Child Commissioner Report: 54% of Western Cape children live with both parents
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Cape Town - Only 50 complaints or enquiries were received by the office of the Western Cape Commissioner for Children between June last year and May this year regarding issues affecting children.
Of the complaints received, the majority (65%) were linked to the Department of Social Development, while 34% of enquiries or complaints to the office were linked to the Western Cape Education Department.
The complaints ranged from child and family cases, development and research, restorative services to social welfare.
This was contained in the 2020/2021 annual report released by the Western Cape Child Commissioner, Christina Nomdo.
Nomdo said complaints mechanisms in the office would need to be strengthened to enhance accountability in governance and more focus would be placed on investigations in response to issues raised by children.
The report detailed, among other things, the journey of Nomdo’s first year in office alongside her child government monitors and includes a situational analysis of children in the province regarding their state of health and wellness, access to early childhood development programmes, education and social assistance.
Nomdo said this situational analysis would serve as a baseline report of childhood indicators; which would be tracked annually to determine points of advocacy and intervention.
In the province, Nomdo said the proportion of children living with both parents was significantly higher than the national average, with around half of children residing with both parents (54%) while the number of children living with neither parent was relatively low, at 8%.
“Many children in South Africa do not live consistently in the same household as their biological parents. The national percentage of children living with both parents decreased from 39% in 2002 to 34% in 2018.
“In 2018, 43% of all children (8.5 million children) lived with their mothers but not with their fathers, whereas only 3% of children lived in households where their fathers are present and their mothers absent,”the report explained.
“There is substantial provincial variation within these patterns. In the Western Cape, the proportion of children living with both parents is significantly higher than the national average, with around half of children residing with both parents (54%).
“Similarly, the number of children living with neither parent is relatively low in the Western Cape, demonstrated by 8% of children living with neither of their biological parents.”
She said access to social assistance was a crucial right to alleviate the experience of poverty and during the Covid-19 pandemic poverty and deprivation were more exacerbated, which had a knock-on effect for childhood poverty.
“According to Stats SA, access to all child support-related grants has been the lowest in the Western Cape since 2014 – and is consistently ranked as below the national average. This most likely owes to lower levels of income poverty experienced in the province,” she said.
Nomdo said while high numbers of children in the province were benefiting from their right to education access, the quality of education in the Western Cape has, however, straggled behind, which she said was on par with national performance rates.
She said this was demonstrated by low levels of literacy and maths outcomes for Grades 3 and 9, and the low rates of Bachelor passes in the NSC. She said education access and quality had been severely impacted by the pandemic.
Nomdo said building a blueprint for a new Office of the Commissioner was under way and with more staff coming on board the office could start focusing on building its systems, policies and procedures for effective functioning.