UNICEF, SASSA and the Department of Social Development have published the findings of an impact assessment of the child support grant. The study provides strong evidence of the developmental value of the CSG which enjoys a high take-up rate amongst children aged seven to ten years, but a relatively low rate amongst infants and the newly-eligible youth.
The fact that it is poorly accessed in infancy is cause for concern and a matter which should be urgently addressed given the significant early childhood development value of the CSG for those who do receive it in the early years. The study found that early receipt of the grant (in the first two years of life) increases the likelihood of growth monitoring and improves height-for-age scores for children whose mothers have more than eight grades of schooling. Thus the CSG has a significant nutritional benefit and hence a significant benefit for the cognitive development of children.
The impact on older children’ cognitive ability and school attendance is positive. Children who received the CSG from birth completed significantly more grades of schooling than those who were enrolled only at the age of six, and they achieved higher maths scores. In addition, early receipt of the CSG equalises educational opportunities for children whose mothers have lower levels of education.
Early enrolment had significant health benefits. It reduced the likelihood of illness, especially for boys. Early receipt of the CSG reduces the likelihood of the child entering paid labour outside the home, a benefit which was noticeable amongst girls particularly. It further impacts positively on adolescent risky behaviours including sexual activity, pregnancy, alcohol use, drug use, and criminal activity.
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