Mike Waters MP
DA Shadow Minister of Social Development
Yesterday, I visited the Geluksdal/Tsakane Child Welfare to assess conditions at the facility and found the centre to be desperately understaffed and in a financial crisis. According to staff at the centre, subsidies from the provincial department of Social Development have remained at the same rate for the past two years. Considering the escalating cost of living in South Africa, it is completely unrealistic to expect the centre to keep up with expenses. Furthermore, the centre applied to the National Lottery Board for a grant of R1.8 million but only received R420 000.
This crisis is exacerbated by the fact that there are currently only five social workers at the Welfare, sharing a load of more than 1300 cases; almost 300 cases per social worker. Out of every financial quarter, there is at least one month where the Welfare is unable to pay salaries.
Adding to this is a lack of suitable property and equipment for staff to be able to adequately assist the children placed in their care. The Welfare has no working vehicles and can’t afford to repair the ones it already has. Further, the centre has been forced to cancel its internet connection in order to cut expenses and the children’s home has become completely overloaded.
The Geluksdal/Tsakane Child Welfare is not the only centre suffering from a financial and staffing crisis. I recently also visited the Boksburg Child Welfare and found similar conditions. Urgent intervention is needed to immediately address these issues. We cannot simply allow centres which care for the most vulnerable members of our society to suffer under financial strain, especially when politically-linked organisations are suspiciously benefitting from National Lottery Funds. It is time for government to get their priorities right.
I will be writing to the Minister of Social Development regarding the funding model used as it is unacceptable that organizations providing essential services, on the government’s behalf, are always underfunded and living from hand to mouth.