A group of Early Childhood Development (ECD) workers, activists and supporters gathered outside the offices of Foundation for Community Work (FCW) in Athlone on Thursday demanding the payments of outstanding relief funds.
Over 16 months after the stimulus package was introduced, numerous ECD centres are still waiting for the Employment Stimulus Relief Funds that were set up to provide relief for a sector that was among those hardest hit by Covid-19 and lockdown restrictions.
In March Weekend Argus reported the Western Cape Department of Social Development announced that it had appointed FCW as a service provider to disburse the funds to eligible centres that are still waiting.
The department received a R53-million grant for the once-off payment from the national Department of Social Development, to pay staff a maximum of R4 470 per person.
There were 3 159 ECDs that applied for the fund in the Western Cape.
MEC Sharna Fernandez said that the delays in paying out the money were due to the national department’s inability to develop a system that would be quick to verify details of the centres.
Frustrated by the delays ECD owners, led by the South African Congress for Early Childhood Development, staged a protest outside the FCW offices in Athlone calling for deserving centres to be paid.
“We are hopeful that all the money will be paid. Since the protest outside Parliament (in March) we have members who were contacted and received the money. But there are still many that are not paid,” said provincial chairperson Theodora Lutuli.
The organisation gave FCW a week to respond to their demand.
Spokesperson for FCW, Riedewhaan Allie confirmed the memorandum of demands was accepted and is receiving attention.