Fos­ter home clos­ing

Talk of the Town - - Front Page - JON HOUZET

It came as a shock to many Port Al­fred res­i­dents to hear that the Child Wel­fare clus­ter fos­ter home in High Street would close down in De­cem­ber. TotT first learnt of the im­pend­ing clo­sure two weeks ago when a res­i­dent alerted us that the property in High Street was for sale. But TotT’s ini­tial e-mail query to Child Wel­fare man­ager and se­nior social worker Su­san Harty went unan­swered.

The mat­ter was brought into the pub­lic do­main by res­i­dent Tony King, who posted on TotT’s Face­book group, ex­press­ing his dis­may that the fos­ter home was go­ing to close.

“I am re­ally dis­tressed to hear the Child Wel­fare home in Port Al­fred is be­ing closed down. Since new man­age­ment took over, there had not been enough money. Strange isn’t it? This lack of care and com­pas­sion needs ur­gent at­ten­tion.”

His post drew many re­sponses from con­cerned res­i­dents.

“The Ne­mato Foun­da­tion up­graded and fur­nished that house when I was chair of the foun­da­tion, I’m so sad to hear that,” Yvonne MacKen­zie Botha said.

King called on res­i­dents to join to­gether to save the home.

It later emerged that the two fos­ter moth­ers

based at the clus­ter fos­ter home would now be housing the chil­dren at their own homes in Bathurst, where they used to spend the school hol­i­days.

“They will re­ceive the child grants, but in re­gard to trans­port to school, etc, for the chil­dren it’s over to them. So lit­er­ally they have a huge added bur­den on their own shoul­ders now.

“They are so lov­ing and car­ing of these kids but they are left car­ry­ing the can, so to speak,” King said.

Ellen Fober of the Ne­mato Foun­da­tion also com­mented on the post, as­sur­ing res­i­dents that the Ne­mato Foun­da­tion would fill in the gap.

“Trans­port to school and all the other things will be ar­ranged by Ne­mato Foun­da­tion. We al­ready made the start,” she said. “I put up a ‘sup­port a child’ project more than a year ago – we sup­port the kids fi­nan­cially and also the fos­ter moth­ers. And we bought and will buy all nec­es­sary equip­ment for the houses. So, re­ally, the kids and moth­ers will be fine.”

Af­ter not­ing the com­ments, the Child Wel­fare com­mit­tee re­leased a state­ment on Tues­day.

“Port Al­fred Child Wel­fare wishes to con­vey an an­nounce­ment by the man­age­ment com­mit­tee re­gard­ing the clus­ter fos­ter home. As with most NGOs in SA, Port Al­fred Child Wel­fare as an or­gan­i­sa­tion is chal­lenged with de­te­ri­o­rat­ing fi­nan­cial sup­port even though ev­ery ef­fort has been made to adapt to the in­evitable chang­ing eco­nomic cir­cum­stances,” chair Arthur Isaacs said.

“It is there­fore with re­gret, but also with a sense of ap­pre­ci­a­tion for all the hard work and achieve­ments, that the man­age­ment com­mit­tee an­nounces the clo­sure of the clus­ter fos­ter home. The chil­dren will re­main in the care of their fos­ter moth­ers. As Port Al­fred Child Wel­fare, we will con­tinue to up­hold our call to duty to these chil­dren and ad­vo­cate for their rights and pro­tec­tion,” Isaacs said.

“We would like to thank most sin­cerely all who part­nered with us in our jour­ney with the clus­ter fos­ter home and wish to as­sure our so­ci­ety that we will re­main com­mit­ted to serve above self.”

Although it was widely be­lieved that the home would close down at the end of Novem­ber, Isaacs said it would stay open un­til the end of De­cem­ber, although the chil­dren spend part of De­cem­ber with their fos­ter moth­ers in Bathurst.

The fos­ter home opened in July 2011, and since its in­cep­tion has pro­vided fos­ter care for 12 chil­dren. There are cur­rently 10 chil­dren at the home.

Isaacs con­firmed that the fos­ter moth­ers would now re­ceive and ad­min­is­ter their fos­ter grants di­rectly.

The Child Wel­fare com­mit­tee has not re­vealed what will be­come of the fos­ter home property.

For­mer Child Wel­fare em­ployee Lizo Mpam­bani ex­pressed dis­may on hear­ing the news of the fos­ter home clos­ing.

“I was shocked. I felt so bad,” said Mpam­bani, who worked as a com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment worker at Child Wel­fare from 2011 un­til July 2018.

Mpam­bani said she worked closely with the fos­ter home.

“It was my baby, and I felt it some­how fell apart af­ter I left in July.”

Mpam­bani said she left af­ter get­ting an­other job of­fer.

“I don’t believe clos­ing the home is for a fi­nan­cial rea­son,” she said.

“The kids are each get­ting a R910 fos­ter care grant. And they get a sub­sidy from the de­part­ment of social de­vel­op­ment. Years back, social de­vel­op­ment was not fund­ing the fos­ter home – now they do.”

Mpam­bani said the fos­ter home also re­ceived sig­nif­i­cant pri­vate fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance from the Nether­lands-based Ne­mato Foun­da­tion.

“Maybe Child Wel­fare want to close an­other part so they can keep the of­fice,” she said, ex­plain­ing that while she was em­ployed at the of­fice, it was con­stantly raised that fund­ing was a prob­lem and would last an­other six months.

Pic­tures: JON HOUZET

NO MORE CHIL­DREN: The Child Wel­fare clus­ter fos­ter home in High Street, which will be closed by the end of 2018

Pic­ture: JON HOUZET

LIST FROM THE PAST: A list of donors on a wall inside the Child Wel­fare clus­ter fos­ter home property, which thanked all who made the home pos­si­ble

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