Department Annual Report 2006: briefing

Social Development

14 November 2006
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Meeting report

PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
15 November 2006
DEPARTMENT ANNUAL REPORT 2006: BRIEFING

Acting Chairperson: Mr B Solo (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Annual report of the Department of Social Development 2006 [available at www.welfare.gov.za]
Presentation by the Department of Social Development 15 November 2006
Briefing Report: South African Council For Social Service Professions (SACSSP)

SUMMARY
The Department of Social Development briefed the Committee on its performance in 2006. The national strategic priorities were outlined and the key performance areas explained. The key achievements included development of regulations in relation to child and family benefits, as well as disability and retirement benefits. Social relief funds were disbursed for disasters in the previous period. Social grants beneficiaries had increased to 11.4 million, and with the increase in the eligibility age, more child support grants were paid out. Service to older persons was improved. A Drug Master Plan for integrated intervention was finalised and the Department facilitated the appointment of members to the Central Drug Authority (CDA). The Department also finalized the draft policy on disability. Sector coordination improved in the Expanded Public Works Programme, and services were expanded in Early Childhood Development services and Home Community Based Care services. The Children’s Bill was assented to in June 2006. Services to orphans, and other vulnerable children were achieved through strategic partnerships.  Foster care placement backlogs were being addressed and monitoring tools established. The achievements were tabled and explained in relation to children’s services, youth employment opportunities, the establishment of the Social Security Agency, improvement of service by the National Development Agency,  and restructuring of the Department. The audit report had been unqualified, but with matters of emphasis, which were explained. There had been 98.1% spending against budget and rollovers had been approved. Challenges included the weaknesses. with the grants administration system, the safekeeping of accounting records, integrity of the non-financial data provided by provinces, and lack of effective management of the information systems. A plan of action for the challenges was put forward. Policy and implementation approaches would have to take into account the complex social interventions, and the need to shift to system-level planning.

Questions by members addressed the need to reach more people, the issue that there did not seem to be integration between disability and child support grants, the need to develop plans for the disaster management centre, training of social workers, the need for better reporting and accountability from the Central Drug Agency, particularly in regard to the possible influx of drugs in 2010, and the need for greater visibility in youth programmes. It was noted that the National Youth Commission failed to submit a report. The awarding and use of the grants were questioned, as was the length of time to implement the Children’s legislation. The process of the  Child Protection Register was examined. It was noted that more funding was needed, and there was also a need for a more coordinated approach on the causes of drug abuse, disaster management and social interventions.

MINUTES
Annual Report of Department of Social Development (DSD)

Mr Vusi Madonsela, Director General, Department of Social Development indicated that the National Strategic Priorities were to create an enabling environment for social and human capital investment, to ensure good governance and leadership in programmes and development, to build partnerships with civil society, to promote social integration, to develop initiatives to build capacity of vulnerable groups, to provide a comprehensive social security system and to steer national involvement in Africa and international frameworks. He outlined the key performance areas.
 
The key achievements were the development of regulations in relation to child and family benefits as well as disability and retirement benefits. The Social relief board was pleased to announce that there were no declared disasters for the current period therefore the outstanding funds were disbursed for disasters in the previous period, paying out R46 million across eight provinces. Social grants beneficiaries had increased to 11.4 million, and the eligibility age for the child support grant was extended to thirteen years, resulting in more than 1.2 million children being covered. Service to older persons was improved with the development of guidelines for the transformation of old age homes, and the Older Persons Act was passed. In the area of substance abuse, a Drug Master Plan for integrated intervention was finalized and the Department facilitated the appointment of members to the Central Drug Authority (CDA). The Department also finalized the draft policy on disability, which would streamline and integrate standards and services, and policy guidelines were developed for the management of protective workshops. In the Expanded Public Works Programme sector coordination and capacity building were facilitated. Expansion of services was achieved in Early Childhood Development services and Home Community Based Care services. The Children’s Bill was split into a Section 75 and a Section 76 Bill, providing for the separation of provincial and national competencies, and the Children’s Act was assented to in June 2006. Services to orphans, and other vulnerable children were achieved through strategic partnerships with civil society organizations, and services were provided to 5 987 child-headed households, and school uniforms were distributed. Foster care placement backlogs were being addressed and monitoring tools established.

The Department set out its key achievements in the areas of services to children. A policy framework was approved to prevent and combat child abuse, and norms and standards were being developed. Servers had been established for Child Protection Registers in eight provinces. The adoptions register was not functional and up to date and guidelines had been approved for inter-country adoption. Early childhood development guidelines and plans were approved, training manuals finalized and training had started in two provinces. The Department had increased shelters and crisis centers for those in need and training of professionals in that area. 750 Social Crime Prevention probation practitioners were trained. In the area of community development, it had developed strategies for poverty relief, social grant and sustainable livelihood links, and registration of non-profit organisations. Social service professionals were recruited and encouraged to remain, subsidies and scholarships had been set up for these professionals to encourage more to enter the profession, and social auxiliary workers were trained.

Youth were developed by employment opportunities through the National Youth Service Programme and youth centers were supported. The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) had been established by the Act being put into operation, a CEO had been appointed, and more than 6 000 grant administration staff had been seconded across. The National Development Agency (NDA) reorganized its processes to improve internal tracking and accountability. Departments had been restructured, there was a high level functional structure for the Department, and the welfare and community development services had been expanded. The Security function would focus on comprehensive social security. Financial management was strengthened and a Chief Operations Office had been appointment to oversee the public entities. A Social Policy programme would support better coordination.

The Departmental spending was reviewed. There had been 98.1% spending against budget and unspent funds from the original Vote were approved as a rollover and would be utilized for the improvement of systems and transfer of staff to the SASSA, who would manage the Management Information System for social security. The rollover from the unspent social assistance administration conditional grant fund had also been approved and would be used for the payment of social security litigation costs and improvement of financial management systems.

The audit report had been unqualified, but there were matters of emphasis. There were challenges with regard to underspending of the social assistance grant in three provinces, and under spending on the conditional grant for HIV/AIDS and the integrated social development services grant. A further matter of emphasis related to the non-compliance by NPOs with their Act, and the lack of capacity within the Department to monitor, and the problems with the dual responsibilities of the Department and SASSA during the transition process. Further challenges included weaknesses with the grants administration system, the safekeeping of accounting records, integrity of the non-financial data provided by provinces, and lack of effective management of the information systems.

The Department reported that the objectives not achieved included the quality assurance framework for social welfare services, audit reports on the Integrated Rural Development Strategy, the anti-poverty strategy and a proposal on comprehensive social security. A plan of action for the challenges was put forward. The macro-value chain was explained and future plans were discussed in relation to this. The role of social development in relation to other departments was discussed and policy and implementation approaches would have to take into account the complex social interventions, and the need to shift to system-level planning. An integrated alignment between all the Social Development Institutions was being sought.

Discussion
 Adv T Masutha (ANC) commented that more people should be reached through social development. The poverty beneficiary budget was R11 million and that the government needed to respond to the need.

Mr Madonsela said that there was a drive to enable the unemployed to become economically active by linking the basic income grant to economic activities. The social security issue needed to be talked about and the Committee and the Department would plan in the new year to deal with that.

 
Ms F Batyi (ANC) enquired as to how a family would be able to survive on a grant of R190 per month if both parents were disabled and the government did not assist further. She questioned whether there were enough social workers and what was being done to address the needs. .

Mr Madonsela stated that a policy framework needed to be developed for those with disabilities.
Poverty measures were not in place and the provinces had their own criteria in that regard. National training needed to be done in the social assistance framework. Disability grants information was referred to the regional office, but the basic income grant did not have a set policy in this regard.

The Chairperson enquired how the disaster management centre was being run and suggested that it should anticipate disasters before they occurred.

Ms I Direko (ANC) stated that the National Council of Rural Women sent five students from the rural areas to study social work and enquired as to how there could be assistance for those who wanted to study social work.

A Department representative responded that the aim would be to train 3 000 social workers but the universities would not have the capacity, so a more realistic goal of 500 per annum qualified workers was the goal. The costs of studying were usually high because when the students were placed, they needed accommodation and related expenses. The focus was to try and keep those that were studying social work at the present time in the profession.

The Chairperson questioned whether this would be sustainable and whether the department was guaranteeing the students jobs after they finished studying.

The Department replied that it was trying to minimize the unemployment of the social workers who were already trained.

Mr M Waters (DA) mentioned that the CDA did not seem to submit required reports at the appointed time. The National Youth Development also did not seem to respond and it was suggested that it be run nationally. He mentioned that drug addiction seemed to be out of hand in the country, particularly among the youth. The CDA did not submit any master plans to combat drug addiction and there seemed to be limited State drug rehabilitation centres.

Mr Madonsela mentioned that there was a mini-master plan in progress from the CDA. There was also a three-pillar system that was been used in research, which entailed a development discussion document which was then submitted to Cabinet. The Bill with regard to substance abuse had been approved and now there needed to be a consultative process.

Mr David Bayever, Vice-Chairman, CDA suggested that the Agency should perhaps report to the Committee every six months instead of annually, and that there needed to be accountability and better representation by the government department on a consistent basis. The three pillars that to prevent drug addiction were reducing the access to the supply, decreasing the demand and reducing the harm done. The reduction of demand needed to be addressed in the communities. There was also a drug master plan that was in progress and there needed to be uniformity in that.

Ms Nomathemba Kela Chief Director, DSD stated that there needed to be accountability. All Departments must be on board in implementing the mini drug-master plan. There were four provincial rehabilitation centres but the goal was to have one in every province and to have a community based approach, to avoid having to deal with re-integration.

The Chairperson mentioned that problems had been expressed with the community-based approach.

Mr Bayever stated that there needed to be a register of those centres that existed but the budget imposed some constraints. He also mentioned that planning was needed with regard to the 2010 Soccer World Cup, and the possible influx of drugs that would occur at that time.

The Chairperson commented that it would be prudent to plan and prepare for 2010.

Ms X Makasi (ANC) questioned the programmes that worked with the youth as they were not visible. She also commented that the handling of abuse in the Western Cape was very disorganized. She pointed out that children were now also vulnerable in schools and systems needed to be in place for their protection. She also indicated that it was difficult for grandmothers to legally adopt their own grandchildren, and it was also difficult for a caregiver to look after children on a grant of R190 per month.

Dr Maria Mabetoa, Chief Director: Children, Youth and Families, DSD replied that it was not an automatic procedure for children to be awarded to their grandparents as a social worker needed to submit a report.  The foster care strategy needed development.

The Chairperson agreed that the youth needed to be involved against the flood of drug dealers near the schools and encouraged the members to assist as much as possible.

Mr B Mkongi (ANC) stated that the messaging to the youth was very important and questioned how the funding could be processed. The government and the private sector needed to get involved. Young people must be involved in messaging to the youth on the issue of drugs, as they knew the best way to communicate with their peers. He was disappointed that the National Youth Commission failed to submit a report as it was important for the government to know what was happening.

Ms X Makasi (ANC) enquired as to whether there was a means test relating to qualification for the grant, because a family with four children and with disability would find it difficult to apply if they did not know how to go about it.

Mr Madonsela stated that there was not a means test. He also stated that the government had launched a campaign for adoption as opposed to foster care as foster care lapsed after 18 months and it was not a permanent arrangement for the children. Adoption was a more permanent solution although there was not an adoption grant or a policy to support that. The foster care process was slow because there were not enough social workers to handle the caseload at present.

Mr B Mkongi (ANC) enquired how the social development grant was used, stating that in some cases the caregiver would not use the grant for the child but use it to pay off debts to micro lenders instead. The issue was blurred with regard to accountability, but it was clear that it was not always used in the interests of the child.

Mr Waters stated that there was under funding of the Department with regards to the Children’s Bill. He enquired why it had taken so long for the tender process to happen so that the regulations could be finalized. He enquired whether the Child Protection Register was centralised to government, and asked for clarity on the ways it would be expanded.

Dr Mabetoa stated that regulations were delayed as the service provider had only recently been appointed and the regulations should be finalised by the end of the coming year. The Child Protection Register was being reviewed and a web-based system was being examined as an easier route.

Mr Segoli, Chief Information Officer, DSD replied that the provinces each had their own child protection register and that this needed to be incorporated to a central system. The technology would integrate the systems. There were now eight servers in the provinces, including a national server, and the Department was in the process of capturing the data. In the child protection register great progress had been made.

Ms Makasi stated that sometimes the social workers were also causing a problem and that this needed to be rectified.

Mr Madonsela summarised that funding was needed in welfare, but there was recruitment taking place among students studying social work and that scholarships were being implemented. The budget of R22 million was an issue as there were no social workers to render the service.

Mr Mkongi raised a question on the AIDS campaign.

The Chairperson suggested that there be collaboration between the related causes of the drug abuse and that these departments should work together.

A Department representative replied that there needed to be a campaign on a national level and that the NDA could not achieve everything that was proposed on a limited budget. Capacity in the provinces was also limited.

Mr Mkongi stated that things needed to happen with regard to the Kemoto project.

Mr Waters stated that there did not seem to be enough funding for social workers and that this need was surely enough opportunity to request the National Treasury for additional funding.

The Department indicated that the total funding was allocated for all projects.

The Chairperson stated that it seemed that there were still some paradigm shifts needed and that the disaster management should be in place before a disaster happened.

Ms I Direko (ANC) was pleased that strides had been taken with regard to SASSA and that the people were better serviced.

The meeting was adjourned.

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