The majority of early childhood development centres (ECDs) are still closed because they are not yet compliant with Covid-19 protocols, social development deputy minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu said on Friday.
Bogopane-Zulu was speaking during an oversight visit to Ann Harding Cheshire Home for persons with physical disabilities in Randburg, Johannesburg.
The Department of Social Development is conducting oversight visits to monitor and assess Covid-19 protocols at various facilities catering for vulnerable groups, including children, the elderly and persons with disabilities.
“Not even 5% of ECDs are open as we speak because they need to be compliant,” Bogopane Zulu said.
She added ECDs had to comply before being given the green light and teams led by social workers from the department were monitoring the centres before they reopened.
Before centres can reopen they have to complete the department’s online self-assessment.
The deputy minister said while it was concerning children were at home and had been for much of the lockdown, it was also important to note some parents were not comfortable bringing them back.
She added ECD owners also had to implement changes which were not easy because they now have to operate under a new normal.
“You would remember [that] in an ECD, three children would share one sponge. Now before they open, they must have three sponges – the two additional sponges for the three that used to share.
“But they also need to look at their own numbers [and] how are they going to deal with the numbers,” Bogopane-Zulu said.
She added the accredited number of children allowed within a centre now had to be reviewed based on their spaces and all those had to be taken in consideration before approval.
Speaking on gender-based violence, Bogopane-Zulu said the scourge continued and was not getting any better, adding the department was continuing with its work of raising awareness.
“Gender-based violence statistics are not going down, neither are they levelling and they are not because of the aftermath of Covid-19.
“We are not there yet [and] as social development, we’re still kicking and screaming, and we’re still pushing hard but they are not levelling, instead they are going up as unemployment rises,” she added.
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