Master’s Research Critically Investigates Foster Care Grants as a Poverty Alleviation Strategy
Mr Nkosiyakhe Shabalala, a social worker at the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Department of Social Development (DSD), was thrilled to graduate with his Master’s in Development Studies.
His study critically examines Foster Care Grants (FCGs) as a poverty alleviation strategy in KZN, and how the FCG contributes to breaking the cycle of poverty among recipients.
He found that some participants expressed gratitude for the FCG, claiming that it provides them with psychological relief because they no longer have to worry about how they will financially support children in the absence of their biological parents.
The responses demonstrated that the grant provided beneficiaries with financial resources such as future savings, the ability to budget as well as monthly income. In terms of challenges and opportunities faced by the FCG recipients, the study’s findings indicated that recipients are faced with emotional and fostering challenges, the grant application process, and the grant amount.
Shabalala believes that his research will benefit the DSD, the Department of Justice and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) to find new ways to improve the application procedure so that the grant is easily accessible.
He also noted that the DSD is not fully supporting grantees with programmes designed to address the emotional and psychological issues experienced by grant beneficiaries. ‘Some respondents have fostered their grandchildren since their parents are deceased, and so these foster children occasionally remind them of their late daughters and sons. The foster parents have expressed their grief for their children’s deaths. DSD should provide programmes and services to address the issues that the FCG beneficiaries face.’
His study also emphasised the critical importance of social services (DSD) in assisting foster parents, as well as the need to develop new approaches for linking children’s wellbeing.
Shabalala is grateful to his family, friends and supervisor, Professor Shauna Mottiar, for their encouragement and support. He also dedicated his degree to his late mother, Mrs Busisiwe Mafingili Shabalala.
Advising other students, he said, ‘Never underestimate yourself, but keep on digging until you discover the truth.’
Shabalala plans to pursue his PhD in the near future.
Words: Melissa Mungroo
Photograph: Rogan Ward