Zulu says Gauteng, Western Cape, KZN lead in unprocessed foster grants
Cape Town - Gauteng, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal are leading the pack in the number of provinces that still have thousands of unprocessed applications for foster care grants.
This emerged when Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said seven provinces have up to 10 000 unprocessed applications.
Zulu said this in her response to parliamentary questions by EFF MP Laetitia Arries, who asked about the total number of foster care applications still not processed.
In her reply, Zulu said the national department did not process foster care applications but provinces did.
She said the Eastern Cape so far had 665 unprocessed applications while Gauteng has 4 025, Limpopo 1 068, KwaZulu-Natal 1 637, the Northern Cape 184 and the Western Cape 1 900.
According to Zulu, the reasons for non-finalisation of foster care applications ranged from challenges in tracing birth parents to outstanding birth certificates from the Department of Home Affairs and outstanding school reports.
She also said the department was waiting for court dates in order to finalise court matters, and that there was a high turnover of social workers in designated child protection organisations, and verification of information with the South African Social Security Agency still needed to be conducted.
Zulu added that it was expected that the challenges presented by the lockdown would have had a restrictive effect on operations.
"Although the courts could still be accessed for urgent matters pertaining to children, and specifically foster care matters, there were operational limitations caused by limited access to courts and other lockdown restrictions."
She said various role-players, including the state attorneys’ offices, legal advisers and counsel, had to meet lockdown requirements.
"The co-dependent functionalities have been highlighted with the authorities concerned and redress is awaited.“
Zulu said the provinces had various dates for completion of finalising the applications.
The Eastern Cape was scheduled to process the applications by the end of last month and KwaZulu-Natal by January 30. The Northern Cape was to finalise all placements by January 30.
Zulu said the finalisation of the foster care process in Gauteng was dependent on other departments and prospective foster parents.
"As a result, it is not possible to indicate by when the cases will be finalised. In terms of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005, the turnaround time for foster care applications is six months."
The minister also said it was difficult to anticipate the date for finalisation of cases in Limpopo, since the department depended on other departments to finalise these.
"But efforts are made to fast-track the finalisation of cases in the best interest of the child," she said.
Zulu added that the department in Mpumalanga had a turnaround time of six months to investigate and finalise foster care applications as per the department’s service standards.
"However, in cases where there are challenges such as documentation, advertisements for unknown fathers and others, the finalisation of the cases may take longer."
She said the Western Cape was in the process of consulting with regions and the relevant stakeholders in foster care management regarding the finalisation of unprocessed foster care applications and that a date for finalisation would be determined.