New law ‘to hurt kids’

2019-06-24 15:24
SA has 13th highest rate of child homicide.

SA has 13th highest rate of child homicide. (File)

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Child adoptions could come to a complete stop if the Department of Social Development makes sweeping changes in the Children’s Amendment Bill, which will make it illegal for anyone to receive fees for assisting in adoption processes.

The National Adoption Coalition of South Africa has strongly criticised the proposed move, saying the department would “unequivocally scupper the already declining number of adoptable children”.

If the bill is passed, specialists including doctors, psychologists, lawyers and adoption social workers, will not be allowed to receive a cent for their services, which smooth the adoption process.

The department has introduced the amendment because they believe the costs associated with adoptions create a barrier for poorer people.

Civil society has, however, dismissed this, saying no data supporting the claims has been produced.

It is estimated that there are more than 3 000 orphans in the country, and about 300 children are abandoned per month.

Julie Todd, the director of Pietermaritzburg Child Welfare, said the Department of Social Development did not consult adequately with stakeholders when making its proposal.

“Adoption organisations can continue if the Bill is passed, but without being able to accept fees, they won’t survive.

“The department doesn’t seem to realise that these are highly specialised skills to make medical assessments,” she said.

Todd said the move would place the responsibility for adoptions on social workers employed by the department. “They are already overworked and adoptions are time-intensive. This will mean zero adoptions get done,” Todd added.

The chairperson of the National Adoption Coalition of South Africa, Katinka Pieterse, said the Bill would be “nothing short of catastrophic”.

“South Africa can ill-afford to lose any skills, expertise and human resources in this highly specialised and sensitive sector, yet this is exactly what the proposed amendments will achieve.”

Bridget Masango, DA shadow for Social Development, said the Bill, which will soon come before the national portfolio committee on social development, was “dangerous”.

“It looks like the department is closing the door on adoptions,” she added. “They trained 889 social workers to conduct adoptions, but because of the high case load, adoptions will likely not be a priority. Then all adoptions will stop ...”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  adoptions

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