World Foster Day: Over 40,000 children in foster care in the Western Cape

May 31 is World Foster Day. File Picture

May 31 is World Foster Day. File Picture

Published May 31, 2024


World Foster Day is observed globally on May 31, to raise awareness and educate people on the foster process and support foster families around the world.

The month of May is Child Protection Month.

Western Cape MEC of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez said the number of reported cases of child neglect and abuse in the province has continued to increase, driven by population growth, fragmentation of families, and harsh socio-economic conditions facing households.

She said this has resulted in more children in need of protection and placement in alternative care.

“Over 40,000 children are in foster care in the province, placed either with safety parents or foster parents,” Fernandez said.

“The Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD) monitors these cases through the innovative Foster Care Web-based Monitoring Tool.”

Recently, Fernandez met with foster parents in Cape Town.

Of the foster parents she spoke to were Ayesha and Faadiel Ismail who became foster parents to his brother’s four children.

The children’s biological parents were battling with substance abuse.

Last year, the children’s baby brother joined the family. He turned one-year-old this month.

“Initially, we were only going to foster two of the children but when we saw them playing, we knew we had to keep them together. It was the best decision we could have made,” Ayesha said.

“When they first came to us, they couldn’t read or write as they were not in school. We got them into a school and now they are doing so well. We are very proud of them.”

She said the children had a rough start in life.

“These children have had a rough start in life. One of the boys was shot in gang crossfire when he was a baby, the older girl was burnt with hot water, and another boy was on treatment for tuberculosis when they first came to us. We want the best for them,” Ayesha said.

“We are not rich, but we have been able to make sure the children have what they need. We have been blessed to receive support from the community, their school, and the DSD social worker, Moeneeb Martin, who has walked this journey with us.”

Fernandez praised the couple who took in the children in their time of need to give them a safe and loving environment despite having three of their own children.

“If you have a heart for helping a vulnerable child in need of a safe and caring home, please consider becoming a safety or foster parent. You have the power to change a life for the better,” Fernandez said.

“As Child Protection Month comes to an end, I also wish to remind people that every child has the right to be protected from abuse and neglect. Do your part in ensuring these rights are upheld, and report instances where you see abuse taking place.”

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