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Social Development

Enjoy reading the insights of a remarkable woman, Ms. Nonqaba Ntsona from her extensive experiences in social services. She is a qualified Social Worker and Training Facilitator at Early Inspiration.
Nonqaba Ntshona Social Worker

The Situation

South Africa, a country rich in culture and diversity, is dedicated to ensuring a better future for its youngest citizens. When it comes to social development for children aged 0-6, we need to look at how social grants, healthcare, and education are shaping their lives. This article will explore the situation, using both statistics and stories to paint a clear picture of what's happening for South African children. Whether in the bustling cities or the quiet rural areas, every child's journey is influenced by the efforts of caregivers, policymakers, and communities striving to give them the best start in life. 

Children aged 0-6 are among the most vulnerable members of society, and their well-being is crucial for building a healthy and prosperous future. However, sadly, many face significant social ills that hinder their development and prospects. In this article, we’ll learn some of these challenges and consider potential solutions to ensure every child can become the best they can be.

Child Support Grant 

Social grants are like a helping hand for many families in South Africa, providing money to cover basic needs and support children's growth. Around 12.8 million children receive these grants, with the Child Support Grant being the most important. This grant gives a monthly payment to caregivers of children under 18, helping to reduce poverty and improve children's lives. 

These grants don't just help financially; they also make a big difference in other ways. Research shows that families getting the Child Support Grant often see improvements in things like food, healthcare, and education for their kids. But there are still challenges, like not everyone who needs a grant can get one, especially in rural areas. Fixing these problems needs everyone to work together, from the government to local groups, to make sure every child who needs help can get it. 

There are about 47% children in South Africa relying on government social grants for basic needs (Steyn,2023). There are laws and policies especially made for assuring the wellbeing of children in our society. These laws entail the balancing of rights and responsibilities for children, families, and state. These structures are developed to achieve and overcome poverty, inequality, and protection services to children.     

Government grant money for children is allocated to support their well -being, education, healthcare, and overall development (Zulu,2019). These grants aim to provide financial assistance to families to ensure that children have access to necessities, such as food, shelter, education supplies, and healthcare services. They can also be used to fund programmes and initiatives specifically designed to enhance the welfare of children, such as early childhood education programmes, child subsidies, and youth development initiatives. The goal is to invest in the future of the nation by supporting the healthy growth and development of the child. 

Misused grant money for children can have detrimental effects. It could lead to inadequate resources for education, healthcare, or social services, impacting their overall well-being and development. Parents/ Caregivers might misuse grant money meant for kids by using it for personal expenses unrelated to the child’s needs, such as paying bills and buying luxury items, ort funding their own activities. They might also fail to use the funds for the intended purpose, such as education or healthcare, instead diverting it elsewhere. Lack of oversight, or financial pressures could contribute to such misuse. Misusing grant money for children also undermines trust in the organization meant to support children and many perpetuates the cycle of poverty and inequality.  

Parents should seek and attend provided support for families, such as counselling, parenting classes and programmes, childcare services, or employment assistance to address underlying issues contributing to misuse of social grants.

202406 BM Social Development Blog

The Importance of Education in our Children Lives 

As parents, we all want what’s best for our children, and it’s undeniable that education plays a pivotal role in shaping their future success, happiness, and contribution to society. We all need to collectively ensure they receive the best educational opportunities. This approach emphasizes shared values and the collective responsibility we have in nurturing our children’s educational journey. 

The brain is a very important part of the human body. Brain cells are formed before the child is born and are important for the holist development of a child. Children’s brains need to be stimulated for the network of connections to grow and be protected from being discarded (Gordon & Browne 2028). At the age of five, the child’s brain has reached 90 percent of its adult size and the child’s emotional, behavioral, cognitive and social foundation is in place for the rest of their lives (Stretch 2009). 

Parents need to be aware of their role in their children’s education and supporting them in this journey. This is crucial for laying the foundation for lifelong learning and holistic development of a child. This involves the following:   

  • Play Development 
  • Cognitive development 
  • Social and Emotional Development. 
  • Language Development 
  • Cultural Sensitivity 
  • Community Engagement 
  • Parent / Teacher teamwork

If this is not happening, that means children’s education life is being infringed. Parents can inadvertently infringe on their children’s life in many ways, involving lack of involvement, neglecting their children, not being supportive in the learning journey of the child, failing to address learning difficulties of the child in time. It is very important for parents to stay relevant and engaging with their children’s education and provide support for their academic achievements.   

How to keep our children Healthy 

Parents must be proactive when it comes to their children’s health. You need to take them to their immunizations and do follow-up care at the clinic. The Road to Health book is an invaluable resource for parents. It offers guidance on nutrition and immunization to developmental milestones. It empowers you to make informed decisions and track the progress of your child. It gives you step by step guidelines on parenthood.  

As parents we need to make our home a healthy living environment for our children. Children need a secure place to call home. Children need to be kept away from domestic violence as it exposes children to fear, anger, guilt, and shame. Exposing your children to domestic violence is putting their health in jeopardy. Becoming a parent means taking responsibility for the physical, emotional and financial wellbeing of your child, providing health, safety and everything that is required for their growth. 

Essential Guidelines for Healthy Eating 

Nutrition plays a vital role in shaping our children’s health and growth. Parents play a very important part in providing children with the nourishment they need to grow healthy and strong. Parents need to be positive role models by demonstrating healthy eating habits. When children see their parents doing the right thing, they are more likely to follow in their footsteps. Limiting Junk food, sugary drinks, process foods and fast food and provide strategies and alternatives of introducing healthy food earlier on in their lives.    

It is important for parents and caregivers to attend programmes of education and awareness, and campaigns about the importance of social grants for the intended purpose, including the child’s well-being, education, healthcare, and nutrition. Offering financial literacy programmes is great in helping parents better manage their finances, budget effectively, and make informed decisions about how to use social grant money responsibly. Government needs to put in place implementation of monitoring and oversight mechanisms to ensure that social grant funds are being used appropriately, including regular audits and reviews on how the money is being spent. 

As we conclude our article it’s clear that these challenges demand our immediate attention and concerted action. Every child deserves a safe and nurturing environment in which to grow and thrive. By acknowledging and addressing the social factors that impact their well-being, we can work towards building a bright future for the next generation. Let us commit to advocating for policies and initiatives that prioritize the needs of our youngest citizen, ensuring that no child is left behind.