Department of Social Development
The social development department has clarified its position on the proposed removal of adoption fees as contained in the Draft Children’s Amendment Bill.
The draft bill was published for comment towards the end of last year.
It is designed to further promote and protect the child’s right to physical and psychological integrity.
The draft bill seeks to amend the Children’s Act, 2005, to:
• further promote and protect the child’s right to physical and psychological integrity;
• further regulate the position of unmarried fathers;
• extend the children’s court jurisdiction to hear applications for guardianship;
• provide for matters relating to the provision and funding of early childhood development programmes;
• strengthen provisions relating to the National Child Protection Register;
• regulate the care of abandoned or orphaned children by family members;
• further regulate the initiation of care and protection proceedings;
• further regulate the medical testing of children for foster care and adoption purposes;
• clarify procedures for children in alternative care;
• further regulate matters relating to adoption and inter-country adoption;
• expedite the hearing of child abduction matters and to provide for legal representation of children;
• adjust the criteria relating to surrogate motherhood and to provide for related matters;
• align the Act with the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act, 2007, and the Jurisdiction of Regional Courts Amendment Act, 2008;
• align the Act with court judgments;
• supplement provisions relating to children with disabilities;
• empower the Minister to make additional regulations;
• remove certain inconsistencies; and
• provide for matters connected therewith.
In a statement, the department declared that the adoption fee clause amendment provides that “adoption is one of the designated child protection services as stipulated in Section 105 (5) of the Act” and therefore shouldn’t attract a fee.
“Like all other designated child protection services, fees should not be charged for adoption because it is not a business but a child protection measure”.
The department adds that the adoption service should not be “commodified but be viewed as a means of protecting the best interests of children by placing them with permanent and suitable families”.
The department further clarified that the proposed removal of adoption fees would not mean that social workers, lawyers, psychologists and other professionals would be prohibited from rendering adoption services.