Black Sash Media Statements

'Sash calls for urgent review of flawed foster care system' - BLACK SASH, Monday 23 May 2011

BLACK SASH MEDIA STATEMENT – CHILD PROTECTION WEEK

For Immediate Release: Monday, 23 May 2011

The Black Sash is calling for an urgent review of the “flawed and overburdened” foster care system. Speaking at the start of National Child Protection Week (23-29 May), the human rights organisation says onerous administrative and legal procedures, coupled with a severe shortage of social workers and magistrates, have created massive backlogs, compromising the care and protection of hundreds of thousands of needy and vulnerable children.

According to the latest Child Gauge, only half of the nearly one million children in South Africa who have lost both parents currently receive a Foster Child Grant. Black Sash Advocacy Programme Manager Ratula Beukman says all orphans ought to be considered wards of the state, and as such, should be entitled to social assistance. “The foster care system inherited from Apartheid days is ill-equipped to cope with the scale of the need. It is geared towards removing children from abusive domestic situations and as such, rightfully requires extensive checks and balances, including psychological intervention and monitoring. But it is simply too cumbersome and inadequately resourced to swiftly and efficiently process the growing number of children who are orphaned or left without parental care as a result of our high levels of poverty, HIV/Aids and other related illnesses,” explains Beukman.

The R740 a month Foster Child Grant is the only social assistance grant that is not “means tested” and is awarded when a magistrate hands down the foster care order. However, the Black Sash has recently come across numerous cases in which magistrates are denying the Foster Child Grant to parents that they believe have “sufficient means” to care for the child. Beukman says in one particular case, the magistrate denied the grant to a foster child as he claimed other children in the household were receiving Child Support Grants. “It is dangerous and unacceptable for magistrates to use their discretionary powers to decide whether or not foster children deserve financial support. It is a direct violation of the Social Assistant Act as well as the child’s right to social protection. As a society, we should be honouring those adults who are prepared to take care of children who are not their own. They are true heroes and shouldn’t have to grovel for this small amount of State support,” insists Beukman.

The Black Sash urges anyone who is having difficulty applying for a Foster Child Grant to please contact their NATIONAL HELPLINE on 072-66 33 739 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for FREE paralegal support and advise. As part of our contribution to Child Protection Week, we have also developed a series of information sheets on the rights of children. These are available on our website – http://www.blacksash.org.za/

Read our information sheet on Foster Care

 

Read our information sheet on Foster Child Grant


Read our information sheet on the Constitutional Rights of Children

 

Read our information sheet on School FeesRead our information sheet on the Child Support GrantRead our information sheet on AdoptionRead our information sheet on Maintenance

Read our information sheet on Children and the Criminal Justice System

Read our information sheet on the Legal Rights of Teenagers

Read our information sheet on Turning 18 – the age of majority

FOR INTERVIEW REQUESTS, PLEASE CONTACT:RATULA BEUKMAN

BLACK SASH ADVOCACY PROGRAMME MANAGER

CELL: 072-1743507

EMAIL: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

OR

THANDIWE ZULUBLACK SASH GAUTENG PROVINCIAL DIRECTORCELL: 082 456 2643EMAIL: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.OR JONATHAN WALTON

 

BLACK SASH PROVINCIAL ADVOCACY MANAGER


CELL: 083-658 7097

 

EMAIL: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.