Call to extend relief fund deadline for early childhood development centres
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Cape Town - Civil society organisations have requested an extension by another week on the deadline for the applications by early childhood development (ECD) centres for Covid-19 relief funds.
Colleen Daniels-Horswell, of the C-19 People's Coalition's ECD and Basic Education Working Group, said the proposed ECD stimulus package was going to miss the mark as it must be paid out in a few weeks, before the financial year end on March 31. He is asking for the application deadline to be pushed to March 5.
Last week, several centres and the Western Cape Department of Social Development called on the national Social Development minister to extend the deadline for applications, saying the first deadline of 11:59pm February 19 was unrealistic. It was then extended to February 26.
Daniels-Horswell said the deadline to complete the application process was too short.
"The majority of ECD principals/owners only have time to apply for this relief at night or over the weekend because they are operating centres and programmes with reduced staff members because of not being able to pay salaries."
Provincial Department of Social Development spokesperson Esther Lewis urged ECDs who have not yet applied to make use of the opportunity, saying as at February 21, 2 558 applications had been received from the Western Cape.
However, she said according to the provincial department's database, there were approximately 4282 ECD centres and programmes (both registered and unregistered) in the province.
Lewis said the National Department of Social Development had received R496 million from the National Treasury as part of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Covid-19 relief measures, to assist ECD programmes and services that have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Of the R496 million received by the National Treasury, R53 million has been earmarked to support ECD programmes and services in the Western Cape," said Lewis.