Shock of SA kids in limbo
TODAY’S Rep tells the story of two toddlers who were removed from a shack in Mlungisi in which they had allegedly been locked up for extended periods while their parents were out.
Both parents have since been arrested and charged with child negligence. If it had not been for the vigilance and care shown by a taxi driver, who alerted the police to the children’s plight, the situation may have continued, putting these young children’s lives at risk. Anything could have happened in those hours in which these children were alone, changing both their lives and that of their parents, irrevocably.
The children are currently in a place of safety and while the wheels of justice turn, it is unknown what the future holds for them.
The reality is that, if they go into foster care, even as a temporary measure, it remains a tricky situation. Recent indications were that up to 700 children were being accommodated in foster care in the Chris Hani district. It is a huge number and brings home the shocking truth of just how many children are truly in limbo in South Africa. While some foster care systems work and give children a better chance in life, others are less desirable and may not offer the ideal home to already traumatised children.
In September 2017, IOL reported “Foster care process a nightmare” that the Aids/HIV epidemic had resulted in the number of maternal orphans exploding to more than a million since 2004.
A lack of social workers was identified as a huge problem while the processes followed often discouraged potential foster parents.
Possibly, the parents of the two Mlungisi toddlers will be able to get parenting help and other aid so that their children can return home to a safe environment in which the necessary care will be provided, instead of going into foster care. It is not an option which is open to all children, however, and such a case as this should prompt increased efforts to improve our foster system – including more extensive support for foster parents and homes – in South Africa.