NEWS & ANALYSIS

Deadline on foster care backlogs won’t be met – Bridget Masango

DA MP says DSD filed papers with court to request for extension

Social Development confirms that it will not meet deadline on foster care backlogs

21 November 2019

On Wednesday, the Department of Social Development (DSD) confirmed that it will not meet a November 2017 North Gauteng High Court deadline to allow payments of outstanding foster care orders to continue for 24 months until 28 November 2019. The DSD confirmed this in Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Social Development.

Section 159 (1)(a) of the Children’s Act demands that a foster care order issued by the children’s court lapses on expiry two (2) years from the date it was issued.

The Department also confirmed that it filed papers with the Court on Tuesday to request for the extension of this deadline and also wrote to Treasury informing it of the payment of foster care grants after the deadline to avoid payments being illegal.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is disappointed by this announcement as the safety of thousands of children hangs in the balance. Minister Lindiwe Zulu waxed lyrical in Parliament about her department’s capability to meet this deadline. So far the Department has failed to expedite the placement of the most vulnerable members of society who are in desperate need of a safe place to stay.

As it stands, there will be over 128 00 orders that will have lapsed. This will leave more than 128 000 foster kids stranded and we have no clue whether those children are still safe or whether the situation has improved with regards to reuniting such children with their families

The primary concern of the foster care system is to offer support to children in need of protection from abuse and neglect and enables people caring for children in foster care to apply for the Foster Care Grant (FCG).  Without these orders, social workers are unable to guarantee the safety of these children and thousands of children and their caregivers are left without the financial lifeline they often desperately need.

Clearly the plight of vulnerable children is not at the top of Government’s agenda as we have been sitting with the issue of foster care backlogs since 2010, with absolutely no plans in place to solve or improve the situation.

The DA will continue to keep a close eye on the developments in this regard and we will not waiver to put pressure on the Minister of Social Development to ensure that this backlog is addressed as a matter of urgency.

Issued by Bridget Masango, DA Shadow Minister of Social Development, 21 November 2019