The Opening of Vivienne's Multi-Purpose Day Care Centre in Grabouw
The Mayor, Mr Chris Punt, Deputy Mayor, Speaker and Councillors of Theewaterskloof Municipality
All officials from the Overberg District Municipality
Officials from the Development Bank
All Officials from the departments of Social Development, Health, Education and SAPS and other service providers
Ladies and Gentlemen
Young children demand and deserve special attention. They are the most vulnerable and their earliest experiences have the potential to positively or negatively influence them, their families and their communities in later life. The historical legacy for the majority of children in the Early Childhood Development (ECD) age, cohort has been largely negative as it has been one of exclusion, inequality and fragmentation.
Furthermore, the socio economic circumstances of many families, coupled with the additional stress of the impact of HIV / AIDS has severely eroded their resources as well as the support structures in the communities and place our children at risk.
There is growing evidence about how important these early years of a child's development are. Evidence shows that children who are well nurtured in the early years and who are exposed to cognitive, social, physical and emotional stimulation are at an advantage with regards to later development and more readily acquire the skills needed to contribute productively to society.
Ladies & Gentlemen, Evaluations of early childhood development programmes designed to support development, show that these programmes lead to young children being more successful in later life, and being more capable to deal with cognitive and social challenges and emotional problems. These children also show greater verbal, intellectual and physical abilities compared to children who have not attended a good quality early childhood development programme.
This means that through investing in the early years, business can ensure that well-balanced, socially adept children emerge. ECD is therefore a powerful tool for creating spaces of safety and wellbeing for children and building stepping-stones for the future.
However, ECD cannot be promoted in a vacuum; it relates to education, health, welfare and other systems of which the most important are the family and the community. Only if these systems work together, are supported and mutually respected and reinforced, will we truly be making strides in the care, protection and development of children. We know that despite changes in how we think about children over the years, most important that children have rights, they generally still have little power and low status in society that makes them vulnerable.
The department of Social Development's goal is to turn this around - to make appropriate, accessible, effective, efficient, holistic and integrated ECD services for all young children to address their cognitive, emotional, social, physical and nutritional needs.
For this reason we will enter into partnerships, we will continue consulting and we pledge ongoing support to the realisation of this goal, because we know that ECD programmes will have positive effects on women, mothers, children, caregivers, families, communities and on collaborating partners and institutions.
It is the government's - under the leadership of Helen Zille - intention to address and reverse the above situation by prioritising ECD. An integrated approach to ECD provision and care - which recognises the efforts of families and communities - is one which will give children of our country the best start in life by building a solid foundation of physical, emotional, psychological, cognitive and healthy development.
Partnerships, with parents, communities and all stakeholders in ECD services are therefore vital to ensure that children get this start in life. The fact that we can officially open this centre here today, is an example where the parents, the community as well as the government has showed commitment and contributed to participate in a process to bring about this centre which will include various services for the children of this community.
ECD is not only about a facility where a child can spend the day, but is about a range of services provided to young children to enhance their holistic development and to ensure that they are cared for and protected.
Therefore the Department of Social Development is responsible for:
- The registering and funding of ECD facilities. District Office officials play an important role in supporting the facilities to comply with minimum standards for registration. Once a facility meets the minimum standards, the facility can be registered and can then apply for a subsidy from the Department. I was informed that the registration has been done.
Ladies & Gentlemen, the Department of Social Development, however realised that not all children have access to ECD facilities and therefore, in partnership with the NGO's rendering services in the field of ECD, identified gaps in service delivery and started to fund other projects/initiatives that addresses the need of children who does not have access to facilities. Services are being rendered in the form of playgroups and outreach programmes.
We realise that children who receive an ECD service outside a facility in many instances are poor and do not always have access to a nutritious meal per day.
The department is investigating a way in which such a service can be added to the programs outside the ECD facility.
The department is striving to have at least one center of excellence in each district office area from where such a holistic service can be rendered. The Department has therefore embarked on a process to support Enrichment Centers. This Multi-purpose center will serve as a hub for ECD services in this community.
As we realise and acknowledge the importance of parents and caregivers in the lives of young children, these centers will, through various services, have the aim to support and assist parents with young children in their task of caring and protecting their children.
I am extremely proud when I look at what has been established here as a concerted effort and I want to thank you for this.
I want to applaud all participants for this and want to wish you a good partnership to ensure that a holistic service will be rendered to the children of this community.
I want to wish the governing body, principal, ECD practitioners, parents and the community every success with this project and we hope that your commitment to this service will take the project from strength to strength - in the best interest of the children.
I thank you.