South Africa: Can the Department of Social Development Solve the Foster Care Crisis?

opinion

With only two months to go until a court-imposed moratorium on foster care orders lapsing ends, the government's contingency plans are beginning to look a lot less like progress towards a goal and a lot more like last-minute panic, a panic that has resulted from its failure to publicly acknowledge the extent of the problem and seek help.

The two most critical questions related to foster care in South Africa are: how many children will be affected when the High Court moratorium on the lapsing of foster care orders ends in November 2019, and, is the Department of Social Development able to solve the long-term crisis that may ensue?

The department has answered the first question with figures ranging from 154,000 orders expiring by the end of December 2019 to as few as 8,280, and made concerted efforts to address what some call "the backlog". But, its failure to provide the comprehensive legal solution required by the High Court will mean that all 416,441 children in foster care will need their foster care orders manually renewed over the next two years.

While the department's efforts may be commendable, the crisis will be ongoing and mass redeployment of resources to deal...

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