New research on government and donor funding of services required under the Children’s Act has pointed to a serious shortfall in funding for essential child care and protection services. There is a need to grow both government and donor funding to reach all children who require the services.
The Children’s Act governs the child care and protection system. It is aimed at giving effect to children’s constitutional rights to family care or alternative care, social services and protection from abuse, neglect and exploitation. To give effect to these rights, the Children’s Act requires government to provide and fund a comprehensive range of social welfare services. These include critical prevention, early intervention and protection services such as:
Crèches and early childhood development programmes;
Projects run by NPOs that help vulnerable children and families to access government’s major social welfare programmes including social grants, health care, and education;
- Drop-in centres for vulnerable children;
- Child and family counselling;
- Home- and community-based care for families made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS and other illnesses;
- Protection services for children who have been abused or exploited; and
- Alternative care for children who cannot live with their families including foster care, adoption, and child and youth care centres (e.g. children’s homes and places of safety).
With the Act in force since April 2010, there is a need to monitor if the nine provincial Departments of Social Development and the non-profit organisations that provide services on behalf of government have adequate funding to reach all children in need of these services.
The new research, completed by the Community Agency for Social Enquiry in collaboration with the Children's Institute at the University of Cape Town, shows that government and Official Development Assistance donors (foreign governments) are the main funders of the services required by the Children’s Act. Other international and South African donors (philanthropic and corporate) also make a smaller but vital funding contribution.
However, the combined funding from government and all the donors does not come close to what is needed to deliver child care and protection services to all children in need. Both the government and donor pools of funding therefore need to grow in the coming years if we are to realise children’s rights to care, development and protection. With the evidence showing that some of the larger bi-lateral donors (foreign governments) may be withdrawing their financial support in the medium term, there is a need for South African government, corporate and philanthropic donors to increase their funding of child care and protection services.
Click here http://www.ci.org.za/depts/ci/pubs/pdf/researchreports/2011/ca_services_funding_may11.pdf for a summary of the research
Click here http://www.ci.org.za/depts/ci/pubs/pdf/researchreports/2011/ca_services_funding_report_may11.pdf for the detailed research report
The way forward
Leaders from government, civil society and donors recently met at a conference at the National Treasury in Pretoria to discuss the research findings and to strategise on how to increase the funding to implement the Act. A number of areas for collaboration were identified including:
- Drawing attention to the critical importance of child care and protection services (together with health and education) to achieving South Africa’s key development goals and working together to ensure that child care and protection services become a national strategic priority;
- Ensuring that the draft National Policy on Financing of NPOs takes full cognisance of government’s obligations under the Children’s Act to provide and fund a comprehensive range of social services for children, and that it is finalised in consultation with NPOs;
- Establishing a forum for donors where government and civil society can keep donors informed of priorities with regards to Children’s Act funding, and to enable better monitoring and reporting on trends in donor funding;
- Holding a priority setting and budget workshop for the National Child Care and Protection Forum towards developing a consolidated national and provincial budget bid for increased Children’s Act funding.
Key partners who have steered and supported the research and/or the conference include the South African National Treasury, the Department of Social Development, United States Agency for International Development, United Nations Children’s Fund South Africa and the Leadership and Innovation Network for Children.
- Paula Proudlock Child Rights Programme Manager, Children's Institute, University of Cape Town.
- Debbie Budlender is specialist researcher at Community Agency for Social Enquiry.