The high demand for substitute care in South Africa, and in particular foster care, poses challenges for statutory social workers in rendering developmental social services. The goal of the study was to explore the challenges facing statutory social workers in linking foster care services with socio-economic development programmes in order to promote sustainable livelihoods. Findings indicate that the foster child grant contributes to poverty alleviation. However, to reduce poverty in foster care households, holistic foster care services require integrated socio-economic development programmes. Strategies are recommended to integrate socio-economic development in delivering foster care services to promote sustainable livelihoods.