2011/03/05 – There is little doubt that the South African child benefits are worlds apart from many other child care benefits which are available in several other countries, but the South African government does provide support and worthwhile benefits for children, and each year the government is increasing expenditure to ensure that children have access to education, shelter and healthcare.
The Child Grant
This child benefit can be claimed by the legal parents, as well as caregivers and guardians who are caring for a child or children who are age 17 years or younger. Legal guardians who are already receiving payment for childcare, such as from a trust fund, etc. are not eligible to claim for the child care grant. The child care grant can only be claimed once per child, which means – a father is not able to claim the grant, if the mother is already receiving a monthly payout. In order to qualify for the child care grant, a parent, as well as the child, must be South African citizens and what’s more the grant cannot be claimed for a family who has more than ten children.
In terms of qualifying criteria, the following is applicable:
A single parent cannot earn more than R28 800 per year (or R2 400 per month), while a couple cannot exceed an income of R57 600 per year (R4 800.00 per month).
When the social benefit was first introduced, the grant could only be claimed for children under the age of 15, however the qualifying age has now been increased to 17 years.
How to apply for the grant:
Applications can be made at the Department of Social Development. Applicants will need to submit the following documents with their applications:
- South African ID document;
- Child’s birth certificate;
- A payslip, three months bank statement, along with any other proof of income;
- Unemployed citizens will need to provide their UIF card, or a letter from their previous employer;
Processing the application
The application for a child care grant will take an average of 30 days, and it will take a further 90 days for payments to be effected. Once the application has been approved, the grant recipient will receive back payments for the time it has taken for the application to be processed. After which, a regular monthly payment will be made each month, and the money may either be paid out in cash (at designated pay points) or the funds may be transferred electronically into the caregiver’s bank account.
Amount of the grant
The amount of the child care grant increases each year, and currently the amount for the child care grant is R250.00 per month.
For further information on the child care grant, contact South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) on the toll-free help line: 0800 601 011. Callers will be able to find out where local offices are located and they can also enquire about the status of their application.
For millions of South African families the childcare grant is a lifeline ,and this coupled with free healthcare and access to education, millions of parents can now break the cycle of poverty.
The South African government ploughs billions of rand into healthcare each and every year. Children (up to the age of 6) and pregnant and lactating women are afforded access to free medical care at any of South Africa’s state hospitals and clinics.
Pregnancy tests are also offered free of charge at clinics and woman can also receive the choice of different birth control options, like the pill, injection, condoms etc.
Termination of pregnancy is legal and offered at most of the provincial hospitals. A minimum fee is charged.
Pregnant woman can choose to give birth at any of South African’s hospitals. The hospitals will charge a minimum fee.
Vaccinations are administered free of charge at the country’s clinics, and the wellness baby programs will monitor the baby’s overall health in terms of weight gain, diet, etc. The country has introduced mobile clinics to allow those living in rural areas to also benefit from the healthcare benefits offered. The public healthcare workers undergo special training in early childcare and child development and to this end, mothers are able to rely on workers to offer sound advice on childhood illnesses, diseases, nutrition and baby’s milestones.
The South African primary and secondary education system has been divided into two parts, -no fee’ schools and -paying schools’. The no fee schools are based in communities which require state intervention and in an attempt to help break the cycle of poverty, children attending the schools are exempt from paying any school fees. The costs of all school activities along with extra mural activities are also free of charge, and these costs are borne by the state.
If parents are unable to send their children to any of the no fee paying schools, they are then able to apply for an exemption of schools fees at the paying schools. In order to qualify for an exemption, parents will need to prove that they do not have the means necessary to cover the cost of school fees and after due consideration, a full, part or conditional exception is granted. Applications for exemption can be made at the school, and the application is sent for approval to the Department of Education.
Parents who do not qualify for the school fee exemption, are required by law to pay school fees. Parents who do not meet their obligations will be sent letters of demand for all outstanding schools fees and may be summoned to court, if the letter of demand is ignored.
For more on the services which are provided by the South African government, including assistance with adoption and fostering, and assisting parents in claiming maintenance for a child or children, SA nationals can visit the South African online website, www.services.gov.za/services/content/Home/ServicesForPeople/en_ZA where a comprehensive list of childcare benefits (as well as the many other social benefits) are shown.
– Kathy Baron