Over the past few years we’ve put in tremendous effort to ensure that staff at educational institutions – from Grade R and upward – are properly vetted. This process was, in part, aided by compulsory membership with the South African Council for Educators (SACE) – registration or renewal of which requires identity verification, a criminal record check, and a check against the National Register for Sex Offenders, among other requirements.
In due course, however, we’ve also discovered that many Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres and after school care facilities are not always on par with legal requirements, nor are these requirements enforced as they should be. This is in contravention with the Children’s Act (38 of 2005) and the Sexual Offences and Related Matters Act (32 of 2007) that requires all persons working with children are screened and vetted.
So where’s the problem?
ECD Registration screening requirements
According to the Register ECD partial care facilities page on the South African Government website, all ECD and partial care facilities (including those offering after school care services) have to be registered. Registration is contingent on a list of requirements, including completion of Form 11. Supporting documents needed for completion of Form 11 include (among others):
clearance certificates that the name of the applicant and the names of all staff members do not appear in the National Register for Sex Offenders established by Chapter 6 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Form 11 Page 3 of 3 Matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007 and in Part B of the National Child Protection Register established by Part 2 of Chapter 7 of the Act;
Where an ECD is registered, it is subject to continuous assessment by the Department of Social Development and its local municipality. When these assessments are in fact carried out, it is safe to assume that all members of staff, including new appointments, go through the proper vetting procedures.
That’s all good and well, but licensing of an ECD facility is a complex affair plagued by an incoherent and restrictive legal framework. Subsequently, almost two thirds of ECD providers operate in the informal sector (which is why they’re also known as “backmarket ECDs”). This means they are not compelled to adhere to screening requirements, leaving infants and other young children open to many forms of abuse, including physical and sexual abuse.
CarerCheck for ECDs
As such the onus falls to parents and the immediate community to ensure that the institution’s staff – owners, teachers, cleaners, gardeners, coaches, etc. – are properly screened for a criminal record, and against the National Register for Sex Offenders.
CarerCheck makes it easy for ECDs and other childcare institutions to vet staff. Where the usual vetting process is complex and requires a lot of time, we’ve designed a streamlined process that takes care of all necessary vetting procedures. These include:
- Identity Verification
- Credential Verification
- Criminal Record Check
- SAPS Clearance
- Affidavit covering National Child Protection Register Check
- Affidavit covering National Register of Sex Offenders Check
Needless to say, screening of ECD or after school care staff is only one component required to create a safe and stimulating environment for young childre. But it’s a start, and an effective means of protection against possible predation.