The challenges affecting foster care in a “failed-state” context: case of the SEDI child protection network in South-Kivu province, Democratic Republic of Congo

Agino Foussiakda Cécilia & Amani C. Kasherwa - Children and Youth Services Review


Foster care is widely described as an effective approach for the relief and protection of children experiencing abuse and neglect in their homes. Less recognized is the particularly challenging experience of foster carers in “failed-state” settings and the resulting effects on foster children’s reintegration process. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, no public out-of-home care is established for vulnerable children. In July, 2017, “Foyer Ekabana”, launched a network of parents at parish level who willingly accepted to foster vulnerable children, named “Secours à l’enfant en difficulté, SEDI”. While this network is an innovative foster care approach, it remained not a panacea for the reintegration of all vulnerable children. The placement process and motivations were based on the child’s physical protection, disregarding other key aspects of reintegration such as primary caregivers’ involvement or the psychosocial wellbeing of foster children. Using a phenomenological research design, this study delves into the motivations and challenging experience of foster carers in South-Kivu. Three major challenges to foster care emerged from the themes of the study: the context of generalized poverty; the poor legal & organizational framework and the lack of adequate manpower and resources. This article also emphasized protracted disorganized attachment risks among foster children, in addition to reflections for an integrated out-of-home care protocol in post-conflict settings.