Monitoring the budget for implementing the Children’s Act is useful to track implementation progress
Section 7(2) of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution places an obligation on the State to give effect to all the rights in the Bill of Rights. This includes children’s rights to family care or alternative care, social services, and protection from abuse and neglect. To meet its obligation the State must ensure that the required conditions and services to fulfil these rights are available. The Children’s Act [No 38 of 2005] as amended by the Children’s Amendment Act [No 41 of 2007] clearly sets out what services the State must provide to give effect to the rights listed above. These include:
- partial care facilities (crèches)
- early childhood development (ECD) programmes
- prevention and early intervention services
- drop-in centres
- protection services (including a support scheme for child-headed households)
- foster care and cluster foster care
- child and youth care centres (children’s homes, places of safety, schools of industry, reform schools, secure care facilities, and shelters for street children)
To make these services available to the many vulnerable children who need them, the State needs to allocate adequate budget to each service area. The Children’s Act says that the provincial Members of the Executive Council (MECs) for Social Development are responsible for providing and funding all these services with the budgets allocated to them by the provincial legislatures.
In 2006, a government-commissioned costing of the Children’s Bill was published, which provided estimates of the real cost of implementing the Children’s Act. This costing provides a yardstick against which the government’s budgets can be measured:
The cost of the Children's Bill: Estimates of the costs to government of the services envisaged by the Comprehensive Children's Bill for the period 2005 to 2010
Barberton C, September 2006
Johannesburg: Cornerstone Economic Research.
Full costing report by Cornerstone Economic Research
Popular summary and commentary on the costing report
Monitoring the government's budget allocations and expenditure for these services, and comparing them to the estimates in the Costing Report is therefore a good way of measuring a province’s progress in giving effect to the Children’s Act, and ultimately in giving effect to the rights of children.
The papers on this web page examine what the budget estimates for the provincial Departments of Social Development, as recorded under the relevant votes, tell us about the provincial governments’ intentions in respect of implementing the Children’s Act.