‘60% live below poverty line’. Burden on child grants reflects SA’s hardship

Child grants are not only used for the benefit of children but stretched to take care of overall household needs and other family members, according to the survey by the Centre for Social Development in Africa released on Tuesday.

Speaking at the launch of the report titled “Family contexts, child support grants and child wellbeing in South Africa” at the University of Johannesburg today, Professor Leila Patel, who led the research, said that in many instances the burden of social grants reflected the status of caregivers who were often unemployed and desperate.

She said the report noted that 58% of children in rural areas received grants while only 27% from formal urban areas accessed them.

The report focused on the profile of the general caregiver and concluded that 97% of children’s caregivers were women and most of them had a secondary education while 87% of them were unemployed.

More than 12 million children receive the grants from Sassa (South African Social Security Agency).

The report noted that child support grants were doing well to assist children in society in general, however, it was not enough because 60% of children lived below poverty line.

The report also found that poverty was a risk factor for the growth and development of children.

“It’s also important to note that the most common family structure was one with a single parent and some relatives. [At least] 70% of households have a family member to assist with the care of children,” Patel said, adding that primary caregivers of children were critical to a child’s wellbeing.

Patel said aspects including family structure, family functioning, social communication and organisation and financial capabilities were used to ascertain the quality of children’s wellbeing.

South Africa had one of the highest inequality gaps in the world and that more research was needed to tackle the poverty issue, she argued.

Patel also said 92% of social-grant children were attending school while children between three and five years of age were in a child-care facility.

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