DA presents its Children’s Amendment Bill to Social Development Portfolio Committee to protect children’s rights

Issued by Bridget Masango MP – DA Shadow Minister of Social Development
17 Nov 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Bridget Masango MP

On Wednesday, the DA presented its private members bill, the Children’s Amendment Bill (B19-2023)(“the Bill”) to the Social Development Portfolio Committee, which marks the next step in the progress of the Bill to ensure children’s rights are protected, as envisaged by section 28 of the Constitution. A copy of the Bill can be found here.

The Bill was introduced to protect children that are cared for in partial care type facilities which do not fall within the definition of partial care. Currently, the Children’s Act defines a partial care facility as one which cares for six or more children. Thus, there is currently a legal lacuna in regulating facilities which have less than six children.

The result of not regulating these facilities means that children could potentially be placed in deplorable conditions, subject to untrained or violent caregivers, and be placed in facilities which do not comply with the norms and standards, such as having access to running water or ablution facilities. The early development of a child is of paramount importance, and we cannot risk the lives of children without regulating smaller facilities and ensuring they are safe and up to standard.

The Bill thus creates a whole new definition of “micro-partial care” facilities which care for less than six children. However, the Bill is cautious of not over-regulating these smaller facilities but rather, ensures that they are at least properly registered and inspected at least once upon their commencement. Further, the Bill excludes any family members, domestic workers or other persons such as neighbours from the definition so as not to cause havoc or uncertainty in times where a parent may need to leave the house for a short, once off, period of time.

It was welcome to hear that the Department of Social Development, who also presented on the Bill, acknowledged that there is a gap in the law, and that the Bill does address these concerns. It was also welcome to hear support from opposition parties who agreed that the protection of the child is of paramount importance.

The DA looks forward to the Committee further deliberating on the Bill and we trust that the Committee will acknowledge the importance of this Bill in protecting children at micro-partial care facilities, and that they will vote and agree that the Bill is in fact desirable – which will allow us to proceed with deliberating on each clause, so that together, the Committee can create a Bill which it is both proud of and ensures the protection of children in their most vulnerable stages of development.

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