What is foster care?
The Government of Eswatini has taken renewed interest in advocating, securing and promoting the rights of every vulnerable child through a very hands-on and practical National Foster Care Programme.
Foster care is the temporary placement of a child who is in need of care and protection. The child is placed in the care of a suitable person who is not the parent or guardian of the child. It involves bringing a child into your home to care for and nurture, as the State Certified Caregiver, using the domestic environment of a family other than the children’s own family.
In all these instances, the children are placed by a competent authority (Justice System) for the purpose of alternative care by preselected, qualified, approved and supervised State Partners, suited for providing such care.
Foster care can be short term, (one week to 3 months), medium term (above 3 months but less than 6 months) or long term (beyond 6 months). Long term foster care services can go beyond six months and can last until child reaches the age of 18. Placement is done on a case-by-case basis, as determined by the principles of Necessity & Suitability, as well as other general principles of alternative care for children (UN Guidelines on Alternative Care for Children (2009); Swaziland Guidelines on Alternative Care (2009).
Foster care can be provided as an emergency response on short, medium or long term basis. Emergency placement applies when foster parents open their homes and hearts to children affected during an emergency; with foster parents providing a safe and family-like environment for the child/children, while efforts aimed at tracing and reunifying the affected children with the families of origin or next of kin.
Foster care can be voluntarily or involuntarily. Voluntary placement occurs when the biological parent or lawful guardian is unable to care for a child, while involuntary placement occurs when a child is removed from the biological parent or lawful guardian due to risk or actual occurrence of physical or psychological harm. This may also include instances when the biological parent or lawful guardian is unwilling to care for the child or due to neglect.