DSD continues making progress in addressing Foster Care extensions backlog
The Western Cape Department of Social Development continues to make progress in addressing the backlog in foster care order extensions.
Presently, a total of 35 835 children are in Foster Care in the Western Cape.
Between the period of December 2019 and 31 September 2020, 4 297 Foster Care orders have been processed and completed. The number only refers to the number of foster care orders that required extension, as per court order.
The North Gauteng High Court (NGHC) issued an Order on 26 November 2019 extending the 28 November 2017 Order. The extended court order provides an additional 12 months for the key provisions contained in the 2017 Order. The key provisions highlighted in the court order include the following:
- The suspension of two declarations regarding the provision for a comprehensive legal solution and putting in place the mechanisms, resources and structures for a sustainable and efficient foster care system.
- Requiring the Minister to request Parliament to expedite the process for consideration and tabling of amendments to the Children’s Act.
- Interim regime for management of the affected foster care orders.
- Reporting parameters changing from six monthly to three monthly intervals for reporting to the High Court and Centre for Child Law.
In light of the High Court order issued on the 26 November 2019, the Western Cape Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez noted the following, “ I am pleased with the progress we are making in addressing the backlog in extensions of foster care orders. At present, we have 1900 unprocessed extensions. It is important to note that the current number of unprocessed extensions are not new placements”
Minister Fernandez added, “There are two key factors behind the current number of unprocessed extensions in the Province. Firstly, there are delays in the receipt of unabridged birth certificates from the National Department of Home Affairs. Secondly, there have been delays in the courts, as only urgent matters were prioritized during the COVID-19 lockdown, and that court dates have been allocated for October and November 2020.
Thus, we are now dependent on 3rd parties such as the Courts and the National Department of Home Affairs for us to conclude and address the existing backlog.”
Minister Fernandez continued, “ All provincial Departments of Social Development are extending the foster care orders through the Children’s Courts so that they have lapse dates that go beyond 26 November 2020, to avoid orders lapsing simultaneously on the 26 November 2020.”
The challenges presented during lockdown period had a restrictive effect on overall operations in the public and private sector. Although the Courts could still be accessed for urgent matters pertaining to children and specifically foster care matters, there were operational restrictions caused by limited access to courts and other lockdown restrictions.
Minister Fernandez said, “Foster Care provides a safe and secure placement for a child who has been orphaned or who needs to be removed from an unsafe home environment into the care of a suitable family or person willing to be foster parents.”
“I wish to thank all our Foster Parents. The guidance and support that you provide for our vulnerable children are greatly appreciated.
Let’s remember all of our children in need of protection 365 days of the year during the COVID-19 pandemic and as we plan for the recovery period. To those who have heeded the call, we are beyond grateful for the safety and security you provide our beloved children,” concluded Minister Fernandez.
For more information:
Any persons interested in finding out more information about becoming a safety parent or foster parent can make contact with our department by calling, 0800 220 220, to be directed to your nearest local DSD office, or by emailing SD.CustomerCare@westerncape.gov.za.