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‘Plans are required to implement Children’s Amendment Bill’

The Bill aims to clarify who is eligible for foster care, but NGOs are concerned the proposed changes.

FILE: There are more than 500,000 children in the foster care system. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Parliament has asked the Social Development Department to prepare a plan, indicating how it intends implementing the Children's Amendment Bill.

The Bill aims to clarify who is eligible for foster care, but NGOs are concerned the proposed changes would be difficult to implement because of a shortage of social workers and budgetary constraints.

There are more than 500,000 children in the foster care system.

Social development's Conny Nxumalo says the department will respond to the issues raised by NGOs during public hearings last week.

"There are some valid comments that have been made to enrich the Bill itself; so we will present to the committee and the committee will decide as lawmakers to what exactly [happens], remember we cannot put thing we cannot impalement as the department. As much as we can feel in a particular way, we need to be practical to say 'what is in the best interest of the child.'"

Last week, the Children's Institute's Shanaaz Mathews said government would have to employ more than 11,000 additional social workers to meet its targets.

"It will probably take another 20 years to reach 1,4 million children that should be on the foster care system if we're targeting all maternally orphaned children."

The institute said the Amendment Bill introduced a financial means test to determine whether a child is in need of state care and protection.

It was worried this will lead to inconsistent interpretations.