Howick: Foster task team set up

2012-09-20 00:00

A SOCIAL work task team has been set up to investigate complaints by a group of foster mothers from Howick who delivered a petition to the Department of Social Development in June.

In the complaints contained in the petition are allegations that Howick Social Development offices and its staff had not acted professionally or in the interests of foster children in a number of cases brought to their attention.

The foster mothers claim that the Howick Department of Social Development targets foster mothers who complain about them.

Those who complain are allegedly victimised and their foster children are subjected to threats of being summarily removed.

Many foster mothers have not received foster grants for months.

A few of the mothers believe that the social workers seem to have a racial agenda as they prefer to remove foster children from caring white foster parents and place them with distant relatives who have never seen the children.

Foster mother Sharon Aurets described this practice as “human trafficking in exchange for grants”.

But deputy director of the KwaZulu-Natal Social Development, Nomusa Mbanjwa, said they realised there was a problem and wanted to tackle it proactively.

Mbanjwa said: “We decided to appoint three experienced social workers and one senior social worker from outside the Howick office to act as a task team to look at the cases where there have been complaints and to see how the cases have been handled and if they have been dealt with in the best interests of the children.

“This is an intervention measure so we can identify any patterns where there has been incompetence or poor judgement.”

The social workers who come from Underberg, Mooi River, Richmond and Pietermaritzburg will be based in Howick for the next three months.

They will be asked to look at the present status of the foster children and also examine a child care plan for their future.

Nokuthula Khanyile, the KZN Department of Social Development general manager, said they were looking at re-shuffling staff and were thinking of introducing new management at the Howick office, but all this would depend on the findings of the task team.

Sharon Auret said: “There has been bad blood and it is difficult to trust anyone but we have to try for the children’s sake. I am all they have.”

Mbanjwa said the task team would be able to see if there were weaknesses in the system.

• trish.beaver@witness.co.za

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