JOURNAL OF UWC FACULTY OF LAW | ISSN 2077-4907 | Short URL www.ldd.org.za

Too little? Too late? The implications of the Grootboom case for state responses to child-headed households

Volume: Volume 7(1) - 2003

Article type: Refereed article

Author/s: Sloth-Nielsen, Julia

The article begins with an overview of the socio-economic context surrounding child-headed households and then discusses the constitutional obligations that rest on the state vis-a-vis children growing up in these settings. Considering the scope of the state's obligation where the parents of children below the age of 18 are deceased or unable to render parental care as well as the emerging constitutional recognition of the right to family life, it is concluded that the state must ensure that children living in child-headed households are integrated into some form of family environment.

Against this background the state's articulated policy on the situation of child-headed households is examined and its reasonableness is assessed. Noting various shortcoming in the policy, it is suggested that failure of the government's HIV/AlDS programmes to prioritise emergency relief would constitute a contravention of the Grootboom principles. The constitutional rights of children living in child-headed households are thus not adequately protected by the existing policy framework.

About the author/s

Julia Sloth-Nielsen

Julia Sloth-Nielsen is Professor of Law at the University of the Western Cape and the chair of Children’s Rights in the Developing World at the Child Law Department at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands.

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