The DA in the Western Cape welcomes the sterling progress made by the provincial Department of Social Development (WCDSD) in clearing the foster care backlog. In a written reply to DA parliamentary questions last week, Minister Sharna Fernandez confirmed that her Department has been able to reduce the foster care backlog to 1 455 children, down from 2 351 at the end of May 2022. Of these, 972 were submitted to Children’s Courts for extension in October 2022, thus placing the Department in an excellent position to substantially reduce the backlog of foster care cases in the province by the new year.
These results prove that the WCDSD’s Provincial Foster Care Management Plan is working. Developed with the goal of eradicating the backlog in mind, the plan brings together multiple stakeholders including Child Protection Organisations, Children’s Courts, the Western Cape Education Department and national agencies such as SASSA. The WCDSD’s specialised model promotes collaboration and co-operation between these groups, all with the end goal of efficiently and quickly providing much-needed foster care placements. This service-orientated mindset has allowed the WCDSD to outstrip other province’s in clearing the backlog, and to extend 4 593 vital foster care orders through the Children’s Courts since April 2022.
MPP Dan Plato, who posed the parliamentary questions to Minister Fernandez, says: “It is always encouraging to see the Western Cape Government’s policies achieve results. The provision of foster care is among the most vital services rendered to the citizens of our province by the WCDSD, and I welcome the progress that has been made, especially given the constant influx of new cases. However, the fact that the demand for foster care remains high is disturbing to me. As a society, we must do more to strengthen the family unit, and combat social ills such as drug abuse.”