Don't suffer, little children

Statistics say that 26 000 children are physically and sexually abused every month. According to the South African National Council for Child Welfare (SANCCW), 60% of abuse cases take place within the child’s family and community.

It’s time to become activists on behalf of children. As teachers, you are in a position to contribute to the well-being of all children.

The council has launched the ‘Eye on the Children — Isolabantwana” project that will be implemented in nine pilot sites and call on 270 volunteers to support social workers in reporting child abuse cases and monitoring children at risk. The idea is for the community to act as a watchdog. A teacher can report the incident to the volunteer in their area and abused children will be removed to homes of safety.

But that is only the first step. The Alliance for Children’s Entitlement to Social Security estimates that 75% of all South African children live in poverty and that a quarter of these are stunted due to malnutrition. The government provides a mechanism for this cycle to be broken through the allocation of child-support grants. Assistance is available in the form of three types of grants:

A child-support grant: for children aged up to seven whose parents or guardians cannot afford to feed and clothe them (R140 a month). The government’s plan to include children up to the age of 14 will be phased in over a three-year period.

A care-dependency grant: for disabled children up to the age of 18 (R640 a month).

A foster child grant: for people looking after children who are not their own (R460 a month).

For information on the Isolabantwana project contact, SANCCW on (011) 339-5741.

For information on child access grants, visit //www.welfare.gov.za/

Applying for grants

- You apply at the Department of Welfare office nearest to where you live.

- If you are too old or sick to travel to the office, then a family member or friend can apply on your behalf.

- You will need a 13-digit bar-coded ID document (applicant); and a 13-digit bar-coded ID document or birth certificate for each child.

- You will need to meet the requirements of the means test in respect of the child’s income.

- Your application form must be completed in the presence of an officer. When your application is complete you will be given a receipt. Keep this receipt — it is your proof of application.

- You do not have to pay to apply.

- If your application is not approved, you must be informed in writing.

- You have the right to appeal to the MEC for social services if it is not approved.

- This appeal must be lodged within 90 days.

Foster Child Grant

- You will need a court order that indicates the child has legally and formally been committed to your foster care.

Care-Dependency Grant

- You must be a South African to qualify (this does not apply to foster parents).

- You must be resident in South Africa.

- The child must be aged between one and 18.

- You will need a medi-cal/assessment report confirming disability.

- The care-dependant child/children must not be permanently cared for in a state institution.

Child-Support Grant

- You must be a South African citizen and resident in South Africa.

- The applicant must be the primary care giver of the child/children.

- The child/children must be under the age of seven (although this will be changing to age 14).

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