A Pretoria boy who spent seven years in foster care, was recently reunited with his mother.
“At age seven he was removed from his family home due to severe violence. The entire family was at risk – one of the worst cases we have ever seen,” explains the social worker who supported the boy all this time. “But his story is a story of hope: we never give up” says Henda van der Merwe, director of CMR Gauteng-Oos.
Kobus* (nom de plume) struggled initially – as a result of the trauma he experienced at such a young age; he had many emotional and behavioural problems to overcome,” she explains.
“His caregivers at the foster home had a very trying time with his anger problems, anxiety and suicide attempts. Such a road is not an easy one and demands more than just love and patience.”
CMR Gauteng-Oos supports their foster parents with ongoing training and emotional support and in cases like this young boy – the impact on the foster family is carefully monitored and problems are addressed.
“The CMR, a registered Child Protection Organisation with statutory powers, aim to keep families together and manages to reunite families despite the common impression that we just remove children from their homes,” explains van der Merwe.
“Circumstances like child molestation or -neglect leads to a court order which instructs organisations like CMR Gauteng-Oos to remove the child. The child is taken to a place of safety and can be placed in a foster home, Industrial School or Children’s Home, following careful investigation into what would be best for the individual child. Children are only returned to their homes if the circumstances have changed in a positive way and if deemed in the interest of the child.
Kobus and his mother were quite nervous before reuniting, says the social worker who assisted them with the reuniting process.
What led to this happening? He wrote his mother a letter in which he asked her to answer his many questions about his background. She had only had telephonic contact with the social worker, but after receiving the letter, she expressed the wish to have her son living with her. Both of them received counselling to prepare them emotionally.
Van der Merwe concludes: “In accordance with the Children’s Act (Act 38 of 2005) we try in all cases not to alienate a child from his parents. Social workers have to keep the child in contact with the parents, with the help of his ‘new parents’. A working agreement, prepared by the social worker, is entered into, and signed by all parties. A child’s story can become a success story. Kobus’ story is such a story of hope and success.”
CMR Gauteng-Oos currently supports almost 900 children in foster care.
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