Information Page

The Urgent need for Foster Parents

In South Africa thousands of children are in desperate need of loCopy Right Protectving care in a stable family environment. These children have been removed from their family due to sexual, physical, or psychological abuse, as well as neglect. They are in urgent need of becoming a part of a family where they can be loved and nurtured. Sadly, there’s a critical shortage of loving, secure homes that will unconditionally commit to making a difference in the lives of these hurting children.  As a Foster Parent you can offer these children a brighter future and the opportunity to achieve their full potential in life.


Foster care is not the same as legally adopting a child. “Foster care is the placement of a child, who needs to be removed from the parental home, into the custody of a suitable family or person willing to be foster parents. This is done by order of the Children’s Court.” Children can be removed from the custody of their biological parents if they are abused, neglected or abandoned. In South Africa, poverty contributes to abuse, neglect and abandonment, but these issues are not limited to poor communities.

The Benefits of becoming a Foster Parent

As a foster parent, you will experience many challenges and some difficult days – but most parents find that the joy of seeing their foster children push through their own pain and anger far outweighs it. As your foster child moves through their own difficult emotions, he will look to you for love and support, and become more and more a part of your family. Many foster parents are still “home base” to the children they fostered, and welcome them back home for holidays and summer vacations even after they’ve reached adulthood.


Prospective foster parents are screened by welfare organizations to ensure they are suitable to take on the responsibility of caring for a child. The factors taken into account when screening applicants include:  The age of the prospective foster parents; The health of the prospective foster parents; The family composition and income; etc. Although foster placement is temporary in nature, the screening process is taken seriously and always in the best interests of the child. Prospective foster parents will also be interviewed about their views on raising children and education, their attitude towards the biological parents, and their motivation to foster a child who is not their own. Religious and cultural factors are also taken into consideration, factors which may have considerable implications in a country made up of diverse ethnic groups.

Responsibilities of Foster Parents

South Africa has a current shortage of social workers. Nevertheless, social workers are responsible for the supervision of foster parents, which usually takes the form of annual house visits, unless there are problems related to the placement. The obligations of foster parents include: Giving proper maintenance and care to the child; and Granting reasonable access to the child’s biological parents. In South Africa, foster parents are permitted to discipline a child in their custody. They are not permitted to deal with any property belonging to the child (that the child has brought into the household or received as a gift from the biological parents), consent to the marriage of the child or to a medical procedure that may endanger the child’s life. And a foster child is not allowed to be taken out of South Africa without prior authorization.

Applying to be a Foster Parent

Prospective foster parents should contact the Department of Social Development or Christian Social Council offices in their area (see list below for contact information).  After contact has been made a screening process with a social worker and a house visitation will follow.  Foster parents will then be summoned to appear before the Children’s Court, where the social worker will recommend that a child be placed with the suitable foster parents who have already undergone the screening and training process.

Link to Christian Social Council Offices.

Link to CMR East London.

638 Responses to Information Page

  1. erikawalker1gmailcom says:

    Does a foster child need to stay with the court ordered foster house until the order lapses? Child is 15 and wants to go live with the aunt but was told child MUST stay where they are until order March when 2 years are over. Very unhappy and depressed in current house.

    • Good day.
      A child of 15y has their own voice. However, it is NEVER up to the foster house/parents to change the placement of the child – whom are lawfully bound to adhere to the Court Order that is already in place.
      Unfortunately ones the State is involved in the care of a child, there is only route to follow: An appointment will need to be made with the Case Worker who is assigned to the child’s case, and the child will have to tell the Case Worker in person, as to their desire to and reasons, to be moved and placed with their Aunt.
      Thereafter, the case may be brought to the Children’s Court where the Child will have to tell the Magistrate, whom will determine if it is in the child’s best interest to be moved to their Aunt.
      Hope this was helpful.

  2. magariethag says:

    Hi can you please tell me if a Fosyer parent is aloud to change the name of the child?

  3. deabreubelindagmailcom says:

    Good day
    I am a Mother in urgent need to find good Christian forster care parents for my 15 year old daughter. Please can anyone help me. I dont want my daughter to end up in a welfare home. Ive been praying so long. Everything is in order at our local welfare offices
    My email

  4. sunecalitz says:

    Good day, we currently live in Johannesburg. We would like to become forster parents. How do we start?

  5. liezleden says:

    Good Day. I’m not able to foster a child at the moment but would like to in the future… for now I just want to know if you could refer me to children homes where I can assist?
    Thank You

  6. Ruan Thomas says:

    We recently relocated from Pretoria to Jeffreys Bay.
    How can we apply to be a house of safety.
    In Pretoria children were placed with us through our church, but we never registered as a place of safety for children.

    Please assist me.

    Thank you

  7. Monique Marchant Frenkel says:

    Good morning. We are currently foster parents (have been for 4 years) and also place of safety family. We would love to foster again, but seems nobody wants to help… We would like to foster a Caucasian child, but as soon as you mention that, the doors don’t just get closed, but slammed closed!!! We fall under DSD, to it seems to be an absolute nightmare and feels we will never be able to foster again!

    • Good day Monique. It seems that my previous reply from my phone has not gone through onto the site! I do apologise for only realizing it today. I know the system is very frustrating! May you soon be able to foster again. Please do not give up. Have an awesome week.

  8. Wendy Smith says:

    Hi, where can I download the application to foster a child?

    • Unfortunately each agency has their own application forms that they do not make available online. Please contact the offices closest to you directly.

      • cmrpewebafricaorgza says:

        Good day Helouise – CMR Port Elizabeth would like to make kontact with you.
        could you please send an email to Magda von Solms – Director –
        your telephone number is – 041 – 484 3554
        Alternatively you could send a WA message to 081 549 2455

  9. Candice Naicker says:

    Good day
    Please can someone advise me.
    My husband and i habe been foster care parents to a girl but she is family. She has been in our care for 7 years and just turned 17.
    She now tells us that she no longer wants to stay with us and that she no longer needs our help. I habr contacted her biological mother who has told me i must send her back to her. We stay in gauteng and the mother stays in kwazulu natal.
    Can sime please help on the legal implications as we dont want to be held responsible. Do i need to inform the social worker who hasnt even seen us in the last 4 years. How do i let tbis child leave my home.
    Thank you

  10. Ragenhild Coventry says:

    My sister and her 9 year old son have living with us for 4 years. His dad does not pay maintenance despite the court order and my sister is currently out of work. She has been temping where ever she can find work. We have never expected her to contribute towards the household expenses, only that she take care of her son financially as best a possible. eg, school books and uniform, we take care of the rest. His dad is unable to take of himself let alone a child. However they love their son. We recently found out my sister has stage 3b cervical cancer. Her prognosis is good. However, our concern has always been if something happens to my sister, he will be taken to live his dad. As I stated, he is not in a position to care for himself let a lone a child.
    My sister had a meeting yesterday, with the head of social workers in our town, She suggested my husband and I either adopt my nephew or foster him. Adoption is out of the question as his dad would never agree. We would gladly foster him, as things would not change to much. We are already responsible for his up bringing and care. He is the type of child that does not like change. He loves routine.
    We would never keep him away from his dad. And we would still let my sister be his mom and the final decision on things. I have a number of questions and was wondering if anyone could advise me.
    1. My husband is 51 and I am 50, will this be a problem?
    2. Does the dad need to agree to the fostering? Bear in mind, my sister does not want him to know about her cancer. She doesn’t want the dad to know we are looking into fostering him.
    3. I have read that we would only be able to foster him for 2 years and then the courts make a decision about his welfare there after. I goes without saying that they would consider giving him to his dad if his mom is not here anymore. If the dad is still unfit, would the courts still send him to live with him even if living with us is better?

    I can’t think of anymore questions right now, as my mind is spinning. Should I have any other questions, could I email them directly to you instead of on this forum.

    Thank you. Much appreciate your advice.



  11. Nicole Van Der Westhuizen says:

    Good morning all
    I am looking for foster parents for 3 beautiful children (girl age 8) (boy age 10) (boy age 13)
    They have been placed in a home just out of East London and are in desperate need of a good loving home
    Please contact Cmr for any further information

  12. Lourens Dixon says:

    How many forster children can I have in south Africa

  13. Please advice. A lady at our church has a foster home. Before Christmas she was given a 3 week old baby girl. I have had her stay with us for 3 days. We are so in love with her. This morning, after she said I could keep her another week, she told me the mother has confessed to having hiv. We had to take the baby girl back. But the story got more detailed on our return. We really want to foster this baby girl. But what can we do to register and to also ensure we get her. I am worried I am being conned based on my emotions but I am strongly wanting to protect this little baby girl. Is there a way we can proceed. The woman has phoned and said I can come and collect the baby girl again, but I’m devastated at how this feels and how unstable it is. Why is the mom allowed contact after the courts noted abandonment 4 days ago? My hubby feels we are not been told the whole story. And I am concerned about this baby girl. Please help me help her. I want her safe and I also want to know if she does stay with us that it is legally ok.

    • Mark Morcom says:

      Were you given a form 36 for the baby, or was the baby handed to you by a Social Worker. A foster home has no legal right to transfer a baby into the care of another person without a leave of absence. If you have not received any paperwork, I suggest you immediately apply for a Criminal Record Clearance and approach the relevant Social Worker to put things in order.

      Foster care is unstable. The child can, and they do leave at a moments notice. Your job as a foster parent is to ensure that the best interest of the child is upheld, not necessarily your best interest. It is normal for the mom to visit, even in the case of abandonment. I can illustrate this with a child that I have cared for who I had to sit on a river bank with the mom talking her out of drowning the baby. The mom has visitation, under our supervision, We do not know why she did what she did, it could have been due to mental illness, post postpartum depression, clinical depression, or spousal abuse. This is up to the Social Worker to Decide

  14. keratiloenaledimokoena says:

    Hi, my name is Keratiloe. I am. 20 years old, I have a job that pays well and my own apartment. I am very interested in being a foster parent, I have alot of love to give and guidence to share and help a child who didn’t have the same opportunities.
    I just want to be given the chance to be a good parent and share my love with a child that needs it.
    I am so excited about this life time commitment that even though I know it will not always be smooth sailing it will be worth every storm we come across.
    I even went and got first aid training just to prepare.

  15. Natasha Eloff says:

    Is there a age limet to becoming a foster parent.

    • Not necessarily. In family (kinship) placements the attachment with and health of the caregivers will rank higher than the age of the carers. Usually, in private foster placements, the cut-off age of the caregivers is in the area of 55. However, each situation is unique and other factors (such as the age of the foster child) are also taken into consideration.

  16. if I’m interested in becoming a foster parent, how does it work… for example, if I want to help maybe a 4 year old. Is it possible or don’t you have a choice in who they want to give you to foster?

    • You are allowed to ask for a specific aged group child. However, the more specific you are the longer you might have to wait for a placement.

      On 24 Feb 2017 3:25 p.m., “Foster Care in South Africa” wrote:


  17. Hi can i as a foster care parent apply for a birth certificate for my child

    • No, the child’s Case Worker needs to apply for it.

      • Mark Morcom says:

        Yes, it is supposed to be from a Social Worker, but in reality the Foster parents are asked to do it, and it can be applied for as long as you have an order. I have been a foster parent for 10 years, and with all the cases, a Social Worker has never once got the Birth Certificate, and I have had to

  18. Good day. Please contact your closest CMR or Welfare Offices to apply. there is a detailed Nationwide List of CMR offices on the information page of this blog.

    On 1 Dec 2016 11:54 p.m., “Foster Care in South Africa” wrote:

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