Nevashnee Perumal, Madhu Kasiram


The dominant view in South Africa and internationally, supported by various legislative tools, is
that vulnerable children are best cared for in foster homes as compared to Children’s Homes
(Kiraly, 2001; Long, 2007; McKay, 2002; Morei, 2002). Legislation in South Africa pertaining
to the care and protection of children is presently under review. The Children’s Bill consists of
two sections: Section 75 and Section 76. Section 75 of the Bill was signed by President Mbeki in
June 2006, and is called the Children’s Act 38/2005 and Section 76 of the Bill remains before
parliament, being referred to as the Children’s Amendment Bill [B19-2006]. The Children’s Act
38/2005 is not operational as yet and social service providers are still using the Child Care Act
74/1983. It is envisioned that the Children’s Act 38/2005 will replace the Child Care Act
74/1983 in 2008 (Jacobs, Shung-King & Smith, 2005). Should alternative care be necessary for
a vulnerable child, the Children’s Act 38/2005 prioritises a foster care placement over a child
and youth care centre, of which a Children’s Home is a part (Section 46(1)(a)). Given the steady
decline in traditional family living as a result of, amongst other factors, HIV/AIDS, poverty and
unemployment in South Africa, the dominant view of family care being prioritised may not
always be a feasible option. Of course, sound social work practice, where individual needs
match placement, must always predominate in the decision on the placement of the child. The
article critically reviews two alternative care options from an ecological and structural social
work framework

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