Foster moms in Khayelitsha area unhappy with their treatment by social development
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* This article first appeared in the Cape Argus newspaper on October 8, 2021.
Cape Town - Over 150 foster-care mothers in the Khayelitsha area are accusing the provincial Department of Social Development (DSD) of neglecting its responsibilities over the proper placement of foster children in their homes.
The foster mothers who reached out to local NGO, The Great People of SA (TGPSA) in June after their complaints to the department were allegedly ignored, said the department had been abusing them and these kids for years.
They also alleged that some of the foster children had been moved from one foster home to another without due process followed, which they said had resulted in some of them not being able to access chronic medications as they could not be traced by doctors.
Another child was allegedly raped in one of the foster homes after she was removed from another home. The mothers slammed the department for neglect and uncaring attitude displayed by social workers.
Chairperson of the group that had organised themselves as Wathinta Imbokodo, Nosipho Kibidu said they had been tolerating the department’s social workers’ ill treatment for years, while they were expected to raise the vulnerable children.
“The department’s process is compromised from when a child is placed in our homes for temporary safe care. The department would place kids under your care for three months with only a R200 voucher and for more than six months you are forced to utilise your finances to raise the child which at times is placed within days after birth.
“We are expected to get paid R27 a day which you might receive after more than six month and chances are you do not and once you enquire about this you are deemed clever and they take the child to another household under the pretence that the family has been found, and blacklist you. The same might be done to the following parent,” she said.
Another mother, Nomthunzi Jack said while the department alleged that social grants were cancelled when a child was under temporary safe care, they were aware of biological parent(s) receiving the grant for their benefit while the children were suffering while under their care.
Jack said some of the foster parents had been with kids for years with no birth certificates and were not receiving foster grants while the social workers were dragging their feet, giving multiple excuses.
“We are not doing this for the money but for the love of children so we demand the department to treat us in a respectful manner,” she said.
TGPSA chairperson Zintle Khobeni condemned what she said was the careless inaction of the department.
“What they are doing is a gross human rights violation and we demand that the national government step in as DSD is a national competency. Their basic human rights are being infringed upon and this is unacceptable and cannot be another matter that is swept under the carpet by our government.
“The Human Rights Commission must also come to the party and act on their constitutional obligations to protect every citizen’s human rights,” she said.
While DSD spokesperson Esther Lewis could not respond to the allegations made by the foster mothers, she said specific incidents of the department’s officials or designated child protection organisations not fulfilling their obligations should be reported.
She said if there were reports of foster parents not fulfilling their duties, or if they were maltreated, the department can step in and remove them from the current foster parents list.
Lewis said there were over 35 912 children in foster-care in the province.