The Covid-19 lockdown forced many Early Childhood Development (ECD) centre’s to close down, hindering the development of children across South Africa.On a mission to support Western Cape’s ECD centres, the Department of Social Development announced that the Khayelitsha Early Childhood Development Forum received a lifeline worth 53 million.
The large amount will go towards supporting ECD programmes and services that have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Khayelitsha ECD Forum Deputy Chairperson, Boniswa Mxhakaza said the funding had come just in time to support struggling centres that had resorted to scaling back their working staff.
“ECD centres were not left unscathed by the pandemic, they are in great need of this support and we are very happy and relieved that the government has taken the initiative to assist where they can.A lot of ECD centres had to cut staff hours and rework their budgets to fit in PPE and salaries, and it was a struggle,” said Mxhakaza.
Department of Social Development spokesperson Joshua Chigome said that the Early Childhood Development Employment Stimulus Relief Fund was part of the sustainable employment opportunities in the sector in light of the high unemployment rate and job losses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.“The fund will work to support various ECD programmes such as registered ECD centres, playgroups, mobile ECD programmes, childminders, and toy libraries,” said Chigome.
The provincial department has also vowed to continue working closely with ECD centres to ensure that the necessary measures are in place to help protect both ECD staff and young children from contracting Covid-19 at these facilities during the school year.