The Management and Financial Impact of Government Funding on Residential Children’s Homes

Author: Dixon, Richard F C
Supervisor: Professor Dr Pieter G Steyn
Date: September 2005

This study has been conducted amongst the CBO / NPO / NGO1, private, faith based and family run children’s homes2 providing residential care facilities for children who fall under the jurisdiction of the courts and which receive a financial subsidy from the government.

The study is of most interest to policy makers but also provides valuable information to NPO / NGO and CBO organisations working in children’s homes. This study has also highlighted an urgent need for further research on children in residential care.

The children resident in these homes are wards of the state. It is for this reason that the Department of Social Development financially supports homes that look after these children. One of the single greatest challenges these children homes face is finance. This study was conducted to highlight some of the more crucial financial issues

Results show the high costs associated with childcare (in 2002 it was R 1,675.00 per child per month), and the lack of adequate funding and resultant lack of resources and services within children’s homes.

The quality of care given to children directly affects the development of the child and the role s/he plays in society later in life. This in turn directly impacts society. In reality, operating costs are higher than indicated by the study as the financial statistics used were from existing (current) operating costs and not the true cost of operating a children’s home – operating as if with full facilities / resources at its disposal.

The lives of these children are also affected by a wide variety of legislation and international conventions3. The Child Care Act4 was specifically introduced to help these children and is there;

“to provide for the establishment of children’s courts and the appointment of commissioners of child welfare; for the protection and welfare of certain children; for the adoption of children; for the establishment of certain institutions for the reception of children and for the treatment of children after such reception; and for contribution by certain persons towards the maintenance of certain children; and to provide for incidental matters.”

It is the financial support of these homes that needs to be re-examined. Various financial anomalies (including accountability) and some of the difficulties faced by children’s homes surfaced as a result of this study. It is here that government (Department of Social Welfare) needs to focus.

South Africa cannot afford to ‘lose’ any of these children. Investing in these children is a national priority and the government’s obligation to further support these children’s homes only increases.