This paper focuses on an important dimension of child poverty: children’s living environments in postapartheid South Africa, where the historic spatial configuration of families in relation to work opportunities continues to influence child care arrangements and often leaves children in places that are under-resourced. Internal migration studies show various patterns of movement for individuals and households, including permanent, temporary and circular migration. These patterns were shaped to a large extent by colonial and apartheid-era policies, in which labour reserves were established in designated rural homelands. Black male labour migrants were channelled into cities and areas of intense industry, while women, children and the elderly remained at the rural home. In recent years migration rates for women have risen, and there are also signs that permanent urban migration may be increasing. Both of these shifts have implications for children and child-care arrangements, in turn suggesting the need for greater consideration of children in infrastructure planning and urban development. There is an enormous discourse on (adult) migration and temporary labour patterns in South Africa, but very little about how this affects extended families and children. This is partly due to limitations in the construction of national household surveys which are cross-sectional and use a strict definition of household, excluding linked members who are not present. Being a panel survey, the National Income Dynamics Study will in the future enable longitudinal analysis of child mobility patterns and household composition at a national level, and so enhance our understanding of child poverty dynamics by contributing the additional elements of space and time. In the meanwhile, I offer some preliminary findings on children’s living environments, co-residence arrangements and mobility using retrospective data.