The Department of Social Development has gazetted the proclamation of the Social Assistance Amendment Act, effectively improving the social assistance program to benefit orphans and vulnerable children.
Social assistance is one of the country’s biggest child protection programs, currently reaching just over 13 million children.
In a statement on Wednesday, the department explained that the Social Assistance Amendment Act specifically seeks, among other things, to make provision for additional payments linked to social grants, including the implementation of the extended Child Support Grant (CSG) policy for orphans in the care of relatives (CSG Top-Up).
“This policy intervention empowers the Minister of Social Development, in competition with the Minister of Finance, to make provision for a top up of 50% more on the child support grant for orphans in the care of relatives, who are eligible for the CSG.
“These children will receive their basic CSG, which is currently R480, plus an additional amount of R240 (50% of the basic CSG), bringing the total amount to R720,” the department said.
It said that this provision is an important part of the comprehensive legal solution to the foster care challenge, as it will enable relative caring for orphans to get a social grant quickly by going directly to SASSA without first needing a social worker’s investigation, report and a court order.
“The CSG Top-Up alleviates the burden on social workers contending with high foster care caseloads by reducing the number of new applications and two-yearly extensions. This will free them up to provide responsive child protection and care services to all children in need of care and protection. This is not a new grant but rather builds on the existing CSG system in the form of a ‘top-up’ amount,” the department said.
The CSG is one of government’s most successful social protection interventions for children living in poverty.
The CSG Top-Up will expand on this successful programme, with a focus on the most vulnerable children – orphans living with adult relatives and orphans living on their own in child-headed households – who will now be able to access the benefit for themselves.
This policy expands child care and protection for these vulnerable groups of children.
The department said orphaned children living in poor families and children living in child-headed households, who are not adequately financially supported, warranted a policy intervention for additional income support.
“This intervention strengthens and supports the safety net of orphaned children through a specifically defined additional accessible cash benefit.
“It will enable relative caring for orphans to provide for their basic needs and support required within their extended family environment without removing them from the households they are familiar with,” the department said.
This comes as the country commemorates Child Protection Week, which was launched in Lusikisiki, Eastern Cape, on Sunday and is expected to close in KwaZulu-Natal on 5 June 2022.
The commemoration is meant to raise awareness on the high incidence of teenage pregnancy, abuse and exploitation, focusing on the reduction and prevention of teenage pregnancy through prevention and early intervention programmes.
The campaign further strengthens partnerships with various stakeholders, most importantly parents, families and communities.
During Child Protection Week, the department highlights service offerings and promotes the rights, well-being and protection of children.
Furthermore, children are given an opportunity to voice issues that affect them and propose solutions to them.
In order to receive this benefit, applicants are required to prove that a child is an orphan by providing:
– certified copies of the death certificates of the child’s parent/s; or
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– where the death certificate of one of the parents of the child cannot be obtained by the applicant, a certified copy of the death certificate of one parent and an affidavit by the applicant attesting to the unknown status of the child’s other parent.
The amendment will also facilitate online applications for CSG and CSG Top-Up, which will also alleviate the burden of primary caregivers having to travel long distances or queuing at SASSA offices to lodge an application. This will also reduce their risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Caregivers who are eligible can now apply for the CSG Top Up at any of SASSA local offices and online as of today, 1 June 2022, which is also International Children’s Day.
Applicants will also be able to track the status of their applications using the online portal. Notifications of the outcome of their online application will be sent by SMS or email.