Foster care is an alternative care for children removed from the care of their nuclear or extended family as a results of various conditions that rendered children vulnerable and place them at high risk of maltreatment and not promoting their social, emotional and physical well-being.
Foster care is another form of family that is entrusted with the responsibility of promoting the rights, provide care and protection to the children. Foster care as another type of the family is changing the traditional definition of the family as a nucleus family consisting of the parents and children. The definition incorporates degrees of kinship, forms of emotional attachment, relations of dependence and reciprocity.
Children have the right to belong to a family to receive family care and protection. All children has a right to belong to a family and have permanency. Although the primary responsibility to care for children lies with the parents or caregivers of children, the state has the obligation to provide for the socio-economic rights of children thus assisting to ensure the realization of children’s rights.
Amongst others their rights include social services which includes the child care and protection systems that obligates the State to support the families in safeguarding the well- being of children and provide for the removal of children into State care where this is in the best interest of the child.
The State entrusts the care-giver with the responsibility to care and protect the rights of the children as prescribed by the Children’s Act as follows:
‘Care’, in relation to a child, includes, where appropriate-
(a) within available means, providing the child with-
- a suitable place to live;
- living conditions that are conducive to the child’s health, well-being and development; and
- the necessary financial support;
(b) safeguarding and promoting the well-being of the child;
(c) protecting the child from maltreatment, abuse, neglect, degradation, discrimination, exploitation and any other physical, emotional or moral harm or hazards;
(d) respecting, protecting, promoting and securing the fulfilment of, and guarding against any infringement of, the child’s rights set out in the Bill of Rights and the principles set out in Chapter 2 of this Act;
(e) guiding, directing and securing the child’s education and upbringing, including religious and cultural education and upbringing, in a manner appropriate to the child’s age, maturity and stage of development;
(f) guiding, advising and assisting the child in decisions to be taken by the child in a manner appropriate to the child’s age, maturity and stage of development;
(g) guiding the behaviour of the child in a humane manner;
(h) maintaining a sound relationship with the child;
(i) accommodating any special needs that the child may have; and
(j) generally, ensuring that the best interests of the child is the paramount concern in all matters affecting the child;
CHALLENGES EXPERIENCED WHEN CAREGIVERS ARE NOT UPHOLDING THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES IN CARING FOR THE CHILDREN
- Misuse of the foster grant at the expense of the children.
- Deliberate neglect of the foster parents to provide for the physical and educational needs of the children.
- Lack of financial planning with regard to tertiary educational of the children.
The family unit is of utmost importance to ensure a healthy upbringing for children in South Africa. Therefore parents who raise children in alternative care are provided with support structures and systems to ensure that children in alternative care live a quality life.
The social workers in the Saulsville demarcated area have identified a trend with the majority of foster parents in their caseload. Foster parents are misusing the foster child grant and they are not putting aside money for the foster children for their tertiary education, thus it is a need to host a training session every year that will empower the foster parents to make sound financial decisions for their foster children. Foster children who are in tertiary will also be involved so that they can also be aware of how their status changes from becoming a foster ‘child’ to ‘person’ and the process thereof.