ECD Centre Registration: Unpacking the Processes, Challenges and Possible Solutions

South African law requires that Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centres be registered to comply with norms and standards. If centres aren’t registered, they are unable to access government funding or other support intended to improve service quality. Given that there are approximately 40 000 centres in South Africa, this process becomes an administrative obstacle for the departments responsible for registration. Furthermore, there is a lack of knowledge around the different subsidies available for ‘partial care’ registration and programme registration. The difficulties of the process and the implications for centres need to be better understood.

In response to the issue of ECD centre registration, the last meeting of the ECD community of practice (CoP) brought together a panel of individuals knowledgeable about different aspects of the process.

The panel involved Jade Trueman, a social worker in the Department of Social Development;  Lisa Januário from ECD Upliftment Projects; Nomusa Buthelezi from Network Action Group; Busisiwe Masemola from Ekhurhuleni Metrol City Planning and Abram Kakgari from Oratile ECD Centre in Diepsloot. Each panellist described their various roles in the registration process, highlighting some of the associated challenges and solutions. Various issues were raised during the discussions, some of which included:

– Fees and costs: Many ECD centres – for example, those in informal settlements, or those with parents who don’t pay fees – battle with costs. How are they supposed to find the money to pay for costs such as municipal contributions? Is there such a thing as an ‘exempt’ status?

– Differentiation: It would appear that processes for registration, while ‘standardised’ at a very high level, are not so in reality. While this could perhaps be a good thing in some instances (e.g. that there is some flexibility in criteria regarding outdoor playing space, for example, according to different environmental contexts), it is also a problem in that there is no consistency in the process.

– Knowledge and information: There are several dimensions to the lack of knowledge around registration processes.

– Systemic and equity issues: In many provinces only a small percentage of creches are registered. Social workers are supposed to be involved facilitating the registration process, but often there is a lack of human resource capacity to carry this out. Why should the process be so complex that a centre needs to hire external experts to assist them?

In response to the above issues and others, the ECD CoP brainstormed ideas for how the CoP could add value and possibly make a contribution.  For more details, read the Meeting Highlights Report by clicking here.