- The Child Support Grant is only for parents or guardians of children under 18 years of age
- From 1 April 2017 the Child Support Grant is R380 per month.
- No fee is required to apply for the Grant
- South African citizens, permanent residents and refugees are eligible
- Sixteen to eighteen-year-old children responsible for supporting households may apply with an adult sponsor
The South African constitution gives children special protection. It puts the responsibility on the government to provide social assistance to children whose parents or primary caregivers are unable to support them financially. One of the ways they do this is through the provision of a Child Support Grant.
What is a Child Support Grant – and who is it meant to support?
The Child Support Grant is monthly income support to adults in need, who care for children who are under the age of 18. Parents and primary caregivers qualify for the Child Support Grant if their child is born on or after 31 December 1994.
How much is the Child Support Grant?
The amount changes every year. From 1 April 2017 the Child Support Grant is R380 per month.
Who can apply for the Child Support Grant?
Parents or primary caregivers can apply for this monthly payment on behalf of the children in their care.
(A primary caregiver is anyone, other than the biological or foster parents, who is over the age of 16 and is mainly responsible for looking after the child. They can be a family member, including a brother or sister. Where they apply for a grant for a child, they must declare under oath that they are the primary caregiver, and provide some documentary proof of this. They may not receive this grant for more than six children, unless the children are legally adopted.)
Children who are heading households, and who are between the age of 16 and 18, can apply for the Child Support Grant with the help of a supervising adult, like a social worker.
Who is eligible for this grant?
All children are eligible depending on the income and national status of their parent or primary caregiver.
To qualify for the grant, a single parent or caregiver must earn R3 700 or less per month. A married couple must jointly earn R7 600 or less per month.
To be eligible for this grant, the parent or primary caregiver must be a South African citizen or a permanent resident or a refugee. They and the child must be living in South Africa. Foreign nationals with visas, asylum seekers and undocumented refugees may not access the Child Support Grant
How do they apply for a Child Support Grant?
Parents or primary caregivers can apply for a grant at their nearest SASSA (South African Social Security Agency) office. They do not pay anything to apply.
They must take a range of documents with them as applications will not be processed without these. They will need identity documents for themselves and the child and proof of their marital status, as well as proof of their income. (A full list of the documents is available on page 61 of the Black Sash’s Social Assistance: A reference guide for paralegals.) At the SASSA office they will be assisted to complete the forms, will be interviewed and will have their fingerprints taken.
If they cannot go to the offices themselves, a friend or family member can take letters from them (and their doctor) saying why they cannot do so. A SASSA official will then arrange to visit them at home.
Can they apply for a grant without an ID book or birth certificate?
If the applicant does not have identity documentation – or is missing some of the other necessary documents - they may still apply.
At the SASSA office they will be asked to complete and sign a form (a ‘sworn affidavit’) confirming who they, or the children, are. They will also be asked to bring an affidavit from a reputable person (like a councillor, traditional leader, social worker, priest or school principal) who can verify that they know the applicant. SASSA may also ask for other documents, like a clinic card or a school report etc.
How is the Child Support Grant paid to them?
When they make the application, they must say how they would like the money to be paid. They can either collect it on a specific day each month, or have it paid into a bank account. (This can be changed at any time by filling in a form at the SASSA office.)
How long does it take to start getting the Child Support Grant?
In some SASSA offices, applicants are told immediately whether or not they qualify for a grant. Legally SASSA has three months from the date of application to start paying a grant once it has been approved. The payments will be backdated to the date they applied for the grant.
If they are worried, an applicant can phone the free SASSA helpline: 0800 601 011 to find out what has happened to their application and when they can expect payment. This is also the number to call if you want to report social grant fraud.
Other financial support
Parents and primary caregivers do not have to pay school fees for children who are benefitting from a Child Support Grant – as they have passed the means test that shows they are poor.
And if their household is in need, they can also apply for ‘indigency status’ at their Municipal Offices – which may help them with the cost of their water, electricity and property rates.
Once a grant has been approved, people who have not yet received any money but are in desperate need of support can apply for temporary assistance in the form of Social Relief of Distress (SRD). SRD is normally issued as a food parcel but can also be a voucher or cash payment.
(Where money has been paid, this will be deducted from the grant money they eventually receive.)
Do they need to renew the Child Support Grant?
No. To check if the parent or primary caregiver is still eligible for the grant SASSA sends beneficiaries an annual registered letter asking them to provide up-to-date information about their current financial circumstances.
However, if a beneficiary’s financial circumstances improve before SASSA sends them this letter, they must let SASSA know. They must also inform SASSA of any other changes in their or the child's circumstances. Receiving a grant when a person is not eligible for one is fraud.
When do the Child Support Grant payments stop?
Even if a parent or caregiver is still financially eligible, payments will stop when the child turns 18, or if the child is admitted to a state-funded institution for over six months, or if the child dies.