Department of Social Development highlights
In many ways, 2022 has been a year of recovery: recovery from the ravaging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic; from the devastating economic impact of the hard lockdowns. And most importantly for the Department of Social Development (DSD) recovery of services that nearly ground to a halt because of these unprecedented times. This recovery is taking place amidst the backdrop of continuous rolling electricity blackouts, an economy that is struggling and a society in deep distress.
In reflecting on 2022 it is clear that despite the significant challenges faced the team in DSD has worked extremely hard to intervene provide support and most importantly hope to the most vulnerable in our province.
Addressing the scourge of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is one of my key priorities, as it affects too many in our society. Despite financial constraints, the DSD’s budget for GBV support services has increased to R68 million this year, from R45 million in 2019. This is broken into R62 million for the Victim Empowerment Programme, and the remaining funds cover the salaries of 30 DSD social workers allocated to deal with care and support for victims of GBV.
The department led the development and actioning of the Western Cape Government (WCG) Implementation Plan for the GBV National Strategic Plan (NSP). This led to an increased roll out of GBV services and interventions on the ground. This included opening ofthe eighth Thuthuzela Care Centre in partnership with the National Prosecuting Authority, Department of Health, and Civil society organisations, and a sharp increase in shelter capacity for people who have been affected by GBV. Another shelter will be established in the Overberg Municipality in due course.
In October 2022, the first Provincial GBV summit took place with over 1500 delegates in attendance. Here, delegates looked critically at the gaps and strengths of the GBV NSP which will be considered during the annual review of the WCG GBV Implementation Plan.
We recognise the critical work done by our partners in the Victim Empowerment sector, which focuses on victims of GBV. This was among the only programmes in the Department that did not experience budget cuts this year, because we recognise and appreciate this important work. But despite not incurring budget cuts, the sector has experienced a significant rise in operational costs. Government cannot assist victims and address the scourge of violence alone. We appeal to the private sector to come on board and assist non-profit organisations who provide this critical service. We cannot have facilities closing, as it would leave more victims at risk.
Additional funding has also allowed us to immediately fill 54 vacant posts within the department, of which 39 are critical social work posts, many of which are serving our communities in our safety hotspot areas. In so doing, we aim to strengthen the department’s contribution to the Provincial Safety Plan, especially by addressing GBV and child protection in communities. They will offer relief to those social work professionals who are spread thin on the ground, especially in these areas with high rates of violence against women, children, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
In support of the Provincial Safety plan, the Department is on track to assist 18000 families with family preservation services this year and over 3000 parents with parenting programmess. In addition, the DSD will be diverting over 5700 adults and 980 children in terms of the Probation Services Act, assessing 3650 children in conflict with the law, and providing secure care to around 120 sentenced and 850 awaiting trial children and youth.
The department has increased the number of funded shelter bed-spaces for homeless adults from 1500 to 2398 during the past 18 months at 38 shelters (most recently with newly funded shelters in Fish hoek, Wellington and Elsies River).
We have established the first family shelter in South Africa and have also added funding for social workers at all shelters to support with reintegration of homeless adults. As a result, the department has been able to reintegrate around 700 homeless adults per year. Planning has started on a new homeless shelter in the Cape Town CBD, with a once-off R18m allocation in 2023/24 for capital works.
As part of our commitment to support the vulnerable in our communities, we played a key role in providing food relief across all six regions of the province as part of its commitment to the Food and Nutrition Security focus area of the Wellbeing and Dignity COVID Recovery Plan priority. The department funded NGO-run Community Nutrition and Development Centres (CNDCs) to provide food to vulnerable individuals 5 days a week. DSD also funded NGOs to resource community-based kitchens with basic food ingredients to rapidly respond to rising demand for nutritious meals associated with the economic impact of the COVID-19 disaster.
To support persons with disabilities, DSD has funded the accommodation of over 1600 disabled persons in residential care during the year and has increased funding to NPO centres that accommodate children with disabilities. In 2023/24 four more adapted disability vehicles will be delivered to Special Day Care centres for children with profound intellectual disabilities. This will bring the total to 8 special vehicles (15 - 23 seaters) that will transport children safely to their day care centers.
Support to older persons has been provided in the form of funding for 4940 vulnerable older persons to stay in NGO-run old age homes and 728 older persons staying in independent and assisted living homes. Over 13000 older persons were assisted with community-based care services.
DSD has also responded to a sharp increase in the number of children needing care and protection, with the number of children in foster care in the province increasing from approximately 35 000 to 38 559. The department successfully implemented the web-based Foster Care tracking system, which provides a record of all the children, biological parents, and details of foster parents. The system also assists by sending notification 3 months in advance before a court order for a child expires. This system assists social workers in monitoring and tracking children within the foster care system and to reduce the backlog of cases that need to be renewed at the children’s courts.
The need for the services the Department of Social Development provides is ever-increasing, yet resources are under pressure. I am proud that while we continue to deliver these important services, the governance of the department remains at an extremely high standard. Congratulations to the leadership team in DSD for achieving our ninth clean audit for the 2021/22 financial year. I wish to thank the leadership and all the staff who have worked so tirelessly throughout the year, their dedication has never waned. And for those who are working while others are on a break: THANK YOU FOR YOUR COMMITMENT. I do hope you find time to recharge, recover, and rest before the new year is upon us. The only way this department can continue serving those most in need, is if we look after ourselves. And to everyone celebrating, have a wonderful and safe festive season!
Media Liaison Officer
Office of MEC Sharna Fernandez
Department of Social Development
Tel: 084 775 2975