THE WESTERN Cape Department of Social Development has warned of further delays in the finalisation of payments of the Early Childhood Development (ECD) Stimulus Relief Fund to those eligible ECD centres that are still waiting to receive funding.
“The delays experienced are due to the National Department of Social Development (DSD)’s failure and inability to implement a functional system capable of adequately verifying the details of all ECD programmes and services that applied for the ECD Stimulus Relief Fund,” said Minister of Social Development Shama Fernandez.
She said she had written to Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu to urgently address the delays surrounding the verification and processing of ECD Stimulus Relief Fund payments since. This is since it was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday, July 25 last year.
Fernandez added that more recently, the national DSD has now handed over the responsibility of verifying the details of ECD centres and processing the respective payments of the ECD Stimulus Relief Fund to the provincial department.
“This decision comes after the fact that thousands of ECD centres across the country have been left in the dark for months on end as to whether their applications for the ECD Stimulus Relief Fund have been successful or not.
“Now that the provincial Department of Social Development has been charged with the responsibility to finalise the payments of those ECD centres that are yet to be paid, I wish to alert the ECD sector that we are committed to completing this process as swiftly and effectively as we can,” said Fernandez.
The provincial department is said to be in the process of finding an appropriate Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) partner to assist with the verification and processing of the payments of those eligible ECD centres yet to receive funding.
The ECD sector has been one of the hardest-hit sectors during the Covid-19 pandemic due to prolonged closures. This was the reason behind the initiation of the stimulus fund.
The Western Cape government has received R53 million as part of the ECD Stimulus Relief Fund. Of the 3 159 applications made from Western Cape ECDs, the provincial DSD received 1 415 approved applications from the national Department of Social Development. The approved applicants were the ones that passed the initial eligibility criteria set by the national Department of Social Development.
To date, we can report on the following:
- 5 679 staff members have been paid thus far at a value of R23 772 384 at 1 302 ECD sites.