Temporary reprieve for foster child grant beneficiaries

2017-11-28 17:20
PHOTO: Gallo images/ Getty images

PHOTO: Gallo images/ Getty images

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The high court in Pretoria has issued a court order aimed at alleviating the crisis in South Africa’s foster care system.

According to Zita Mulambo Hansungule, senior project coordinator for the Centre for Child Law, the SA foster care system is currently providing for 460 000 children but is designed to care for only 100 000. This discrepancy has come about as relatives caring for orphaned children have been accessing the foster child grant, which pays out R920 a month, instead of the child support grant, which pays out R380 a month.

“This has caused the system to be overburdened and social workers to be overworked and not able to adequately provide services to other vulnerable children,” she said.

The centre, which is based at the University of Pretoria, first noticed the problem in 2011 when over 100 000 foster care orders lapsed due to the system being overburdened. This placed the payment of grants at risk and the centre urgently approached the court at that time. With the national department of social development’s (DSD) support they got a court order that allowed for administrative extension of foster care orders. This arrangement was intended to last for only three years while a comprehensive legal solution was sought, but in 2014 the system was still unable to cope with the large number of children in foster care and DSD sought and was granted an extension for a further three years, during which amendments to the Children’s Act were to be made to resolve the crisis.

With the three year extended deadline looming at the end of 2017, the Centre for Child Law and the DSD have held several meetings in an attempt to develop a comprehensive legal solution to the foster care crisis.  “The order by agreement handed down in court today declares the current situation of the overburdened foster care system to be unconstitutional. The order also ensures that children whose foster care orders have lapsed or are due to lapse are reinstated or extended,” Zita Mulambo Hansungule said.

She added that the order requires DSD to put measures in place to ensure the necessary legislative amendments that will bring about a comprehensive legal solution to the foster care crisis be concluded within a period of 2 years. 

Read more on:    orphans

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