Minister calls on National DSD to fast track ECD Employment Stimulus Relief Fund
I am deeply concerned about the verification process that the National Department of Social Development has implemented for all Early Childhood Development Centres (ECD) that applied for the ECD Presidential Employment Stimulus Relief Fund. The system has proven to be dysfunctional!
Thousands of ECD centres in the Western Cape have been left in the dark for months-on-end as to whether their applications for the ECD Stimulus Relief Fund have been successful or not. To make matters worse, the National Department of Social Development has failed to communicate effectively to the sector about the related challenges they are facing in this regard.
It must be emphasised that, the provincial Department of Social Development (DSD) is not permitted by the conditions attached to the funding received for the employment stimulus fund, to process payments for applicants that have not been verified and approved by National DSD. Thus, the turnaround time for payments to successful applicants has been delayed. This procedure is subject to the national DSD’s processes and requirements as stipulated in the policy and guidelines for the ECD Presidential Employment Stimulus fund.
I have, on more than one occasion, written to the National Minister for Social Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu, seeking clarity on the abovementioned concerns. As such, I am again calling on Minister Zulu, to urgently intervene to ensure that there are no further delays in verifying ECD centres that are desperate for the promised support.
The ECD sector has been particularly hard hit during the COVID-19 pandemic due to prolonged closures. Consequently, the Early Childhood Development Employment Stimulus Relief Fund is part of sustaining employment opportunities in the sector in light of the high unemployment rate and job losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of the 3159 applications made from Western Cape ECDs, the provincial DSD received, 1120 approved applications from the national Department of Social Development. The approved applicants were the ECDs that passed the eligibility criteria set by the national DSD.
The Western Cape government has received R53 million and has contracted an intermediary organisation, the Foundation for Community Work (FCW), to assist with processing payments.
To date, we can report on the following:
- 89% of staff (4 477 staff members) have been paid thus far at a value of R18 738 720 at 972 ECD sites.
The time to act is now. The ECD sector deserves answers. With the help of the ECD Employment Stimulus Relief Fund, many ECDs will be able to avoid permanent closure.
Joshua Covenant Chigome
Spokesperson for the Minister of Social Development, Minister Sharna Fernandez
Tel: 021 483 9217
Cell: 083 661 4949