World Foster Day presents opportunity to partner with DSD
In observance of World Foster Day which is recognised annually on 31 May, the Western Cape Minister for Social Development, Sharna Fernandez, is encouraging residents who meet the criteria to consider becoming either foster or safety parents.
“Many children have been orphaned or removed from their families, either due to being victims of various forms of abuse, and/or due to neglect.
They are in desperate need of care in a loving family environment,” said Minister Fernandez.
“Sadly, there’s a shortage of safe and secure homes that will unreservedly commit to making a difference in the lives of these vulnerable children.
As a Foster or Safety Parent you can offer these children the opportunity to reach their full potential. I am appealing to potential Safety and Foster Parents to contact the Department to register,” added Minister Fernandez.
The Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD) continues to make progress in addressing the backlog in foster care order extensions.
A court order is a direction issued by a judge or magistrate, requiring a person to do or not do something.
Presently, a total of 35 330 children are in Foster Care in the Western Cape.
The Foster Care Backlog as at the end of April 2021 is 3145. 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
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 issued by the National Department of Home Affairs. Secondly, there have been delays in the courts, as only urgent matters were prioritised during the COVID-19 lockdown period, and that court dates have been allocated for October and November 2020.
The DSD is now dependent on third parties such as the courts and the National Department of Home Affairs to conclude and address the existing backlog.
How to become a foster parent:
Make contact with the nearest office of the DSD or a designated child protection organisation. A social worker will firstly arrange for you to be screened. The screening involves an interview and a visit to your home.
Factors that will be considered in the screening process include the health of the foster parent, family composition, the suitability of accommodation, the general environment and accessibility of schools and public transport. Other aspects considered are the prospective foster parents’ views on child-rearing and education, their ability to accept responsibility, their attitude towards the birth parents and the motivation to foster.
The foster parent, and all adults on the premises, will go through a process of vetting and selection, where after compulsory training will be undertaken.
How to become a safety parent
Prospective safety parents must:
- have an interest in the wellbeing of a child at risk;
- have a police clearance and a Form 30 notification – this applies to all the adults residing on the premises of the applicant(s);
- have a Form 39 approval from the DSD to provide temporary safe care.
Due to the nature of the emergency placements, prospective safety parents should be available at any time and at short notice.
What happens after I have applied to become a safety parent?
Applicants are carefully screened to determine if they're suitable to care for children. Once approved, the safety parent will receive training on the Children’s Act, roles and responsibilities of safety parents and how to care for vulnerable children who may have experienced trauma.
Once the placement of a child is finalised, safety parents are given an emergency kit (e.g. in the case of a baby, nappies and formula milk) and a basic daily allowance towards the care of the child.
“Let us remember that all of our children are in need of protection 365 days of the year. To those who have heeded the call, we are beyond grateful for the safety and security you provide our beloved children,” concluded Minister Fernandez.
Contact information and support:
To sustain its pool of foster and safety parents in the Province to provide a safe and secure environment for vulnerable children, the Department invites interested persons to contact their nearest DSD local office or contact the DSD hotline on 0800 220 250.
Furthermore, if you suspect a child is being abused, neglected, or exposed to violence, we urge you to report it to the following channels:
Calling the Western Cape Department of Social Development toll-free: 0800 220 250
Calling the SAPS crime stop hotline: 10111
Calling Childline: 0861 322 322; or
Calling Child Welfare SA: 0861 424 453
For more information about our other services, please refer to the Western Cape Department’s website on the link below:
Joshua Covenant Chigome
Spokesperson for the Minister of Social Development, Minister Sharna Fernandez
Tel: 021 483 9217
Cell: 083 661 4949