Assisting children in the early stages of life is one of the most effective interventions government can make to ensure they grow up healthy and prosperous citizens, and an important part of DA’s Social Development priorities.
In a reply to parliamentary questions, the Minister of Social Development in the Western Cape, Albert Fritz, revealed that his Department, in collaboration with other government departments and partnerships with the NPO sector, have a range of Early Childhood Development (ECD) programmes. To date, 76492 children have been able to access registered and funded ECD programmes and services and 7753 children access funded After School Care programmes.The programmes includes early learning, nutritional education and parenting. Currently the Department funds a total of 32 service organisations that provide quality age appropriate ECD programmes throughout the province.
The ECD services provided by organizations include; outreach programmes in a format of home and community based programmes, play groups, toy libraries, space based ECD programme, learning programme and capacity building and mentoring and support to ensure compliance.
The DA-led Western Cape Government continues to make progress in the provision of skilled ECD practitioners. In 2010, the province had a total of 848 ECD practitioners trained by the Department to implement the ECD programme, based on the National Early Learning Standards. This total has more than doubled to 1 743 trained practitioners today. The training of ECD practitioners honours the strict requirements of the Children’s Act on programme registration, which is designed to ensure the best interests of all children.
The Department has also capacitated parents and care givers in an effort to ensure they too learn the importance of ECD and have the necessary knowledge to ensure that children receive the necessary care from an early age, with the first 1000 days being the most crucial period of any child’s development.
The DA is committed to facilitating a nurturing, caring and safe environment for children of the Western Cape to grow up in.