Answer to a question from a reader

What child support options are available to mothers who cannot supply supporting documents?

The short answer

They will not qualify for government support, but there may be community programmes that could help.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

I work for an NGO training churches and members of the community to support families. We've been asked what a mother can do if she does not qualify for a child support grant – such as she is a foreigner, or she is taking care of a child that is not hers without proof of fostering. What can we tell people?

The long answer

I’m afraid that the answer is that if a person is not a South African citizen, or permanent resident, or a refugee with refugee papers, she will not get any help from the government.  

That said, in June 2020 the Scalabrini Centre, together with the law firm of Norton, Rose and Fullbright, went to court asking that foreigners with official asylum seeker papers should also get the R350 Social Relief of Distress grant, and they won.  

But, foreign mothers who do not have official asylum seeker papers will not qualify and may well be living in fear of being deported. There is no social safety net for these mothers and their children. They have nowhere to go except to NGOs, churches and community organisations, who may have programmes to assist them. 

You could perhaps approach the Scalabrini Centre and ask if they have any information about programmes to assist mothers who do not qualify for any social grant. Their email address is

These are some of the programmes that the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town runs, and the following information was copied from their website:

Women's Platform

Our Women’s Platform  brings together women through training and development programme. To contact the Women’s Platform at this time, please email or send a Whatsapp message to 061 649 6552

Advocacy / Paralegal Advice

To contact the Advocacy Programme, you can send a WhatsApp or call to 078 260 3536. If you send a message, this will be logged and one of the Advocacy team members will get back to you. 


Please note, our Welfare Team has a very limited fund to help refugees and migrants at this time. Please understand that the Welfare Team are simply not able to assist everyone. To apply, please call or send a ‘please-call’ SMS to 071 711 1486 (Monday-Friday 9am-4pm). You can also email


Scalabrini runs a project focusing on non-South African / foreign children. We provide assistance in terms of child protection and documentation, and our team includes a social worker and auxiliary social worker. If you are concerned about the welfare of a child during lock-down please send an SMS or a “please-call-me” to our Advocacy hotline on 0782603536.

Wishing you the best,

Answered on Nov. 11, 2021, 4:37 p.m.

See more questions and answers

Please note. We are not lawyers or financial advisors. We do our best to make the answers accurate, but we cannot accept any legal liability if there are errors.