Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Bridget Masango MP.
On 19 May 2023, the DA published its notice of intention to introduce the Children’s Amendment Bill, 2023. After months of hard work, the Bill is now a few steps away from being introduced into Parliament. A copy of the gazette notice can be found HERE.
There is a glaring void in the protection of children in partial care facilities. In terms of section 76 of the Children’s Act, partial care is provided when a person takes care of more than six children on behalf of their parents or caregivers. A partial care facility is required to be registered and comply with norms and standards as well as structural safety, health and other requirements. However, there is no such regulation, registration or requirements for facilities that cater for and provide such care for less than six children.
The effect, in reality, is that certain facilities that cater and care for, less than six children are not inspected and nor are they required to maintain their facilities in accordance with the norms and standards. The result of this is that children are being cared for in facilities that are not regulated, and which have deplorable conditions which would violate not only the norms and standards, if regulated, but also section 28(2) of the Constitution.
The draft Bill thus aims to address the consequences of the non-regulation of facilities that cater and care for, less than six children by inter alia:
- introducing the concept of micro-partial care to cater and care for less than six children at a micro-partial care facility;
- differentiating between partial care facilities (as currently provided for in the Act) and micro-partial care facilities (as proposed in the draft Bill), which would cater for less than six children;
- providing for the regulation of micro-partial care facilities, subject to certain exemptions;
- providing that micro-partial care facilities be required to comply with certain basic norms and standards;
- providing that a micro-partial care facility be registered for a period of ten years, as opposed to the five-year registration period for partial care facilities; and
- providing for a once-off inspection of a micro-partial care facility upon its initial registration as a micro-partial care facility.
In addition, the draft Bill also amends certain provisions of the Act in relation to partial care by, inter alia, providing that partial care excludes care by a domestic worker; by a family member; by an au pair; or by any other person as the Minister may determine from time to time; and that partial care facilities, in addition to being routinely inspected, also need to be monitored.
The DA calls on all interested parties and civil organisations to provide their comments and suggestions on the intentions of the Bill. Kindly submit all comments by email, to the Speaker of the National Assembly at firstname.lastname@example.org and make sure to cc in email@example.com so that we can ensure your voice is heard. A copy of the Bill will be made available to all parties upon its introduction into Parliament.