17/02/2012. Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini during a Media briefing held in Southern Sun Hotel yesterday. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi

More than half of SA’s children get child support, up dramatically from 70 000 in 1998 to nearly 11 million.

According to the UCT-based Children’s Institute, there were more than 18 million children in SA in 2010.

Addressing the launch of the Child Support Grant Impact Assessment Report in Gugulethu this week, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini said:

“Guided by the constitutional requirement of progressive realisation of the right to access to social security, the government has steadily ensured that all children up to the age of 18 are brought into the social grants system.”

This financial year’s allocation for social grants is less than 3.5 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, and Dlamini said the CSG programme will receive less than 1.5 percent of the GDP. The government is planning to spend about R105 billion in this financial year to provide for all its social grants.

CSG is the largest of the country’s social cash transfer programmes.

The assessment report showed that children who received CSG from birth had strong capabilities and grew up with a lower risk of being trapped in poverty.

The study also found that access to the grant could break the inter-generational transmission of poverty. Other benefits include:

* Early enrolment in the CSG reduced the likelihood of the child becoming ill.

* Receipt of the CSG reduced adolescent absenteeism at school.

* The CSG reduced significantly risky behaviours such as sexual activity, pregnancy, alcohol and drug use as well as criminal activities.

The study, commissioned by the Department of Social Development, Unicef and the SA Social Security Agency, was undertaken by a group of international experts co-ordinated by the Economic Policy Research Institute.

The institute’s director of research, Dr Michael Samson, said the grant had reduced poverty by 37.5 percent.

Samson said social grants addressed historical legacies of disadvantage. “The impact of the unconditional Child Support Grant in South Africa is the same as that of conditional child support grants around the world.”

To qualify for CSG, the applicant must be the primary care-giver of the child or children for whom the application is made. The applicant and spouse must meet the requirements of the means test (wealth test) and one cannot apply for more than six non-biological children.

“To holistically tackle poverty we must complement the social grants programme with the expansion of early childhood development services, the school nutrition programme, targeted free education and access to comprehensive health services to all children,” Dlamini said.

Weekend Argus