Meeting all the legal requirements that are necessary for childcare facilities to be fully compliant with the law in South Africa has been the focus of SAFE farm crèche administrators for the past year.
And they won’t be happy until their farm crèches are fully compliant with all the Early Childhood Development (ECD) laws and regulations.
Paying attention to the crèches on their farms is integral to SAFE’s conviction that investing the people who work on their farms is just as important as any other investment in the farm itself.
Establishing crèches on the farms that didn’t previously have them and improving existing crèches has been an important focus of the company this year.
That is why, according to Dries Van Rooyen, SAFE’s General Manager of Farming Operations, “existing crèches on SAFE farms countrywide are being systematically upgraded.”
The most recent initiative in this regard was taking steps this year to register two crèches on Western Cape farms with the Department of Education as part of SAFE’s comprehensive CSI programme.
“We are committed to offering the children of our farm staff the best opportunities for learning that we can,” says SAFE pre-school teacher, Ingrid Broodryk.
And this month she took the process of registering two crèches, Besige Bytjies and Woelwaters at Bonathaba and Zwartfontein near Wellington, with the Department of Education a step closer.
“The process demands that the creches comply with a minimum of 20 regulations of compliance required by the law. So far we have received a very positive response from the department to the site inspections that have taken place.”
Ingrid has been working closely with Clerise du Plessis, Community Development Officer in the Department Community Development in the Swartland Municipality, to ensure the crèches are compliant in terms of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005 and all other legal requirements.
The two SAFE crèches are among the 12 facilities in the Swartland currently receiving attention from the Department.
According to Clerise, anyone who operates an Early Childhood Development facility for six or more children is obliged, by the Act, to register with the Department of Social Development.
“Farm crèches provide the first steps towards education for the children of farmworkers, says Clerise. “But sadly, the drop-out rate of learners progressing to primary school, then senior school, is extremely high.
By attending a compliant crèche, these children have an opportunity to learn at least the basic skills – such as basic reading and writing – that will serve them in later life.
“In the majority of cases, the children of farmworkers become farmworkers themselves. But depending on the support that they get, some scholars do reach grade 12 and complete it, and find work and careers elsewhere.
Included in the more than 20 requirements of registration are rezoning the area where the crèche is situated, complying with strict health and safety certification, obtaining food compliance certification and, not least, acquiring “Consent Use Approval” to operate such facility at the premises provided by the local Town Planning Division.
Over and above all the legal requirements, SAFE remains committed not only in ensuring legal compliance, but also that the tiny tots attending the crèches take their first steps towards an educated life.
“SAFE is setting a great example of what ought to be done with farm crèches,” says Clerise. “We are aware that the requirements for compliance are comprehensive, but we are trying our utmost to make the process of registration easier and to help farm managers get their facilities fully compliant.”