Almost 2000 children may soon be unable to access foster care grants and other forms of state aid.
The East London Child Welfare (ELCW) administration block in Belgravia had to shut its doors on Wednesday after Buffalo City Municipality (BCM) cut the power supply.
ELCW director Soraya Leeuw said social workers had been unable to report to work since the power cut and this was putting children’s lives “in limbo”.
“Fifteen social workers working for our organisation have not been able to do any work and they have reports to submit to the courts.
“The reports have a lapse date and if that date lapses the child won’t be able to get grants and services from the department of social development,” Leeuw said.
She said ELCW took care of 1976 children under four programmes, namely Sunshine (Ukukhanya), Usapho, Child Protection Services and Izanisakhe in 24 service areas in BCM which include Duncan Village, Vergenoeg, Amalinda, and Wilsonia.
The organisation pays R15000 for water and lights a month for two two premises, on in Belgravia and another in Gordon Road in Southernwood. Leeuw said that in 2015, they were hit with a R170000 bill which ELCW alleged was a result of a burst water pipe in front of their Belgravia premises.
“The burst pipe left us without water and our toilet system was also affected. Our clients and staff had to go to nearby organisations to relieve themselves,” she said.
The organisation survives on a subsidy from the department of social development and donations from businesses. In 2015,however, it started experiencing financial constraints and social workers were leaving due to low morale and low pay.
“Subsidy payouts from the department are staggered. In the last quarter of 2016-17 financial year, we haven’t been funded.
“Eight days into the new financial year, we still haven’t signed a service level agreement form. At least 14 social workers won’t be paid in April,” she said.
Leeuw also revealed that the organisation would need a R2-million bailout to run efficiently for the next six months.
“We are behind with all our payments for the day-to-day operations and if it comes to a push, we may be forced to close,” Leeuw said.
By the time of writing, the Eastern Cape social development spokesman Mzukisi Solani had not responded to questions on how the 100-year-old welfare organisation had reached this crisis point.
BCM spokesman Sibusiso Cindi declined to comment immediately and told the the Dispatch to scan and e-mail the ELCW water and lights bill to him.