DSD provides access of development services for disabled children
Care and services to children with severe and profound disabilities will become more accessible, as Western Cape Minister of Social Development, Ms Sharna Fernandez hands over an adapted vehicle to the Vrolike Vinkies Enrichment and Development Centre.
The centre, based in Ceres, provides services to 51 children with disabilities. This is the third of four vehicles to be handed over to the disability sector, specially adapted to safely transport children with special needs.
Prior to the handover of this vehicle, the distances and cost of travel to the centre created a barrier to access services provided at the centre. The children had to use public transport to make the 30km trip from areas including Tulbagh, Wolesley, Nduli, and Hamlet.
“Our department is working hard at dismantling the barriers faced by children with disabilities. When these barriers are removed, children are able to access important early childhood development and educational opportunities, which includes stimulation through interaction with other children, and opportunities to play and learn. Through this access, their lives are ultimately positively impacted, and their dignity and rights upheld,” says Western Cape Minister Fernandez.
Andeline Coetzee, Vrolike Vinkies centre manager, says that the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in parents keeping their children at home because there were no safe transport options. Carers conducted home visits to ensure children received care and stimulation.
“The vehicle will bring joy to the hearts of children and peace of mind to parents, who look forward to the safe transportation of their children. We can’t thank the Department of Social Development enough,” says Ms Coetzee.
Ms Coetzee adds that many children with disabilities in the rural regions have not been able to access developmental opportunities, and this donation would make a big difference in promoting inclusivity.
In 2018, the Department of Social Development responded to the advocacy and lobbying by the respondents to pilot a transport system for children with high support needs (children with severe to profound intellectual disability and other physical disabilities). Following the meeting on 19 November 2018, the Accounting Officers for the Departments of Social Development and Transport & Public Works with the Director-General for the Province agreed to start a pilot project for access to transport for a specific group of children at Special Care Centres. Delays were experienced in the handover of delivery of the vehicles due the complexity of the technical and regulatory requirements for the modification.
The intended beneficiaries (Special Care Centres) of the vehicles were identified and nominated through a fair and transparent adjudication process which included the following:
• a call for proposal to special care centres across the province, stating the qualifying requirements to be met by applicants;
• presentation done to Special Care Centres Principals’ Meeting, a consulting forum for special care centres;
• appraisal process of all applications received based on set criteria
• presentation of recommendations to the Right to Education Working Committee comprised of representatives