ActionSA Lodges SAHRC Complaint Against National and Provincial Government Departments Over Treatment of Foster Children

ActionSA in the Western Cape has lodged complaints with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on behalf of a group of Khayelitsha foster mothers against the Western Cape Department of Social Development, the National Department of Social Development, the Western Cape Department of Education and the National Department of Home Affairs for the way in which these department’s actions and inactions compromise foster children in Khayelitsha, Cape Town.

The Khayelitsha foster mothers say that there are a number of ways in which government departments hamstring their ability to properly care for the children placed with them, including:

  1. The daily stipend that is supposed to be paid is often paid late or not at all, and the “starter pack” that a safety mother is provided with when the child is placed is hopelessly insufficient.
  2. Backlogs at Home Affairs result in it taking more than a year for a birth certificate to be provided.  Without a birth certificate, a child cannot be registered on the school system and a Foster Care Grant cannot be accessed.
  3. Social workers do not provide safely parents with information when a child is placed.  This means that safety mothers of children who have experienced sexual violence are not able to give that child the support and understanding they need.
  4. Once the child has been placed, the social workers do not follow up and safety parents are required to chase social workers for information and assistance.
  5. The system does not offer therapeutic help or counselling to traumatised child victims of sexual and other violence.
  6. “No-fee” schools pressure children and foster parents to pay for admission fees, “donations”, outings, events, paper and stationery.  In some “no-fee” schools, reports are withheld if payments are not made.

Foster children living in impoverished areas are the most vulnerable members of our society.  These failures by government are a violation of the most basic Constitutional rights that these children have to care and protection.

We must act as one against all forms of injustice and actively work to build a fair, just and inclusive society.  ActionSA is committed to increasing the efficiency of South Africa’s grant payments system and increasing access to social workers and mental health professionals in vulnerable communities.

ActionSA appreciates the work done by the SAHRC in the Western Cape and looks forward to action that will ensure that the foster children of Khayelitsha get the care and protection they deserve after repeatedly being let down.