Background: In April 1998, the South African government introduced the child-support grant as a poverty-alleviation measure to support the income of poor households and enable them to care for the child. Aims: This research aimed to measure equity of access to applications for the child-support grant in an area characterized by poverty. Three questions were addressed: (i) How does socioeconomic status affect the probability of a household applying for a child-care grant? (ii) What household and caregiver characteristics are associated with child-care-grant application? (iii) What barriers to access are experienced by households that do not apply for the child-care grant? Methods: The study population of 6,725 households with at least one age-eligible child was drawn from the Agincourt field site, a rural sub-district of South Africa. Data used were obtained from health and demographic surveillance, a child-grant questionnaire, and a household-asset survey. Descriptive cross-tabulations and multivariate logistic regression were used in the analysis. Results: Although these grants are intended as a pro-poor intervention, the poorest households are less likely to apply for grants than those in higher socioeconomic bands. Households in lower socioeconomic bands experienced barriers in accessing grants; these related to lack of official documentation, education level of the caregiver and household head, and distance from government service offices. Conclusions: Enhancing access will require improved provision of birth certificates and identity documents, efficient coordination and service provision from a range of rural government offices, and creative methods of communication.