C-19 Coalition lobbies for extension of relief funding for early childhood centres – The Citizen

Organisations within the early childhood improvement (ECD) sector are calling on the federal government to increase the deadline for functions to the ECD Stimulus Relief Fund.

The deadline for functions is Friday and the method opened on 5 February. Payments are anticipated to be finalised earlier than the top of the monetary year on 31 March.

The R496-million fund goals to help ECD services, together with crèches, day care providers and nurseries, that have been arduous hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many of these services couldn’t open for months resulting from authorities laws. After reopening, many pupils didn’t return resulting from monetary constraints at house.

On Thursday, Department of Social Development spokesperson Lumka Oliphant indicated that the division would subject an announcement on the application course of.

A press release was later launched to say the application deadline could be prolonged, however it was later recalled.

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Two-week extension

Oliphant didn’t remark additional on the time of publication.

The ECD sector is in disaster, mentioned Colleen Daniels-Horswell of the C-19 People’s Coalition’s ECD and Basic Education Working Group, after the Covid-19 lockdown left many faculties with out an earnings.

She mentioned that two weeks weren’t sufficient for ECD college principals to submit functions and that many have been struggling to navigate the application course of.

“The two-week deadline to complete the application process is 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. What is worse is that the central supplier database registration system (an additional requirement for unfunded ECD services) goes down for maintenance after 19:00 on most days.”

According to Daniels-Horswell, by Monday, solely 9 717 out of 29 836 ECD principals/house owners who had began the application course of, efficiently accomplished their functions.

The organisation is lobbying for a two-week extension of the cut-off date.

In addition, the application course of must be streamlined, mentioned Daniels-Horswell.

ALSO READ: Over 12 000 ECD centres have utilized to reopen – social improvement dept

“Applications are done via a digital application platform only. This excludes those who do not have access to internet or a computer/laptop, or do not have high levels of computer literacy. People are struggling to work through the application process using their phones. Data is expensive,” she mentioned.

Added to this, the 2 application platforms are “predominately English using terminology that is unfamiliar and difficult to understand” amongst different boundaries, mentioned Daniels-Horswell.

“The first step (and by no means the last step) toward creating greater access to the Presidency’s ECD Employment Stimulus Relief Fund is extending the application deadline beyond this Friday, 19 February. Given the unnecessarily complex and onerous process, the current two weeks which were given [are] not sufficient for ECD workers to complete an online application.”

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