Rights groups call for child grant extension

Rights groups have called on the government to extend the child support grant to reach children aged 18.

The groups—Black Sash, Alliance for Children’s Entitlement to Social Security (Acess)—and the Children’s Institute at the University of Cape Town will hold a series of provincial hearings in an effort to gather testimonies from parents and caregivers whose children lost the child support grant when they turned 14.

Acess Select campaigns manager Alison Tilley said they hoped to “amplify” the voices of the poor and make them heard by those in power.

“Our own research, and indeed the government’s own studies, has clearly shown that the child support grant contributes significantly towards reducing child poverty and is linked to a decrease in child hunger and child labour, and an increase in school attendance.”

Tilley said the groups hoped the voices of parents whose children had been forced to drop out of school at 15 because they could no longer afford the uniforms, transport and books would finally convince the government of the urgent need to extend the grant to 18 years.

The first of seven “Child Support Grant” hearings will be held in Cape Town on Friday.

The remaining six will take place in Port Elizabeth,
Grahamstown, Durban, Pietermaritzburg, the North West Province and Johannesburg over the next few weeks.

People wishing to take part and give testimony can call or sms the dedicated helpline on 072 663 3739, or phone the Black Sash Gauteng office on 011 834 836, to register and find out more about the hearings.

Black Sash advocacy programme manager, Ratula Beukman, explained that some of the hearings would be open to the public but most would take place in private to protect the confidentiality of parents and caregivers.

Paula Proudlock, child rights programme manager for the Children’s Institute at the University of Cape Town, said the organisations would be calling on government to provide concrete details of the implementation plan for the extension of the child support grant when they presented the testimonies to Parliament in October.

“We are keenly aware that both the [African National Congress] and the state have promised to extend the grant ... we will not be satisfied until this promise is enshrined in law, and precise time frames and adequate budgets are set out for its implementation. At present, nearly two million vulnerable young teenagers are being denied their Constitutional rights to social assistance, food, and protection from neglect.”

The government pays a child support grant of R240 to children under the age of 14.—Sapa

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