There are several childcare options on offer in this part of the world. Use this guide to learn more about au pair agencies in South Africa, child support, finding a nanny, preschool systems, and more.
Looking for childcare solutions in South Africa? This comprehensive guide will give you a rundown of your options, average costs for childcare faculties, government regulations and any potential government funding you may be entitled to.
Childcare is taken very seriously in South Africa. The government has organised numerous community initiative and impose strict regulations on childcare centres in South Africa to ensure that high standards of care are maintained throughout the country.
Regulations imposed by the Department of Social Development state that anybody employed as a childcare assistant, either in a childcare centre or by private hire, must be aged between 18 and 60 and have qualifications in first aid.
Furthermore, the government ensures childcare centres are equipped with appropriate facilities and are sufficiently staffed. Childminders must pass a medical and be able to speak in the mother tongue of children in their care.
Child support in South Africa: Preschool systems
In recent years, the South African government has invested wisely in preschool education systems. Subsequently working parents have a number of options to ensure your child is well looked after whilst you are at work.
Pre-schools in South Africa are designed to encourage early childhood development. Parents have the option to enrol children in a state-run institution or an independent crèche run by communities or individuals.
Pre-school programs are typically divided into pre-grade R for children aged between 0 and 4 years old, and Grade R for five and six-year-olds. The latter group are introduced to class learning with a focus on language, mathematics, life skills, technology, arts and culture.
Child support in South Africa: Childcare for babies
There are plenty of crèche and day care facilities that cater specifically for babies and toddlers up to the age of three. The staff is required to have qualifications as a childcare assistance, but they may not all have degrees in early childhood development.
Childcare centres for babies provide toys that are educational and fun, together with fulfilling your child’s needs including meals, drinks, snacks, nappy changes and cots for nap times.
Daycare centres and crèche usually open at 06.30 and take care of your child for up to 12 hours. Depending on the area you live in, the average childcare costs in South Africa range between R1500 and R4500 a month.
Child support in South Africa: Educare facilities
For parents with children aged two and three, Educare facilities present an alternative option for full-day childcare. As the name suggests, there is more focus on education than you can typically expect from a crèche.
Although the teaching syllabus may not be recognised by the department of education, playtimes in Educare centres provide fun activities that have educational value. Most programs will have selected themes and teachers are qualified in early childhood development.
Childcare for pre-school children
Children in South Africa are not obligated to attend school until they are seven years old. Prior to that, most children spend their days in a nursery that provide preliminary education.
Most nurseries accept children from two years an upwards. Some will also enrol children as young as 18 months. Children aged four and above will move into the pre-primary classes.
Many of the pre-primary schools are attached to a private school, so before choosing a nursey, check out which school it is attached to. This will make the transition from nursery to school easier for your child as they will already have already started the curriculum assigned by that school. Opening hours are usually 8.30 or 9am until 5-6pm.
The education syllabus in pre-schools is typically provided by the government although private schools also have their own curriculum. Fees for private schools tend to be higher, but the standard of education is higher as well.
Although there is more focus on education in pre-schools, children still have plenty of play time and supervised activities are usually organized.
Preschools in South Africa differ quite considerably and there is a wide variety of educational programs and requirements. For example, some nurseries and pre-schools require that children are potty-trained before they are accepted whereas other nurseries provide potty-training.
Nursery fees range between R2,295 and R9,950 a term depending on the area and quality of the educational program. You also have to pay a registration fee and a placement fee if you are accepted together with a security deposit. This can add an extra R8000 just to get your child a placement.
Click this link for more information about pre-schools in South Africa together with a list of schools in your area here.
After-school care child support in South Africa
Not all schools in South Africa provide full-day education. Some schools only half day or three-quarter day. Working parents, therefore, have to find an alternative solution for occasional after school care.
After school programs are available in most cities across South Africa and cater for children in both state and private education. In general, the childcare facilities will organize supervised activities, but the type of activities vary widely from one facility to the next. Some after-school programs are more orientated to hands-on-activities that encourage learning and participation whilst others offer sporting activities.
Finding a nanny or an au pair in South Africa
A popular childcare option for expats living in South Africa is to hire an au pair or nanny. Many families also hire home help such as cleaners or gardeners who also take on child-minding responsibilities.
Before anyone can legally work as an au pair in South Africa they must be aged between 18 and 24, have previous childcare experience and a high school diploma or equivalent.
Or legal requirements you should look into before hiring an au pair in South Africa is that applicants hold a valid driver’s licence and have a clean criminal record. They are only obligated to work 45 hours a week and permitted to two weeks holiday a year.
Although the principle responsibilities of au pairs are childcare, they can also help with light housekeeping duties such as washing the pots, laundry, changing bed linen, dusting and hoovering.
As an employer, you are obligated to provide au pairs with a private room, meals and a salary of between R1800 and R4000 a month depending on experience and references. As a general rule, the fewer hours an au pair works, the greater the hourly pay.
If you want your au pair to “babysit” your child whilst you enjoy an evening out, the additional work hours should be paid at an hourly rate in line with the usual hourly rate of pay. Travel expenses should also be remunerated at a pay of R3 to R4 a kilometre.
Low-income parents may be entitled to a government grants to help cover the cost of childcare. There are several grants available depending on your circumstances.
Grants for child support in South Africa
Child support grants are available for children under 18 years old. To qualify, you must be the child’s primary caregiver and earn an income of no more than R45,600 a year. The cap for married couples is a combined income of R91,200 a year. Expatriates that meet the criteria are entitled to a child support grant providing you have permanent residency in South Africa.
If you are not the natural parent of the child, you must provide evidence that you are the primary caregiver. A primary caregiver is classed as a grandparent, over 16 year’s old and the head of a family or foster/adoption parents.
Child support grants are paid by the South African Security Agency (SASSA) at a rate of R380 (2017 figures) a month per child. The easiest way to receive payment is an electronic deposit directly into your bank account. Alternative options are to receive the money in cash from your nearest SASSA office or the money will be paid to an institution acting as administrator of the grant.
To apply for a child support grant you have to register with your nearest SASSA office and provide the following information:
- 13 digit-bar-identity document
- Child’s birth certificate
- Sworn statement by a reputable person such as a minister, social worker, solicitor or councillor
- Proof of earnings
- Marriage certificate (if applicable)
If available, you should also supply the following:
- A certificate of baptism
- Health clinic card
- School report
- Proof of child maintenance from your estranged spouse
- Court order proofing you have custody of the child
- If your child only has a temporary ID, proof that you have applied for an ID and birth certificate from the Department of Home Affairs
Whilst at the SASSA, you will be asked to complete an affidavit and have it sworn in the presence of an independent Commissioner of Oaths who is not an official of the SASSA.
Applications for child support can take up to three months before they are granted, but payments will be backdated to the date of your initial registration.
Care Dependency Grant for child support in South Africa
If your child is disabled or in need of special care full-time, you may be entitled to a care dependency grant until the child turns 18.
To qualify, you must have a permanent residency visa, be the parent or primary caregiver appointed by the court and not earn more than R192,000 a year for singles or a combined income of R384,000 for married couples.
Before a care dependency grant is approved, your child must undergo a medical assessment with a state-appointed officer to determine whether the child qualifies for disability benefits. If your application is approved, you will receive R1600 a month.
To apply for a care dependency grant, visit you nearest SASSA and take the documents listed above as appropriate. In addition, you must have medical reports confirming your child’s disability.