n Ubuntu : Journal of Conflict and Social Transformation - Caring for non-relative foster children in South Africa : voices of female foster parents

Volume 8 Number 2
  • ISSN : 2078-760X
  • E-ISSN: 2050-4950


An increasing number of children require alternative placement for their care and protection in South Africa. The overwhelming socio-economic factors negatively impact on the capacity of the extended family to continue to serve as an effective safety net which has inevitably led to the emergence of non-relative foster parents. Anecdotal evidence suggests a sense of apathy and suspicion regarding the non-relative foster parents especially with regards to motivation for fostering. This paper, therefore, seeks to explore and describe the motivation of non-relative foster parents. Findings come from a broader doctoral study which explored the experiences of twenty non-relative foster parents in De Deur, South Africa. Semi-structured interviews and a focus group discussion were used to collect data. The findings show that the foster parents were motivated by altruistic and intrinsic factors such as fostering as a calling; personal life experiences; and a desire to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable children. The study concludes that the motives expressed are likely to be associated with positive outcomes for foster children and result in placement stability. This paper therefore, recommends that the selection and assessment criteria for non-relative foster parents should be based on the examination of their motivations to ensure foster care placement success and retention.

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