Fostering a child | Western Cape Government

Fostering a child


AdoptionFoster care

Children are placed in foster care for different reasons, which include abuse, deliberate neglect and exploitation. Foster care is a form of alternative care for a child who, as a result of a court order, is in the care of a person who is not his or her parent or guardian.

Purpose of foster care

The purpose of foster care is to temporarily protect and nurture a child in need of care and protection by providing a safe and healthy environment with positive support until the child can be reunified with his or her family of origin.

Who can foster a child?

Only a person screened and found to be fit and proper can be approved as a foster parent by a designated social worker from the Department of Social Development or a designated child protection organisatIon and who undergoes training can foster a child.

How many children can be placed with a foster parent?

A foster parent can care for up to 6 (six) children unless a competent Children’s court orders otherwise.

Road safety for childrenWhat is expected from a foster parent?

The foster care court order assigns certain parental responsibilities and rights to the foster parent, to meet the day-to-day needs of a foster child. These include:

  • ensuring that the grant received is used for the upbringing of the child and In the child’s best interest;
  • ensuring that if the child is of school-going age, he or she attends school;
  • safeguarding the child’s health, well-being and development;
  • protecting the child from maltreatment, abuse, neglect, degradation, discrimination, exploitation and any other physical, emotional or mental harm or hazard;
  • guiding the child’s behaviour and not exposing the child to physical violence or degrading forms of discipline;
  • supporting the child through emotional, behavioural, medical or developmental challenges that may result from the trauma caused to the child by previous abuse, neglect or exploitation; and
  • working with the child’s case manager to:
    • participate in the implementation of the permanency plan;
    • value and help maintain the child’s connections with his or her family and significant others;
    • communicate any changes in the circumstances of the child with his or her case manager, teachers and other professionals;
    • secure the validity of the placement of the child in care; and
    • facilitate the reunification of the child with his or her family where indicated.

Foster parents can never be the parents or guardians of the child placed in their care.

Foster parents who can care for children with special needs continue to be a real need.

What financial support is available to foster parents?

A Foster child grant, which is R1 120 per child (from 1 April 2023), is paid per court order by the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) to the foster parent. This grant is payable until the child reaches the age of 18. An application can be made for the child to remain in care beyond the age of 18 years if the child needs to attend certain forms of accredited higher learning.

The biological parents of the child have a duty to contribute to the maintenance of the child and the children’s court can make a contribution order to this effect.

The designated social worker will assist the foster parent during the court procedure and ensure that the stay of the child is valid.

General enquiries:

Department of Social Development
Toll-free number: 0800 220 250

South African Social Security Agency
Toll-free help line: 0800 601 011 for information on:

  • Pay-out dates.
  • Qualifying rules for all government grants.
  • Regional office addresses and contact numbers.
  • For help with what has happened to your application.
  • How you can also report any fraud or corruption.

How to become a foster parent

  • Make contact with the nearest office of the Department of Social Development 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 taken into account 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.
The content on this page was last updated on 15 May 2023