Theme 3: Early childhood development and child violence

The benefits of quality early childhood development (ECD) and care and their long-term impact on future education and earnings are well documented, but poor living environments, poor nutrition, poor quality education, and widespread violence continue to limit the prospects of children in South Africa. This theme explores how these issues create long-lasting developmental setbacks which drive the intergenerational cycle of poverty. Through its various platforms for dialogue, the Programme hopes to promote a more comprehensive view of ECD, including improved availability and quality of child care and support for parents and caregivers.

Research, both nationally and internationally, illustrates that the early years of a child’s life are critical for development. Furthermore, there is a substantial body of evidence that speaks to the developmental benefits of access to quality early childhood development (ECD) and care. ECD is classified as the process of emotional, mental, spiritual, moral, physical and social development of children from birth to eight years. Scientific evidence confirms the importance of the early years of life which has significant impact on future education and earnings, on health and longevity (Diagnostic Review 2011 and Child Gauge 2012 and 2013).

In a context such as South Africa, where there are high levels of poverty and inequality, with children adversely affected, the democratic government has prioritised the need for interventions that ensure the healthy development of children during these early stages of their lives. This focus on ECD is observed in the Constitution and the subsequent plethora of related legislation and plans, as well as the ratification The impact of poverty and inequality in early childhood on long-term outcomes: Evidence from the Birth to Twenty study    (University of the Witwatersrand)

Objectives: The overarching goal of this action is to reduce disparities in childhood opportunities due to poverty and inequality by generating empirical evidence on the impact of ECD on South African children’s short and long term development outcomes, and engaging stakeholders in government and civil society in using such evidence.

The Family Observatory for Preventative and Developmental Social Work    (Centre for Development Support / Department of Economics, University of Free State)

It is necessary for the social work community and the Department of Social Development to take stock of the current state of preventive and developmental social work in the country and to develop responses to the various implementation challenges.  The DSD’s 2012-15 Strategy emphasises the need to develop, implement and assess the impact of family programmes.  In addition, the action relates directly to the country’s family policy, as described in the White Paper on Families, and the on-going development and implementation of the country’s family policy, as described in the 2012-15 Strategy of the Department of Social Development.


The overall objective of the action is to inform the implementation of pro-poor preventive and developmental Social Work programmes in poor households and vulnerable communities.

Family contexts, Child Support Grants and child well-being outcomes     (University of Johannesburg)

The overall objectives of the action are:

(i) To undertake a quantitative analysis of the NIDS to establish the relations between family context, CSG receipt and child well-being outcomes.

(ii) To gain in-depth understanding of how family contextual factors mediate the use of resources in achieving child well-being outcomes.

(iii) To design and pilot an evidenced based family and community centred social development intervention to scale up the developmental impact of the CSG for families and children under seven years.

Evaluation of the residential care programme for sexually abused children as part of the Isibindi “Circles of Care” Model  (The Children’s Institute, University of Cape Town)  

The overall aim of this proposed action is to conduct an impact evaluation of the residential programme for sexually abused children as part of the Isibindi child protection model.  In addition, this action aims to build the capacity of Child and Youth Care Workers (CYCW) to enhance their child protection responses.

The aim of the Isibindi model is to develop a workforce of community-based CYCW to respond to the overwhelming needs of children who are vulnerable or in need of care and protection as outlined in the provisions of the Children’s Act of 2005.  The Isibindi model is innovative in that it builds the capacity of CYCWs as part of the social services workforce to deliver community-based child and youth care services to create safe and caring communities and to better protect children.

Alleviating binding constraints to quality education for the poor: Using evidence-based prioritisation to overcome the implementation challenge     (Stellenbosch University)

“The overall objective of the project is to contribute to knowledge that could improve policymaking and implementation in education and thereby advance social mobility, reduce poverty, create a more equitable society and strengthen conditions for sustained growth.

The specific objective is to analyse the accumulated evidence and add to such evidence in order to: (i) identify the most serious or binding constraints facing South African education; (ii) prioritise among such constraints; and (iii) propose tangible approaches to overcoming the identified constraints.

Family cohesion, values and strengthening in promoting family well-being in South Africa            (Human Sciences Research Council)

The broad objective of this action is to enhance knowledge of family-related dynamics, cohesiveness, orientations and preferences in South Africa as the basis for informing policies aimed at strengthening and enhancing the wellbeing of families and, by extension, social cohesion.

Informal Early Childhood Development Centres – a new area-based approach for improved and up-scaled ECD services for the urban poor               (Project Preparation Trust)

The short term objective is to initiate and rollout a new ECD support programme in eThekwini Municipality for less formal, unregistered ECD centres.  The medium term objective is the acceptance and mainstreaming (at provincial and national levels) of: (a) A new evidence-based, systematic framework and method for rapidly assessing and categorising all ECD centres at area or municipal level and on this basis, extending structured funding and support to enable improved care, learning and infrastructure; (b) A new standard of basic, acceptable but less-formal ECD care (and associated new incremental model of ECD support which together will result in significantly expanded access to improved ECD services, state support and inclusion into the state’s ECD system in KZN and South Africa.

Longitudinal perspectives on violence in the lives of children    (University of the Witwatersrand)

The overall objective is to gain longitudinal perspectives on violence in the lives of children in South Africa. The specific objectives are to: (a) analyse exposure to risk factors for violence among South African children of different ages through an analysis of data from the three waves of the National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS); and (b) examine exposure to risk factors for and expressions of violence towards South African children over the timespan of childhood through an analysis of data from the Birth to Twenty Plus (Bt20+) between pregnancy and 18 years of age.

Increasing access and improving the quality of Early Childhood Development in South Africa: Effective early childhood development programme options meeting the needs of young South African children.           (Centre for Early Childhood Development)

The overall objective of the project is to analyse, review and evaluate early childhood development (ECD) programme options which will increase the access and improve the quality of ECD for young children in South Africa.  This will be used to influence policy changes so that children have greater access to quality ECD programmes thereby reducing inequality and poverty.

 Amajuba Newborn Hearing Screening Programme        (University of KwaZulu-Natal, College of Health Sciences)

The overall objective is to develop a model for a rural Newborn Hearing Screening Programme (NHSP). The specific objectives are to:

  • Assess the cost of a rural NHSP
  • Assess the feasibility of a rural NHSP
  • Assess the response of the community to such a programme
  • Determine the prevalence of newborn hearing impairment in rural communities
  • Study the causes of hearing impairment in this setting particularly in relation to infectious disease such as HIV and TB and the respective treatments
  • Formulate a care pathway for children born in rural areas with hearing impairments.

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