Review of the Child Support Grant
Uses, implementation and obstacles
The South African Constitution enshrines the right of all to access ‘appropriate social assistance’ from the state if they are unable to support themselves and their dependants. Social assistance refers specifically to an income transfer provided by government in the form of grants or financial awards to poor households or individuals.
The Child Support Grant (CSG) is the state’s largest social assistance programme in terms of the number of beneficiaries reached. The primary objective of the grant is to ensure that caregivers of young children living in extreme poverty are able to access financial assistance in the form of a cash transfer to supplement, rather than replace, household income.
Primary caregivers of children under the age of 14 years who meet the criteria of the means test are eligible for the grant. The age limit for children will increase to 15 years in 2009. As of April 2008, the cash value of the grant is R210 per month per child and this will increase to R220 in October 2008.
In 2007 the Department of Social Development (DSD), the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) wished to review the implementation of the CSG. The Community Agency for Social Enquiry (C A S E) was commissioned to conduct a study in low-income areas in South Africa to examine the use of the CSG within recipient households; the recipients’ experience of the application process and payment system; and the operational barriers that impact on access to the grant.
The study consisted of four components: A review of existing research relevant to the implementation of the CSG; a survey of households in low-income areas that are potentially eligible for the CSG; interviews with SASSA officials and stakeholders; and focus group discussions with adult recipients and non-recipients of the CSG. The household survey formed the largest component of the study and targeted approximately 2 700 primary caregivers of children aged 0–13 years in low income areas. Recipients of the CSG were favoured in the selection.