Social Development Cluster: Department briefing

Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


5 August 2005

Chairperson: Ms M Morutoa (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Department of Social Development presentation
Commission on Gender Equality submission
Department Gender Mainstreaming Plan
Department Social Development Policy Framework: Orphans and Vulnerable Children

Department of Social Development staff gave a presentation on home-based care, gender parity and other social development programmes. Officials elucidated on their role within the social cluster, home- and community-based care, funding and conditional grants, and gender focal points. They explained the nature of essential services and outlined the welfare finances service delivery model. Staff provided detail on the current status of social welfare funding, the proposed Department interventions, the gender mainstreaming guidelines, and training and institutional mechanisms.

Members then raised issues, including:
- the accessing of approved donor funds by NGOs in reasonable time,
- the role of the Lottery Fund in providing vital resources,
- statistics on social workers operating within rural areas,
- strategies to deal with rising incidences of child-headed households,
- the existence of a specific gender budget,
- the Department's contribution to the Expanded Public Works Programme,
- numbers and location of home-based care initiatives,
- problems around the accessing of social grants, and
- the proposed role of auxillary social workers to assist over-extended professionals.


Department briefing
Mr S Jehoma (Department Acting Deputy Director-General) outlined the Department's role within the Social Cluster, highlighting leadership, specific interventions and oversight responsibilities. He provided detail on specific interventions, and emphasised the challenges of HIV/AIDS home- and community-based care. The Department had contributed to the Expanded Public Works Programme, food security, rural development and urban renewal initiatives. He explained their home- and community-based care strategies and elucidated the goals of co-ordinated action plans for children. Formal and informal caregivers would deliver comprehensive health and social services.

Mr Jehoma reported on funding and conditional grants, and gave examples of essential services. He provided detail on the Welfare Finances Service Delivery Model for integrated service delivery. MinMEC had developed and approved a new model for development social services. Equity, efficacy and integration would be promoted in delivering a pre-determined ‘basket of social services’. Norms and standards would be identified to assist with evaluation on an ongoing basis. He elaborated on the current status of funding social welfare services, as Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) received an inadequate amount. The Department outlined key upcoming interventions and emphasised the need for increased financial allocations. A closer working relationship needed to be fostered between the Department and NGOs. He also provided information on the Department’s gender mainstreaming guidelines.

Ms S Vos (IFP) referred to her involvement in a large trust. She highlighted severe bureaucratic weaknesses in accessing much-needed foreign funds from the Department of Social Development. NGOs played a major role in facilitating development and should be supported. The potential effectiveness of donor funding was curtailed by the delays in accessing available resources and bureaucratic incompetence. The role of the Lottery Fund in providing monies had to be explained and available amounts identified. Members required updates on the numbers of social workers currently operating within the rural areas and the locations of facilities. Regions in need did not receive assistance. She requested information on the number of shelters available for abused women. The Department should assist NGOs in establishing such facilities. The Department needed to apply a structured approach to dealing with the rising incidence of child-headed households.

Ms M Themba (ANC) asked for statistics on the number of child-headed households and whether Members could receive copies of provincial reports sent to the national Department. She asked whether a specific gender budget was in place to advance gender focal points.

Mr D Mabena (ANC) asked in what manner the Department had contributed to the EPWP. Urban farming initiatives were progressing slowly due to poor assistance and low funding. New plans should be devised to address the shortcomings.

The Chairperson sought clarity on the nature of interventions regarding gender-based violence and the role of the SA Police Service (SAPS). Resources within trauma centers at police stations had to be improved. She asked whether the Department would consider a co-ordinated response to recent increases in family-related murders. She sought detail on the location of gender-focal points, the number of people involved and whether the offices were accountable to the Directors or the provincial Premiers. Members requested statistics on gender representation within the Department. Clarity was sought on the role of children orphaned by AIDS within the child-headed households programme.

Ms P Tshwete (ANC) sought further detail on the locations and number of home-based care initiatives. She requested a list of registered NGOs funded by the Department. A breakdown of funding uses was required to establish priorities. The accessing of social grants had been rendered problematic by unhelpful officials and the lack of necessary documentation.

Mr Jehomah responded that funding for social services might have increased over the past five years, but demand was still not being met. More social service professionals were needed to address community issues. The Department had hired new management personnel capable of generating significant improvement in delivery. Recent statistics had been compiled to facilitate implementation of new norms and standards. Delays in the accessing of donor funds would be eradicated through new agreements with roleplayers like National Treasury. Improved internal standards were needed to advance overall implementation.

Ms N Kela (Department Chief Director of Social Welfare) stated that NGOs now had to inform government of financial resources received from donors. The Department had conducted an audit to determine where resources were going and which NGOs continued to benefit. Resources should be distributed in accordance with government priorities to equalise benefits and strengthen capacity within poor areas. A new regulatory framework focused on policy and guidelines would be implemented in April 2006 to improve monitoring and promote institution-building. The Department had a skills retention strategy to maintain the required level of service delivery. NGO capacity would also be enhanced to improve overall delivery. Rural allowances would continue to be used to incentivise rural location and counteract emigration and private sector appointments. The retention strategy focused on improved salaries, training, service standards and capacity-building. A norms and standards framework would be created once all relevant statistics had been compiled. The numbers of social workers in rural areas would have to be increased and resources redistributed.

Ms V Ngcobo-Mbere (Department Chief Director: Children) added that auxillary workers for social workers would be considered to alleviate current work demands. This would be similar to the system incorporated within the Health Department for nurses.

Ms Vos referred to the large numbers of matriculants unable to obtain tertiary education. They could be utilised as auxillary workers to meet demand. Resources could be obtained to finance training and the Education Department could be involved. Legislative changes might be required to redirect lottery funds into social-aligned activities.

Ms Tshwete noted that the Health and Social Development Departments had endured similar problems and suggested that co-ordinated strategies be formulated through dialogue.

The Chairperson expressed a concern over conditional grant allocations to provinces and sought clarity on the current practice and possible reasons for delays. She alluded to the role of certain medical practitioners in facilitating patient accessability to social grants.

Ms Kela replied that the Lotteries Board was located within the Department of Trade and Industry. It had agreed that the current rules could be amended to encourage a diversity in social recipients. Current services would be repackaged to maximise resources and address the shortage of social workers. ‘Paraprofessionals’ such as auxillary workers, required meaningful supervision from social workers. Adequate supervisors had to be present to avoid the creation of additional problems. Therefore extra social workers were required. Community development workers were in place to assist social workers and development practitioners in the field, and the envisaged Human Resources plan would refine the arrangement. Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres were in place to contribute to the EPWP and provide learnerships to aspiring social workers.

Dr C Malega Kganakga (Department Chief Director of HIV/AIDS) asserted that 240 000 child-headed households had been identified in 2003, and the database was updated regularly. The government policy on orphans and vulnerable children had been informed by numerous sources, including civil society groups. The governing principle was to keep children within homes and communities in order to internalise community values and traditions. The Department would support community caregivers. The policy framework would be completed shortly. An information management system would be established that identified problem areas, numbers of orphans and vulnerable children. Information would be gathered at community level. The Department would supply Members with a list of home-based programmes funded by the government. Home- and community -based care did not only focus on funding provision. Organisations had to provide a business plan and a list of services offered to qualify for assistance. Results could be measured against these business plans and management training could be facilitated. Income-generating programmes would be encouraged to ensure sustainability of home-based care programmes.

Ms Ngcobo-Mbere added that the courts would designate an adult supervisor for child-headed households as stipulated by the Children's Bill. The Bill would facilitate the creation of day-care facilities for vulnerable children under the supervision of nominated caregivers. The Department wanted to actively participate in the EPWP rather than be perceived as a mere provider of resources. All implementation plans within the Department had to be approved by Cabinet. Trauma Centres within police stations served as an interim measure before shelters or other facilities could be accessed. Members would receive details on numbers of shelters and locations in due course. The Department recognised children orphaned created by family murders as especially in need of care. The Department had established a trauma management office to encourage victim empowerment.

Ms Kela reiterated that a primary function of the Department was to prevent women and child abuse and to create awareness of issues. The Office of the Status of Women in the Presidency would reconsider the role of shelters within the overall strategy.

Ms L Peloeshae (Department Deputy Director: Gender) stated that the national framework for gender issues comprised co-ordination and institutional mechanisms components. Gender focal points had been established in Mpumalanga and North West provinces, and more would be set up in due course. Approximately 60% gender parity had been achieved within the Department and a comprehensive profile would be forwarded to Members. The gender budget entailed R850 000 specifically for gender focal points, but other line function budgets incorporated gender-related initiatives.

Mr Jehomah added that agricultural initiatives had begun in times of escalating food prices to assist communities to meet nutritional needs. The subsequent stabilisation in increases had reduced Treasury allocations and resulted in a discontinuation of agricultural support. Standards were in place to improve social grant access and timelines. Challenges remained within KwaZulu-Natal, characterised by over-expenditure and fraud. The management information system would identify weak points and assist in reducing variable service delivery.

Ms Themba asked which provinces had acquired gender focal points and whether additional information could be provided so Members could facilitate follow-ups with the provinces concerned. She asked whether the Department had a specific gender policy and whether a fully-fledged gender unit was in place.

The Chairperson added that future interaction would be also necessary to further debate gender issues and other crucial matters pertaining to the recent Beijing Conference.

The meeting was adjourned.


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