For Immediate Release: Monday, 14th June 2010
The Black Sash has launched a foster care awareness campaign in June which is Child Safety Month.
Ratula Beukman, Black Sash Advocacy Programme Manager says, “Many people are concerned with child safety and protection during this long World Cup school holiday, but we need to have good systems to look after our children when the soccer is over.”
Under the Children’s Act, a child can be placed in foster care when they are in need of care and protection, such as when their family or living environment is likely to cause them harm or when they have been orphaned. In the Black Sash, we are particularly concerned at the burden of responsibility placed on poor households who take on the care of such children.
Thandiwe Zulu, Black Sash Gauteng Provincial Director comments, “In our work, we have seen the devastating effects of the death of parents from HIV/AIDS. Often children are left in the care of their grandmother who is no longer working, and struggles to support them.”
Such family members who care for orphaned children are considered the legal care giver of that child until they are appointed as foster parents by a court of law. Only with this appointment, are they eligible for the Foster Child Grant of R710 a month, a far more substantial amount than the R240 available through the Child Support Grant given to parents and caregivers.
However, Black Sash Advocacy Programme Manager Ratula Beukman says “The harsh reality is that caregivers may never become foster parents or benefit from the Foster Child Grant, because our social work and justice systems are under-resourced and slow. The Black Sash calls on the Department of Social Development to make a more concerted effort to attract and retain social workers, and make more strategic use of auxiliary staff. We also call on the Department of Justice to prioritize their foster care cases.”
The most recent General Household Survey (2007) estimates that there are 1.3 million orphans in South Africa, a number which is likely to have increased over the past three years. However, according to the Department of Social Development only 510 703 families receive the Foster Care Grant in 2010, leaving close to a million families without this support.
At the moment caregivers who wish to apply for foster parent status, must be screened by social workers who will compile a report and file it with the Children’s Court. The Court then uses the report to make a decision to award a foster care order.
Zulu adds that “Despite the administrative difficulties, we desperately need more people in South Africa to consider providing a safe, alternative home for the tens of thousands of children at risk in our country. We encourage people able to offer a safe and loving home to apply to the Department of Social Development to become foster parents. They should refer to the Black Sash if their application is not dealt with in reasonable time”
For interview requests, please contact:
Black Sash Advocacy Programme Manager
Black Sash Provincial Director (Gauteng)
Cell: 082–456 2643
NOTE TO COMMUNITY RADIO PROGRAMME MANAGERS:
THE BLACK SASH CONTINUES TO BE GRATEFUL FOR YOUR COLLECTIVE AND STEADFAST COMMITMENT AND CONTRIBUTION TO MAKING OUR COMMUNITIES MORE AWARE OF THEIR HUMAN RIGHTS. WE WOULD BE MOST GRATEFUL IF YOU COULD ASSIST US AGAIN BY ACCOMMODATING THE ‘PRESENTER READ’ BELOW INTO YOUR PROGRAMMING SCHEDULE OVER THE NEXT FEW WEEKS – DURING JUNE WHICH IS CHILD PROTECTION MONTH.
PRESENTER READ – JUNE 2010 – FOSTER CARE
Did you know that family members who are caring for orphaned children can apply to become foster parents? The Black Sash is concerned for all those families in need who are caring for children whose parents have died. Only legal foster parents can benefit from the Foster Child Grant of R710 a month. To become a foster parent you need to be committed to offer the child a good and loving home. Apply to the Department of Social Development who will ask a social worker to assess you and make a recommendation to the Children’s Court who can appoint you as a foster parent.
The Black Sash – Making Human Rights Real
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