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STATEMENT BY THE CITY’S EXECUTIVE MAYOR, PATRICIA DE LILLE

Today I visited the Dora Tamaan Early Childhood Development (ECD) centre in Khayelitsha to deliver some of the City of Cape Town’s Play It Forward Campaign donations to the children.

The joy on their faces was absolutely priceless. I want to thank each and every resident who took the time to make donations. I am proud of them for walking the extra mile to help build a caring city.

Play It Forward was a social media-driven campaign which urged residents to donate toys in good donation to our ECD centres. In December last year, donation boxes were placed at all City libraries and on the concourse level of the Civic Centre. The boxes were there until 31 January 2017 and we received more than 100 bags full of toys.

These toys are now being distributed to the 17 toy libraries we have established for the benefit of all the excellent ECD centres in their surrounds. They will also be distributed to the 32 City-owned ECDs across Cape Town.

Children from our most disadvantaged areas will be able to play with the toys at the local ECDs. These toys will therefore bring much-needed cheer into the safe spaces provided by our ECDs. They will also help our children to learn by playing and help with their overall development.A strong educational foundation is one of most important investments that we can make in building stronger societies, and it takes a village to raise a child.

This is why we invest in initiatives like the Early Childhood Development Programme which helps take care of the wellness, nutrition and educational needs of young children. We have budgeted over R14 billion to spend on initiatives like these over the next three years because our goal is to continue the work of caring for families in our communities.

During the last five years, the City has built over 13 ECD centres across the city in areas like Elsies River, Blackheath, Ocean View, Bonteheuwel, Masiphumelele and Netreg. Furthermore, our ECD Programme provides ongoing support to the ECD sector in order to enable ECDs to reach levels of compliance.

We have trained 812 ECD practitioners in the national ECD norms standards required to manage ECD centres and facilities. We assisted 564 ECD centres with required materials to enable statutory registration and compliance. We also supported 58 ECD forums to capacitate communities to take part in the early childhood development of their children.

As part of our Organisational Development and Transformation Plan, our Early Childhood Development centres bring together a range of services.

Previously this function fell within the Social Development and Early Childhood Directorate, but this unit now falls within the Social Services Directorate which also encompasses health, libraries, recreational facilities, parks and social development.

As part of our transversal approach, these facilities are a safe space for our children during the day until their parents come home from work. We also regularly ensure that City Health staff are on site to check the immunisation status of the children, which includes their Vitamin A and de-worming status.

Some ECD facilities also have a food gardens. At Dora Tamaan for example, the food garden is cared for by seven community members and the harvest feeds the children to make sure that all their nutritional needs are being met. Families from the area who are in need, as well as patients from the day hospital, are all fed from the garden.

Our Early Childhood Development Department and our Library and Information Services Department joined forces to establish the toy libraries at 17 libraries across the city. These toy libraries will now provide a variety of play and educational materials to the local ECDs for children at various levels of development. This will help to stimulate their early development, provide them with toys for recreation, and cultivate a culture of reading at an early age. The toy libraries are a shared resource among the local ECDs.

To ensure a greater parity of services, the toy libraries are all in previously disadvantaged areas. Some of the toy libraries will be will be established at the following libraries: Scottsdene, Langa, Mfuleni, Fisantekraal, Elsies River, Melton Rose, Nyanga, Ocean View, Harare, Manenberg and Atlantis.

I look forward to seeing the progress of this joint venture as another measure put in place to ensure brighter futures of our son and daughters.

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