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South Gauteng Court orders that grannies cannot get Foster Child Grant

On 29 August 2012, the South Gauteng High Court handed down a judgement that has effectively brought to an end the financial support which has been available, as per the directions given by the Department of Social Development under the former leadership of Dr Zola Skweyiya, to the many grannies caring for their orphaned grandchildren – namely the Foster Child Grant (FCG).

The case revolved around an application for a foster care order brought by the aunt and uncle of an orphaned boy who was in their care. There has been a history of inconsistent rulings in the application of the relevant section (150(1)(a)) of the Children’s Act. The Act provides that only a child that is in need of care and protection may be placed in foster care and receive the FCG. Section 150(1)(a) provides that only an orphaned child who has no visible means of support can be regarded as being in need of care and protection and hence eligible for foster placement and the FCG. The judge ruled that where the child in question has someone who owes him or her a legal duty of support, such as grandparents, then the child does have visible means of support and no foster order may be made. In the case in question, a foster order was granted because aunts and uncles do not have a duty of care.

Whilst the case brings some much-need certainty and consistency to the future application of the Act, it also means that the many grannies who have traditionally been accessing the FCG as a much-needed source of financial support for their orphaned grandchildren will in all likelihood lose the grant when their foster orders are next reviewed. The Centre for Child Law, the Children’s Institute and the Black Sash have all expressed concerns about the hardship that this ruling will create for the grannies caring for approximately 350 000 orphans living with their grannies. The only remaining option available to them is the CSG in the sum of R 280 per month, compared to the FCG of R 770 per month.

All of these organisations have urged the Department of Social Development to amend the Social Assistance Act to make some form of kinship care grant available through an administrative system, so as to prevent any further congestion in the foster care courts and to ensure that grannies are adequately supported in providing care and support for their orphaned grandchildren.

WEB LINKS FOR THIS ARTICLE

Click here to view the Foster Child Grant court order.

WEB LINKS FOR THIS ARTICLE

Click here to view the joint press release by the Centre for Child Law and Children’s Institute.