Fostering a child
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.
What 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:
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 child foster care grant 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.
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.