Gauteng Social Development targets 200 new ECD sites

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Johannesburg - The funding of 200 new Early Childhood Development (ECD) sites to take care of 10 000 more children are among the targets set by the Gauteng Department of Social Development in the next financial year.

"We declared in 2004 that we want to turn our province into a home fit for children to live in, in so doing we sought to intervene on areas of child poverty," Provincial MEC for Social Development Kgaogelo Lekgoro said on Wednesday.

Mr Lekgoro said the department focused on the ECD programme offering free school uniforms to orphaned children and those receiving child support grants to care for children infected and affected by HIV and AIDS.

"To date, we have offered 227 000 children entering grade one free school uniforms, we expect the demand to increase in the next financial year.

"We have 174 Community Home Based Care sites throughout the province that cater for children infected and affected by HIV and AIDS with some among them heading households," he said.

In addressing the backlog on homes for the aged, Mr Lekgoro said the department would establish day care centres to enable the elderly to spend their days meaningfully, away from solitary life and boredom at home.

He said the department had begun to make meaningful intervention in welfare services for the elderly beyond the pension grant they received.

"We take a long term approach in addressing the backlog on homes for the aged, government has committed to incrementally, each financial year, erect one home for the aged in a township.

"We deliberately went out to identify 10 homes that were in a bad physical state and had no proper equipment, we have helped renovate such and will continue to put in proper equipment where necessary," he said.

Regarding alcohol and drug abuse, Mr Lekgoro said two treatment centres were being built for victims of substance abuse in Mtsweding and Lesedi municipalities with three others planned to be built over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework.

He said the department was establishing local drug committees to enable communities to deal with the scourge.

The MEC further called on communities to put a halt to drug and alcohol abuse, adding that he hoped that when the communities take control, the government will be able to counter the unregulated flow of alcohol in the townships.

"Alcohol and dagga remain the most abused substance in our province, with alcohol the highest, every second bill board in the townships advertise one form of alcohol substance and taverns and so called shebeens are mushrooming literally in every street of the township," Mr Lekgoro said.

He added that social crimes that occur during weekends including the abuse of children, women and the elderly were direct consequences of the abuse of alcohol in the townships.