Deadline extended for early childhood development centres’ fund

ECD centres now have until 26 February to apply for relief funds

By Mary-Anne Gontsana

22 February 2021

Photo of a wall painted with child art

Early childhood development centres have been struggling to access Covid-19 relief funds. Now the deadline has been extended. Photo: Mary-Anne Gontsana

The deadline for applications by early childhood development (ECD) centres for Covid-19 relief funds has been extended.

Last week, several centres and the Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD) called on the national minister to extend the deadline for applications for the ECD relief funds. Provincial DSD Minister Sharna Fernandez said she had written a letter to Minister Lindiwe Zulu, urging her department to extend the closing date by another week.

We reported previously that the ECD community thought the two-week application period (deadline of 11:59pm Friday 19 February) was unrealistic. The deadline has now been extended to 26 February.

The national department set aside R496 million to assist ECD centres; R53 million for the Western Cape.

The application process has to be done online in English and ECDs have to be part of government’s central supplier database. The financial support would amount to a once-off payment of R4,470 per staff member.

The C-19 People’s Coalition’s ECD and Basic Education Working Group said government needs to address “the bureaucratic challenges”.

“It is urgent that this process is altered to include informal unregistered ECD services,” it said.

GroundUp tried to get the figures for applications as at the close of the original deadline, but we are still waiting for a reply. However, as at 21 February, 2,558 applications for the ECD Employment Stimulus Relief Fund had been received from the Western Cape, though according to the provincial department database, there are approximately 4,282 ECD centres and programmes, registered and unregistered, in the province.

In a statement on Monday, the national department said that in partnership with the DG Murray Trust it had made available NGOs and over 2,000 Harambee Youth support services to assist ECDwith the application process. “The Provincial Departments of Social Development through their local offices are also available to assist ECD services throughout the country.”