Revised CSG Fact sheet_November 2007indd

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Revised CSG Fact sheet_November 2007indd Powered By Docstoc
					FAC T
SHEET
ACESS

Extend the Child Support Grant to 18
ACESS, an alliance of almost 1500 children‛s organisations across the country, is calling for the Child Support Grant (CSG) to be extended to all vulnerable children up to the age of 18, as part of a comprehensive package made up of cash grants, social welfare services, health care, education, nutrition and water and sanitation. The CSG is currently only available for children under the age of 14 whose caregivers have incomes of less than R 800.00 per month (if they live in an urban area in a formal house) and R 1 100.00 per month (in rural areas or in an informal house in an urban area). The grant was extended from age 7 to 14 over the 2003 – 2005 period. This extension is a significant improvement but further improvement is necessary. Support for the extension of CSG for 14 to 18 year-olds is widespread. As a case in point the ANC National policy Conference in June, 2007 passed a resolution calling for the gradual expansion of CSG to 18. While the Department of Social Development (DoSD) has previously voiced strong support for the extension, it has stopped short of making the regulatory changes to facilitate this. The Children‛s Institute has consequently supported the launch of a High Court challenge by a mother of a 14 year old boy, on the basis that the Department is denying impoverished 14 to 18 year olds their Constitutional right to social security, among other rights. The case will be heard in the Pretoria High Court in March 2008. Also highly significant is the ANC National Conference in December 2007. A strong indication of support for the extension to 18, from the conference will place even greater pressure on the government to extend the CSG. If the ANC makes a final resolution to extend the grant to 18, Cabinet may decide to announce the extension in February 2008. Now, more than ever, ACESS members and friends are urged to make your voices heard in support of this critical initiative to ensure that the debate is kept on the top of the ANC and government agenda.

Why extend the CSG to 18?
 Because it is a constitutionally guaranteed right. Section 27 provides that “Everyone has the right to have access to social security, including, if they are unable to support themselves and their dependents, appropriate social assist¬ance.” The Constitution defines a child as anyone younger than 18 years of age. Investing in extending the CSG will have significant developmental value. In households receiving grants there is:  Increased school attendance and greater levels of education;  More expenditure on basics like food, fuel, housing and household operations, and less on items like tobacco and debt;  Better nutrition leading in turn to better health and school attendance and performance.  Because a basic cash grant is the only way for children to access many of their basic needs and constitutionally guaranteed socio-economic rights (while there is no comprehensive social security package for all children). Limiting the CSG to children younger than 14 amounts to an infringement of the right to equality of children older than 14.  Because child poverty in South Africa is very high and the 14 to 18 age group is particularly vulnerable. Approximately 70% of 14-17 year-olds live in households with expenditure levels of less than R1200 per month compared with 64% of adults.

Investing in extending the CSG will have significant developmental value. In households receiving grants there is:  Increased school attendance and greater levels of education;  More expenditure on basics like food, fuel, housing and household operations, and less on items like tobacco and debt;  Better nutrition leading in turn to better health and school attendance and performance.

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 Because South Africa’s unemployment rate is high and jobs for younger, inexperienced workers, many of whom will be caregivers of young children, are particularly difficult to obtain. The unemployment rate in South Africa is 25.5% (narrow defini¬tion) and 37% (broad definition which includes discouraged work seekers) . Recent studies conclude that given the levels of unemployment and poverty in the country, public works programmes will barely make a dent. Social grants are an essential complement for public works programmes to meet the needs of the unemployed and their families.  Because South Africa currently has one of the highest rates of people infected with HIV (about 5.5million) than any other in the world. South Africa’s population is currently 46, 9 million [of which 18 million are children. Stats SA and the Department of Home Affairs estimates that there are 235 000 children under the age of 14 living with HIV and that 28% of these need ARV. Currently only 18% are currently receiving such treatment.  Because cash grants, especially the child support grant, make a significant difference to the well being of children (and adults) in households receiving grants. Extending the CSG to all poor children will make a difference to sub¬stantially more households with children in the 14-18 age group. A range of research reports have found that in households receiving grants, compared to those that did not, more household members accessed basic rights such

as education, nutrition and health care.  Because children under 14 who receive the grant now, but have to share the value and benefit of the grant with their older siblings who do not qualify, will be able to enjoy the full benefit of the CSG alongside their older siblings.  Because it will have a significant positive impact on our country’s economic well being and growth.  Because the improvement in the well being of children brought about by their access to the CSG has significant social and economic benefits for the country. Investing in extending the CSG is therefore of significant developmental value.  Because it will reduce poverty and inequality which retard economic growth.  Because persistent and extreme inequality is one of the most serious problems facing South Africa. According to the 2005 and 2006 United Nations Development Report, South Africa continues to be one of the most unequal countries in the world in terms of income distribution with very little having changed since 1994. This inequality has substantial macroeconomic consequences. If there were no social grants our record would be far worse and our economic growth would not have been as positive as it has been over the last 2-3 years.

What difference will the extension of the Child Support Grant to 18 make to vulnerable children?
Children who are HIV positive
Children who are HIV + have additional needs which come at a cost. These include health care, transport to access medical treatment, additional nutritional needs, ARV treatment and hospitalisation when necessary, access to social services such as counselling, and funeral costs. There is no form of general cash support and/or comprehensive complimentary services for children infected with HIV. There is only a disability grant for when the child gets AIDS and is very sick .The CSG is therefore an important means to access these essential life saving services and benefits. These life saving benefits are denied to children between 14 and 18, at precisely the age when some children are becoming sexually active and might thus be more vulnerable to infection.

Children affected/made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS

Children made vulnerable through the death or illness of their parents / caregivers need financial assistance. Those younger than 14 (and in the care of an adult caregiver) can access the CSG, but those older than 14 cannot. The only alternative for them is the Foster Care Grant (FCG). This option is administratively costly and burdensome. It involves an application to a children's court and the input of a social worker. Because of the need for financial support for this group of children there has been a huge growth in the number of FCG applications. The cost is high and it is clogging up the courts and is putting more pressure on already overworked social workers. The CSG can provide essential financial support to children older than 14 orphaned by the pandemic much quicker then the FCG.

Children needing health care

Free health care at hospital level does not extend to children beyond the age of 6. They must pay for medical treatment at this level. Children younger than 14 who are receiving the CSG are exempt from having to pay hospital fees simply by showing their grant card at the hospital. Poor children older than 14 do not enjoy this benefit and have to pass a means test to access free hospital services. The major health conditions that affect children in this age (14-18) are trauma (for which you mostly need hospital care), HIV (for which you will need hospital care at one point or another) and issues relating to sexual health.

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The positive impact of social grants on children’s health is not limited to their being able to access free hospital care. The EPRI report found a direct link between improved health and grant income. Extending the CSG to 18 would see an extension of this benefit of improved health and therefore less need for (costly) medical care (and a lesser strain on our medical services) in children between the ages of 14 and 18.

Hungry children and children with additional nutritional needs

All children need sufficient food to grow and develop and help fight diseases. Many children experience starvation and malnutrition. In the words of a boy of 15 who spoke to ACESS:- “For my side the biggest problem is food. Sometimes we end up not getting any food at home and don’t know what to do…” The EPRI report found that there was less hunger, and more basic needs being met in households receiving grants and that in these households more is spent on basics like food, fuel, housing and household operations, and less on items like tobacco and debt.15 In consequence, there were better nutritional outcomes. An extended CSG would contribute to better nutritional outcomes for children aged 14 to 18 and other members of their households, which would in turn contribute to the improved health of all children in these households.

Education

A recent Economic Policy Reserch Institute (EPRI) report found that in households receiving grants, compared to those that did not, more household members accessed basic rights such as education, nutrition and health care.

Poverty limits opportunities for children and youth to attend school. This creates a vicious cycle of destitution by reducing the household’s capacity to break the poverty trap. Many poor children cannot attend school due to the costs associated with education, including the necessity to work to supplement family income. In addition, communities that are resource-constrained provide lower quality educational services, which negatively affect enrolment rates. Social security grants makes it possible for poor children to attend school and obtain a higher quality education (although social grants are not meant to be put toward the cost of education as a form of cross-departmental subsidisation). In the absence of free schooling social grants do make education more accessible to children. Social grants boost available disposable income which helps to pay the otherwise unaffordable costs of attending school. Second, grant income means that a family might be more able to survive without the child having to work to contribute to the household income. Third, by indirectly increasing the resources available to schools, the quality of education may improve, making education a more attractive option to households. Fourthly, CSG recipients are automatically exempt from paying school fees. While school enrolment in South Africa for younger children is relatively high, there is a marked decline in school enrolment after the age of 14. Multiple sources, among them the 2005 General Household Survey, indicate that the main reason why children stop attending school from this age is poverty. Research by the Gauteng Department of Education indicates that the vast majority of children not attending school come from the poorest families. This is not only detrimental to the lives of children in this age group but has a negative affect on our economic growth. Many studies have shown a concrete link between improved access to education and higher rates of economic growth. Economic growth is strengthened if access to education is improved at a secondary level – the level at which children in the age group 14 – 18 attend school. Denying them the CSG is therefore detrimental to the healthy growth of our economy. Apart from missing out on the general education critical for their future (and the country’s future) 14-17 year-olds who do not attend school will miss out on critical HIV/AIDS and drug education. This makes them even more vulnerable. Research indicates that the CSG has helped enable approximately 20,000 more children aged 6-8 to attend school. If the CSG was extended to 14-18 year-olds the impact in terms of encouraging children in this age group to remain in school or return to school should be even greater. ACESS is calling for reform of the current education system so as to provide for free schooling (no school fees), subsidised transport; affordable and subsidised uniforms; schooling for disabled children; an effective feeding scheme at all

Social grants have a positive impact on employment rates. They provide resources to enable active job searching and are linked to a higher success rate in finding employment.
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schools and during school holidays; a school environment conducive to learning, including classrooms for all, flushing toilets and safe drinking water. Until such time as this becomes available, an extended CSG allows many poor children to attend school. This significant CSG related benefit is denied to children between the ages of 14 and 18 as they do not qualify for the grant.

Children with disabilities and chronically ill children have additional costly needs. For example, special transport for a child in a wheelchair, hospital visits for rehabilitation, medication, assistive devices, and additional nutritional needs. Children with severe disabilities qualify for the Care Dependency Grant (CDG) and children with some forms of very severe disabilities may qualify for free medical treatment. However children with mild to moderate disabilities and children with chronic illnesses, although facing similar additional needs and costs do not qualify for the CDG or free medical treatment. It is important to note that all children in receipt of a grant be it the Care Dependency Grant, Foster Care Grant and Child Support Grant qualify for free health care at hospitals. And if they are older than 13, they do not even qualify for the CSG which would enable them to pay toward obtaining these services and benefits to which they are legally entitled. Until such time as the CDG is extended to cover all disa¬bled and chronically ill children as part of a comprehensive package of grants services and benefits for disabled and ill children, an extended CSG will ensure that all disabled or chronically ill children (not just those up to the age of 13) have some financial support which would allow them to meet their needs.

Children with disabilities and chronically ill children

alternative and would free them from exploitative labour situations. Child labour denies children their right to education, it negatively impacts on their growth and development and perpetuates the cycle of poverty. When households become impoverished, older children are often pulled out of school to supplement family income and pay for school fees of younger siblings leading to lower enrolment rates as poverty levels increase. This is particularly true for children at secondary school level (in the 14 – 18 age group).17 Poor children who remain in school often spend more time contributing to the household income and “As a result they are less likely to spend out-of-school hours on school work, more likely to be absent from school during periods of peak labour demand, and more likely to be tired and ill-prepared for learning when they are in the classroom.”18

Child-headed households

The HIV/AIDS pandemic has resulted in a growing incidence of child headed households. The children heading these households are often forced into exploitative labour situations to secure their needs and the needs of younger siblings. They do not qualify for the grant if they are over the age of 14, and even then, these households cannot access the grant for eligible children within the household because only an adult caregiver can do so. Extending the grant to 18 and making sure that child headed households can access grants would provide financial support to this very vulnerable group of children.

Can the government afford and deliver an extended CSG?

Children in exploitative labour

Poor children aged 14-18 are especially vulnerable to becoming involved in child labour to secure their basic needs such as food, clothing and education. Extending the Child Support Grant to 18 would provide child labourers with an economic
1 The General Household Survey of 2005 2 Statistics South Africa Labour Force Survey, 2006 3 Kathleen McKenzie Business Report: 14 October, 2007 4 Statistics South Africa 5 Statistics South Africa and the Department of Home Affairs in UNICEF 2005 report 6 Including the EPRI’s Social and Economic Impact of South Africa’s Social Security 7 EPRI,

In 2007 the CSG constituted 31% of the entire social assistance budget. Extending the grant to 18 would only increase the proportion to 38%. Overall, the social security budget would only need to extend by approximately 10% to accommodate the extension. With the creation of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) the government is better placed then ever to extend CSG as the entire administrative structure necessary for such an initiative is already in place.
EPRI, 2004, page 83 EPRI, 2004, pages 130-131 Budlender & Wollard. The impact of the South African child support and old age grants on children’s schooling and work. ILO, Geneva. 11 EPRI, The Impact of Social Security on School enrolment in South Africa, 2001, page 5 12 EPRI, 2001, page 5 World Bank (2001) Budlender D. et al The cost of the means test for the child support grant. Children’s Institute & 13 Centre for Actuarial Research, UCT. June, 2005:
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System.”

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For more information about the call for the extension of the CSG to 18 or to join our alliance, contact Karen Allan at Karen@acess.org.za, or on (021) 761 0117, or visit our website at www.acess.org.za

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Description: Revised CSG Fact sheet_November 2007indd