Article in South Coast Herald – 17 November 2023
The Department of Social Development (DSD) has been in the news for all the wrong reasons, again. The latest is the dire situation with NPOs, and Child and Youth Care Centres (CYCC), which, as of the time of writing, have not been paid. Again.
There has been news coverage about it on various TV stations. Some local workers went to Pietermaritzburg recently to hand over a letter to the HOD/MEC.
Locally, this affects at least eight CYCCs – that’s an estimated 450 to 500 children. These are children who are already vulnerable, or who have been abused and/or abandoned, plus high-risk children. Then there’s the special needs care and the elderly. An appeal has been made to local businesses to please support these organisations in this crisis.
Some can’t pay their staff, or buy food for the children.
Monica Woodhouse, Executive Director of Give a Child a Family Africa, said most NPOs and CYCCs find themselves at a critical juncture, compelled to reach out to the local community with a plea for assistance.
Throughout the year, the non-profit sector in KwaZulu-Natal has borne the weight of constant pressure stemming from the delayed or, in some cases, non-existent disbursement of funding by the Department of Social Development (DSD). “Despite having diligently entered into service level agreements with the DSD, as partners our collective efforts in caring for the government’s children have been met with a disheartening lack of respect,” she said.
The late payments from the DSD have not only become the norm but also pushed the welfare sector in KZN to the brink of collapse. “As we express our distress, it is disheartening to report that several organisations are facing financial hardship. Some are grappling with some outstanding amounts dating back to August, while others have not received payments since September and October. The uncertainty of the funding situation for November and December 2023 looms ominously over our heads.”
In light of these circumstances, they humbly implore businesses across the region, especially those considering tax rebates and similar opportunities, to contemplate supporting the organisations listed below.
“Now, more than ever, we turn to our local community for support. Your generosity has the power to make a profound difference in the lives of these vulnerable children and the dedicated individuals striving to provide them with a better future.”
Monica believes that together, all can ensure that local organisations continue to serve as pillars of care and support for the community’s most precious members. “In Ugu alone, we operate nine CYCCs, providing care for close to 500 children. Our dedicated childcare workers are facing insurmountable challenges, ranging from cash flow issues to unmet basic needs, pushing some organisations to the verge of closure. Despite the efforts of various media outlets, including letters to DSD, ENCA, and Daily Maverick, to shed light on our predicament, their plea for resolution has thus far gone unanswered. Let us unite in the spirit of compassion and solidarity, demonstrating that, as a community, we can overcome challenges and uplift those who need it most.
Your assistance is not only an investment in our organisations but also a testament to the strength of our community bonds. Locally, Child Welfare is in the same position.
Chairperson of the Port Shepstone branch, Cindy Marais, explained how in August this year most NPOs travelled to Pietermaritzburg to be informed as to how the department would implement the new ‘tranche’ payment system.
Many questions were raised within the various sectors of NPO operations. “Most returned home confident that this would be a better option with less paperwork involved. So, the new system would involve us being paid three months in advance. Our first payment was due at the end of October and to date, we have not received anything,” she said.
Most NPOs have children to feed and staff to pay. Port Shepstone Child Welfare has six subsidised positions which it is totally dependent on.
“Going forward, this could be detrimental to our office as we rely 99% on receiving our subsidy. This so that the needs are met in the community. If our social workers do not get paid, what a ripple effect that would be for our office and the community at large,” she said.
“So our question currently is… where has the money gone?”
YOU CAN HELP
|Sr Andrea Khanyile
|073 549 6070
|039 682 1834
|Give a Child a Family Africa
|039 317 2761
|060 574 4366
|064 775 5516
|Alfons van der Galien
|083 409 2328
|Sacred Heart CYCC
|Sr. Nosipho Cwele
|071 925 6490
|073 862 9356