This project aims to promote the implementation of the Children’s Act (Act 38 of 2005, as amended by Act 41 of 2007) that came into operation on 1 April 2010. The main implementation challenges are a lack of adequate human resources, a history of a low budget allocation and expenditure base for social services for children, and the need for knowledge and understanding among practitioners and the public on how to interpret and apply the new law.
Monitoring and advocating for adequate funding
The budget allocations and expenditure trends of the nine provincial departments of social development have been monitored every year since 2007. In addition, donor funding flows for Children’s Act services were researched in partnership with the Community Agency for Social Enquiry (CASE), National Treasury, UNICEF, USAID, and the Leadership and Innovation Network for Collaboration in the children’s sector (LINC) in 2011. The research findings are regularly communicated to government, donors and civil society to promote growth of available funding, and to emphasise the need to fund all geographical areas and service categories more comprehensively.
The project in 2011 also facilitated civil society presentations to Parliament on the Draft Policy on Financial Awards for Service Providers (which deals with government transfers to organisations providing services on government’s behalf). In 2012, deeper analysis of a number of topical areas were undertaken by focusing on government personnel, funding of non-profit organisations, early childhood development, the Isibindi roll-out, and the transfer of reform schools and schools of industry from the Education Department to the Department of Social Development.
Promoting knowledge and understanding
Legal guides and popular articles are published to provide practitioners and the public with knowledge and an understanding of how to interpret and apply the new law. The guides are used in training on the Act for students and in-service professionals (especially health and social services professionals), as well as for parliamentarians and their research staff, and non-profit organisations.
Mobilising the sector on new amendments
The Department of Social Development is consulting on amendments the Act to deal with implementation challenges. An Amendment Bill is expected to be tabled in Parliament in 2013. The project aims to keep partners and practitioners informed of opportunities to participate in this law reform process, and has been facilitating meetings with the sector to discuss amendments needed, and to plan for collective advocacy in relation to the department's expected timeframes.
Researching complex areas
The placement of and social assistance grants for orphaned children living with relatives, and appropriate care and protection for children on the street are two complex areas that have been in need of more in-depth research and attention. Different legal opinions on the interpretation of the relevant clauses in the Act and design flaws in some of the policy choices have resulted in service delivery challenges for these children. By building on earlier research by the Children’s Institute, ongoing socio-legal research and consultations with government and practitioners have assisted in proposing solutions that are in the best interests of all affected children.
Monitoring and advocating for adequate human resources
Drawing on a similar model used during the Children's Bill process, the project has been advocating for the recognition, regulation, growth and development of a range of professionals and practitioners who are responsible for implementing the new Act. A Social Service Practitioners Advocacy Network was set up to contribute to the growth and development of these human resources.
The DG Murray Trust, Atlantic Philanthropies, the ELMA Foundation, the Community Agency for Social Enquiry (with funding from USAID) and UNICEF South Africa have been supporting this work.
Current project team: Paula Proudlock, Lucy Jamieson and Lizette Berry.
For more information and resources on the Children's Act, visit the Law reform page.
Summary: Are children's rights prioritised at a time of budget cuts? Assessing the adequacy of the 2013/14 social development budgets for funding of Children's Act services
Budlender D & Proudlock P 2011 [research summary]
Are children's rights prioritised at a time of budget cuts? Assessing the adequacy of the 2013/14 social development budgets for funding of Children's Act services
Budlender D & Proudlock P 2011 [research report]
Children’s Act guide for child and youth care workers
July 2013 (Edition 2)
Children’s Act guide for drop-in centre managers
Jamieson L & Berry L
Children's Act guide for early childhood development practitioners
Berry L, Jamieson L & James M
Published in partnership with the Little Elephant Training Centre for Early Education (LETCEE)
Legal guide to age thresholds for children and young people
April 2011 (Edition 5)
Mahery P & Proudlock P 2011
Children’s Act guide for child and youth care workers
January 2011 (Edition 1) [File size: 2.84 MB]
Mahery P, Jamieson L & Scott K 2011
Published in partnership with the National Association of Child and Youth Care Workers
A guide to the Children's Act for health professionals
June 2010 (Edition 4)
Mahery P, Proudlock P & Jamieson L 2010
Children’s Institute submission to Parliament on the Draft Policy on Financial Awards for Service Providers
Budlender D, Proudlock P & Jamieson L 2011
Written submission for the Portfolio Committee on Social Development, Parliament, endorsed by a number of children’s sector organisations and presented to Parliament by Resources Aimed at the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect and Molo Songololo, September 2011.