaba could proceed, the Chairperson pointed out that in his document he had a figure of 3 465 graduates, yet Mr Ndaba had a document reflecting a figure of 3 719. The Chairperson was concerned by the large difference in figures.
Mr Ndaba explained that the figures had been adjusted after consultation with the provinces and tendered an apology for this on behalf of the Department.
The filled number of posts amounted to 9 697. What was important to note was that the Eastern Cape employed 2 447 social workers, which is the highest number followed by Gauteng and there after followed by Kwazulu-Natal and lastly followed by Limpopo. Looking at the provinces with the highest number of vacant posts Limpopo was the province with the highest.
Mr Ndaba explained that when the Department details the figure of unemployed scholarship graduates, this is in reference to those scholars who received bursaries from the Department. The figure of those graduates was 4 829. The province that awarded the highest number of bursaries was the Eastern Cape. Explaining what the Department was making reference to in terms of non-scholarship graduates, Mr Ndaba said that these were graduates who funded their own education without any assistance from the state. The total number of non-scholarship graduates is 4 044. The bulk of these graduates were from Gauteng with a total number of 1 729.
Mr Ndaba explained to the Committee that students have been categorised according to their year of study when detailing the current number of social work students on scholarship programmes. In the final year of study, which is year four, the Department had 463 students who were on scholarship funding. The total number of students who are on the scholarship programmed is 488.
Looking at the budget allocation versus the expenditure for the 2020/2021 financial year, Mr Ndaba said that it appeared to be a trend of all the provinces to spend less than what was allocated to them. He further went on to say that he assumes that there is an explanation for it. It was also important to note that the expenditure information was as at 30 September 2020 and provinces were still busy with recruitment which meant that the numbers were still going to change.
Before Mr Ndaba could proceed with the presentation, the Chairperson asked if he could explain if this was an Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) allocation or a once off allocation.
Mr Ndaba responded by saying that it was an allocation to the provinces, based on the financial years reflected.
The Chairperson explained that when he spoke about an MTEF allocation, he was referring to a budget allocation made up over five years which is then broken down over those five years.
Mr Ndaba responded by saying that what the Department was tracking is two financial years, but that the MTEF would be a three year allocation period.
Following that explanation, the Chairperson felt that his question was not answered however he told Mr Ndaba to proceed with the presentation.
Mr Ndaba explained that the slide that followed detailed the Department’s projections in terms of how many graduates it projects to employ over the MTEF period.
Summarising the challenges that the provinces have encountered, the Department stated the following:
- That scholarship programmes are not aligned to the HR plans as well as budget.
- Funding to employ social workers remains a challenge
- That the tools of trade including vehicles remain a challenge
- COVID19 has placed pressure on a limited number of social workers in the provinces.
Mr Ndaba confirmed that this is what information is coming up from the provinces reports.
Mr Mchunu then said that he would be handing over to the provinces who would briefly guide the Committee around the challenges that Mr Ndaba had made mention of. Some of these challenges were unique to each province while others were crosscutting.
Ms Ntombi Baart, Head of Department, Eastern Cape, stated that the pressures brought by COVID19 have exerted enormous pressure onto the limited number of social workers.
The challenges that the province faces are:
- Insufficient budget to absorb the unemployed social work graduates.
- The limited supply of government vehicles to reach far out located rural areas.
- Department of Public Services and Administration (DPSA) recruitment regulations and directives do not provide for an automatic absorption of unemployed social graduates.
- Shortage of working tools
The province suggested that Treasury give an additional allocation to help in this regard. It noted a cost of R20 000 per laptop (replacement and additional) and a total of R13 million projected cost per annum.
Adv Tumelo Phahlo, Acting HOD, Free State, stated that the province has a shortage of social work supervisors, having an effect on the case management of pressing matters. The Department has appointed new social work graduates without extensive experience especially on statutory issues, hence the number of graduates appointed. The number of supervisors is also not adequate enough to provide proper supervision and support. Over and above this, the province also listed the same challenges as the Eastern Cape for the insufficient absorption of social work graduates.
Mr Desmond Mahopo, Chief Director: Community Development, Department of Social Development, Limpopo, stated that the lack of dedicated staff compromises the quality of services. There is an expansion of services but a lack of managers and supervisors. Thuthuzela Care Centres do not have dedicated staff with specialised training to provide trauma counselling. There is also a need for staff to roll out behavior change programmes. The province also listed the same challenges as the Eastern Cape for the insufficient absorption of social work graduates.
Ms Hendrina Samson, HOD, Northern Cape, stated that the compensation budget does not make provision for employment of additional Social Workers. The Department went into partnership with several institutions such as the Wits Health Consortium, the Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority (HWSETA), TPNN Technologies, National DSD and the Department of Education to place the unemployed social work graduates in internships programs for a period of 6 to 12 months. Although it is a short-term solution, the Department advertised 30 social worker posts for possible absorption.
Ms Nelisiwe Vilakazi, HOD, KZN, stated that the work study investigation, conducted by the provincial department during 2017 showed that 2 451 social workers are required which was in relation to the population and the caseload per social worker. The investigation further showed that 409 supervisors are required in relation to the existing norm. Due to budgetary constraints, 1 541 posts for social workers and 110 social worker supervisors were approved. The establishment of both the 1 541 and 110 posts have all been filled.
Dr Robert Macdonald, HOD, Western Cape stated that there were more social work graduates than approved posts. Costs related to the expansion of the current office accommodation are insufficient. The department’s needs included the User Asset Management Plan (UAMP) submitted to the Department of Transport and Public Works and Provincial Treasury.
Ms Masego Mekgwe, Acting HOD, North West, reported a budget allocation of R5 million for the 2020/2021 financial year but the expenditure as of 30 September 2020 was zero.
Ms Belinah Mojapelo, Acting HOD, Mpumalanga stated that there are 432 filled social work posts and three vacant posts. There are 353 unemployed scholarship graduates and 90 non-scholarship graduates.
Ms Thembeni Mhlongo, HOD, Gauteng, informed the Committee that zero of the 49 vacant posts were filled. There are zero unemployed scholarship graduates and 30 non-scholarship graduates.
Mr Mchunu said that in the re-imagined social development sector, some things will need to be completely different such as digital transformation elements. The business process must be re-engineered in terms of the work the DSD is doing. This will be a national plan working with provinces to establish root causes in the failures in the absorption of social workers as well as the frame of social work as a whole. Social workers do generic work touching on areas of children, GBV, family and substance abuse amongst others. Thus, the DSD is trying to formulate a plan with tertiary institutions and other stakeholders in this regard. Tertiary programs need to be aligned with the needs of the country. Training needs to be centered around the needs felt on the ground for instance, the increase of GBV and femicide in South Africa means that training needs to have a focus on this. There are investments being made on this.
Mr D Stock (ANC) asked if the DSD has taken a step back to reflect and interrogate the true role of social workers, areas of deployment and the remuneration of social workers. The plight of social workers has been the same for many years and has not changed. Is the Department confident that the current interventions will yield the intended outcomes? How certain is the Department that provincial departments have the capacity to implement these interventions? Has National Treasury agreed to release any additional allocations to fund the absorption of social workers? An additional allocation cannot only be on paper but must receive commitment from National Treasury.
Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) stated that it is disheartening finding social work graduates working as wait staff in restaurants and not working within the industry which they have studied. She stated that she remembers a time where there were about 3 000 social workers that had not being absorbed by the state and the figures are now sitting on 9000. It is clear that this matter is not being treated with the urgency that it requires. The presentation lacked a clear focus on solutions, for example it was not mentioned how the DSD will reach the National Development Plan (NDP) goal of 55 000 social workers by 2030. The lack of vehicles, tools of trade and office space are ongoing issues but there are no concrete plans to address these challenges. Insufficient budgets have been mentioned by all the provincial departments. This is baffling as there are allocated funds for the absorption of Social Workers. Does this mean that the budget is spent on other things? The Eastern Cape has been allocated R751 000 for the absorption of social workers, but it only plans to spend R340 000 of that budget. The Free State similarly has an allocated budget of R20 million but has only spent R7 million of its budget. There are a social work vacancies in all the Departments, are these vacancies funded?
The root causes such as sector departments that have not yet come onboard in the absorbing of social workers needs intervention from the Deputy President as the leader of government business as these Sector Departments contradict the Cabinet resolution made in 2018. By resolving this, it will relieve issues such as the lack of office space, tools of trade and other issues mentioned, as social workers that are absorbed by the Department of Correctional Services for instance will then go work in a corrections facility. Which departments are failing and what are the interventions?
Ms B Masango (DA) stated that the President said that GBV is the second pandemic in South Africa. Considering the strict protocols and firm decision-making around COVID19, why is GBV not being handled in the same method? The challenge of having social workers but no tools of trade means that work has not being done. The issue then of the absorption of social workers is ultimately the lack of success in the fight against social ills. Ms Masango conveyed that during oversight that she performed in the North West, there was a situation where a young man had to recover the bodies of two young boys who had drowned in a barrow pit. The young man now has sleepless nights as he has visions of the incident. He has received no counseling and this may be a result of the lack of Social Workers in this Province. Social Workers are to Social Development, what doctors are to the Department of Health. Ms Masango asked the Department to please clarify the statement that proposals to Treasury have been rejected.
Ms A Abrahams (DA) stated that Departments such as the South African Police Service (SAPS), the Department of Health and Department of Basic Education need to report to the Portfolio Committee of Social Development as to why it has not complied with the Cabinet Resolution. Ms Abrahams requested that these Departments and Treasury be brought before the Committee to present why funding has been declined and why social workers are not being absorbed adequately.
Ms Abrahams stated that the numbers in the presentation are incorrect and do not match the totals. Please may the Department include a paragraph on the wellness programmes that are offered to social workers such as counselling which are essential? When talking about projected budgets, does it include auxiliary social workers, graduate social workers on level one and social workers supervisors? It seems like the budget only includes graduate social workers on level one. Why does an entry level graduate in Gauteng earn an average of R25 000 a month whereas a social worker in Limpopo or the Western Cape will receive a salary at an average of R34 000 if they are all in the same category? Has the Department asked graduates who have their own laptops/cellphones to use that to alleviate the issue of the lack of tools of trade?
Desktops are becoming redundant and laptops and tablets are the way of the future. Why is the Department still purchasing these? Why is the Department allowing service providers to hold it at ransom by charging R20 000 per laptop as it this is an inflated price for a laptop?
Ms L Arries (EFF) stated that it is worrisome that the Cabinet resolution is not being adhered to. Ms Arries requested that a list be provided of non-compliant departments. How many unemployed social workers are currently on the system? Why have six provinces not provided any social work bursaries in 2019/2020? In Limpopo there are 455 vacancies, why is the number so high when that province has such a high number of unemployed graduates? In Mpumalanga and KZN there are zero budget allocations, what is the reason for this? Why have provinces not spent its complete allocated budget? What are the strategies for recruitment? Has the Department looked into satellite services being created in rural areas as the lack of vehicles have been mentioned as a challenge? According to the presentation by the representatives of Limpopo, there is a lack of dedicated staff, this is worrisome as this shows a lack of effective management.
Ms N Mvana (ANC) asked what the Department is doing to effectively track and trace graduates that are on its system. The Eastern Cape stated that the Department of Basic Education has employed social work graduates however, has the DSD approached other departments?
Ms J Manganye (ANC) stated that the presentation by the provincial departments have been a repetition from other years. It is presented that there should be one supervisor to seven social workers however Ms Manganye has found one supervisor to 14 social workers in her oversight. If the Department is serious about the output of social workers on the ground, then there needs to be an increase of supervisors. If social workers do not have the means of traveling to particular areas, then they should utilise office phones rather than not servicing those areas at all.
Ms A Motaung (ANC) asked if the Department has engaged with regional or international bodies on sourcing additional funds to support the provision of employment of social workers? The NDP proposes that by 2030, there should be 55 000 social service professionals absorbed by the state, how can the Department see to it that it meets this target?
The Chairperson stated that there is a strong need for the Department to demonstrate how efficient it is at making use of the resources it has. The presentation must have integrity and presentations should not be given to the Committee then a few days later, another presentation is given and so on. The figures stated should also be correct otherwise, the exercise is futile. Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) has been identifying the vulnerable in communities. The DSD has a mandate to deal with social protection and what StatsSA has presented, gives the Department insight in areas it should be intervening in. The ratios of social workers to people in need must be put in scientific terms. Considering the resources, the Department needs to determine which needs of the vulnerable it will prioritise as most important and do so using a full SWAT analysis and give a scientific, concrete view of this to the Committee.
Ms Baart stated that the Eastern Cape has an agreement with the Department of Basic Education which is yielding results in the absorption of Social Workers. There is a school social work programme that intends on attaching a Social Worker to each school. The DSD is extending this to the Department of Safety to partner on a GBV programme. A Memorandum of Association (MOA) has been signed with the Department of Health. The estimated cost of R20 000 per laptop as mentioned by Ms Abrahams is an estimate which is the cost for laptops and data. Due to the budget cut and the zero based budgetary, the Province will not have any Compensation of Employees (COE) reflected. The budget reflected for spending shows a 50% total spend of the budget and the remaining budget will be spent in this half year. There are about 67 posts for Social Workers and this will be funded by the remaining budget.
Ms Mamiki Qabathe, MEC: Social Development, Free State, said that the province did not exhaust the budget allocation for the employment of social workers. Planning is not integrated and interrelated in government and this is reflected in the figures of the presentation. The HOD and the Executive had to make the hard decision of whether to employ social work graduates given that it did not have office space and tools of trade. The Department ensured that it strengthened its relations with Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs) to help respond to challenges faced by the Province instead of employing individuals without tools of trade. The Department is focusing on creating a healthy environment for employment.
MEC Vilakazi (Northern Cape) stated that there are 30 vacant social work posts. The posts are funded however there is no funding for the outer years. There are no tools of trade for additional social workers.
Ms Mojapelo stated that there are zero scholarships for year one and year two. The Mpumalanga province has resolved that it cannot continue granting scholarships with the inability to absorb the social work graduates. The total number of unemployed graduates is 353 for those who received scholarships and 90 that were self-funded. The province needs 435 social workers to cater to the population. The capacity thus means the province has enough unemployed graduates to help the province meet the need of social workers. Should the population grow, this will be reviewed. There is no budget that is allocated however, the Department is engaging with Provincial Treasury to provide funding to employ social workers. The Department is also engaging with the Executive Council as it has placed the Department under moratorium. Should the moratorium be lifted, this may enable the Department to receive funding.
MEC Vilakazi stated that the tools of trade have been affected due to car hijackings that have occurred. The KZN Department does not have the budget to employ new social work graduates.
Ms Mekgwe stated that the NPOs that are being funded have received funds to also pay social workers. The North West has a challenge with social work supervisors. It has been agreed that the budget will be repurposed to increase the employment of social workers and supervisors. The Department has partnered with veteran social workers as they are able to support the Department with supervision. Child protection organisations are also providing assistance with regards to supervision. The Department has employed and finalised the processing of social workers that will deal with GBV. There is no budget allocation for the outer years.
Ms Sharna Fernandez, MEC: Social Development, Western Cape, stated that there is a misalignment between the DSD and Treasury as the DSD deliberates on absorbing social work graduates whereas Treasury has put in frameworks that hinder funding for this. The Western Cape had 101 social work graduates on four-year contracts, about 20 of these graduates obtained permanent posts. There are now 81 graduates on four-year contracts. The Department has spent R16.8 million on grants in this financial year. Tools of trade do not only include office space, laptops and vehicles but also equipping people under COVID19 conditions. The Department found that it was providing more bursaries than its ability to absorb graduates. The Western Cape is committed to bring as many social work graduates on board within its means while noting all the constraints at the same time.
Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi, MEC: Social Development, Gauteng, stated that positions are being advertised and it is in the process of conducting interviews thus, the budget allocation is zero. The disparity in Social Worker salaries in Gauteng compared to their Limpopo and Western Cape counterparts will be looked into and feedback given to the Committee.
Mr Mahopo clarified that he did not mean that social workers are not committed to their work but rather that Social Workers do generic work and do not have a specific area of focus. They are not committed to one area of specialty. He stated that the projection of how many social workers will be needed to be absorbed for the coming three years is 200 graduates. He stated that the zero budget of expenditure is due to the repurposing of R70 million towards COVID19. Limpopo was dealt a hard blow by COVID19 but agrees that the budget for social work graduates should be ring fenced.
Mr Ndaba stated that there is an Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) which makes provision for salaries and grade progression. It must be reviewed every three years. The Department has been constrained in this area by National Treasury as it has put a seal on the COE for all public servants. The OSD for social service professionals has not yet been reviewed. The Department’s database is generated from information given directly from provinces and the information from the council. The database gets reviewed. All social workers should be registered to the council and the information given to the Department from them is usually accurate.
Mr Mchunu said the Department has engaged with Treasury and has received additional allocation of about R75 million however, this is not yet in writing. This will be used to extend contracts of social workers that were hired on three-month contracts which will now be extended to the end of the financial year. The Department is conducting a capacity analysis across the sector to get a better sense of what practitioners need. This will contribute to the Department reaching the targets set out by the NDP. Mr Mchunu thanked all social practitioners, ground workers and frontline workers for their hard work under difficult situations especially under COVID19.
Deputy Minister Remarks
Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu stated that she has noted the Committee’s comments regarding the resubmission of presentations close to the date of the meeting. This will be improved. The budget allocation for the absorption of social work graduates was ring fenced in 2014/2015 when the decision was taken for the scholarship to be halved and money being allocated to provinces. The allocation of the budget being given to provinces exhausted the conditional grant and provinces went into the pool resulting in the Department being in a bad space. She agreed that the Department needs to be more innovative as per the recommendation of the Committee to ensure social workers are enabled despite the constraints.
The shortages of supervisors are a challenge and the Department has engaged with The Department of Higher Education in developing a leadership school as social workers mostly do junior degrees and do not specialise. The Deputy Minister assured the Committee that despite this being a long existing issue, through the President's request this has become a standing agenda item. The Department will submit a report on the progress it has made in this regard since the Cabinet resolution in 2018. She asked that the Committee assists the Department in approaching the Deputy President as per the Committee recommendation as this will contribute to progress of the absorption of social work graduates. The conclusion of the White Paper will solve many of the issues mentioned in the meeting and she assured the Committee that the Department is trying to fast track this.
The Chairperson thanked the provincial departments for the work they have done during the midst of COVID19 in psychosocial support. He thanked the Department for its presentations and attendance.
Foster Care Backlog Update
Mr Mchunu presented the update on the foster care backlog. It was stated that there is a total of 30 161 cases that have progressed between December 2019 and 31 September 2020. Provinces are extending the foster care orders through the Children’s Courts so that they have lapse dates that go beyond 26 November 2020 to avoid orders lapsing simultaneously. The initial baseline of foster care orders that were affected by the 2017 North Gauteng High Court Order (NGHCO) were 273 379. Progress made was with 241 128 extended through the Children’s Courts. The outstanding orders, as of 26 November 2019, was 31 813. The limited resources such as the shortage of social workers, supervisors and tools of trade are still big challenges to clearing the backlog of cases.
Ms Arries asked if the total of 1 652 cases that has been resolved?
Ms Abrahams alerted the Chairperson that it has been a week since she asked for the list of persons that have received funds from the Criminal Assets Recovery Account (CARA) grant for GBV.
The Chairperson stated that he does not take kindly to this as it is existing information.
Ms Masango asked about the policy that underlines the Bill having been approved by Cabinet in 2019 - please may this document be made available to the Committee? She asked if the affidavit is with the State Attorney or if it is being lodged in court?
Ms van der Merwe stated that one of the contributing challenges are with the Departments of Justice and Home Affairs. It was mentioned that the Acting Director-General (ADG) met with the Direcors-General of these respective departments. What is the feedback from these engagements?
Mr Mchunu stated that the State Attorney is the Attorney of record thus, the Department engages with the Attorney and the documents are then lodged on behalf of the Department through the Attorney. The documents have been submitted to the Attorney. The Department has been advised to report to the Chief Magistrates forum, which the Department is pursuing.
Mr Mchunu said the list mentioned by Ms Abrahams will be given to the Committee after the meeting. The National Child Care Policy and Protection will also be made available to the Committee.
The Department stated that the progress made is 30 161 cases and there is a balance of 4 448 cases which include cumulative cases.
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