DA calls out Social Development for failing foster care system

Caregivers can’t apply for a financial life-line without a court order.

Democratic Alliance (DA) has called out the Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, for her department’s failure in fixing the backlog of foster care court orders.

DA: Around 128 000 court orders have lapsed

This stems from a presentation made by the department – to its’ Portfolio Committee about the current state of foster care. The department revealed that in November, a total of 128 000 court orders would have lapsed. In the same presentation, the social development committee demanded that its department presents a detailed turnaround plan, that shows how court orders will be cleared by 28 November 2019.

It is also recorded that in July 2019, a total of 6 800 court orders lapsed; these scary figures represent the number of children that aren’t checked up on by Social Development.

“This means that we don’t know whether those children are still safe or whether the situation has improved with regards to reuniting such children with their families. This is also indicative of the fact that the department has not visited the child nor monitored their situation in two years. The foster-care system is failing many of South Africa’s vulnerable children.”

Democratic Alliance Shadow Minister of Social Development, Bridget Masango

The Children’s Act demands court orders to be updated before financial assistance is granted

The law demands that an orphaned child needs to be placed under child protection services, and the court reviews the foster care order every two years.

The Children’s Act further stipulates that a foster care court order issued by the children’s court expires two years since its date of issue.

Caregivers can’t apply for Foster Care Grant

Through this, a child that is placed in the system is eligible for a Foster Care Grant; however, because of the backlog of court orders, caregivers can’t apply for a financial life-line. The epidemic of foster care court orders being late also concerns the safety of children, because social workers can’t do any work without a court order.

The Social Development Portfolio Committee has had this issue since 2010, and only interim interventions have been orchestrated throughout the years. The DA has pledged to write a letter to the minister, asking pertinent questions about the resolution of foster care court orders backlog in South Africa.

“The Portfolio Committee on Social Development asked the Department to approach the National Treasury, to request more funding to deal with challenges about the Foster Care System. Little answers were provided this past week, and the DA will therefore also be writing to the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, to ask whether the Department has indeed requested additional funding. This follows all Mec’s and Heads of Department representing provinces at the said meeting, confirming that they don’t have enough social workers nor sufficient tools of the trade to ensure these backlogs are cleared.”

  • Democratic Alliance Shadow Minister of Social Development, Bridget Masango


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