The contribution of volunteers to early intervention services in a community-based child protection programme at a selected non-governmental organisation

Swart, Heidi (2017-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Child maltreatment in South Africa is a pervasive social problem. South African child protection services follow the family preservation approach, where services strive to keep the child safely in the home, addressing the causes of the maltreatment while working with the family as active participants. Family preservation services are rendered within a continuum of care, which consists of prevention services, early intervention services, and statutory services. Prevention services are aimed at broader population groups in order to prevent child maltreatment through raising general awareness of the issue and the community resources available to address it. Early intervention services include developmental and therapeutic interventions aimed at specific families who are at risk of statutory intervention because maltreatment has already occurred. Statutory intervention (when a child is placed in foster care, for instance) occurs only once the other two service levels have proved unsuccessful in ensuring the child's safety. The type of service (prevention, early intervention or statutory) rendered is determined by the degree of risk of maltreatment. Much international research has been conducted to identify risk factors associated with child maltreatment by utilising the ecological model. Maltreatment is viewed as a result of risk factors occurring at the micro-, meso- and macro-levels of the ecological model. Thus, the practice assumption is that family preservation services should address risk factors on various ecological levels to prevent maltreatment. Child Welfare South Africa is a child protection agency that implements a family preservation programme named the Isolabantwana project: community-based volunteers render early intervention services to specific families at risk of having their children removed. This project shares several characteristics with established American family preservation programmes but was designed to fit the unique needs of South African communities. The Isolabantwana project is implemented nationally in more than 200 communities. This study was undertaken because there is a lack of research regarding such early intervention services rendered by volunteers in South Africa. The aim of this study was to gain a better understanding of the contribution of volunteers to early intervention services in a community-based child protection programme at a selected child welfare organisation. Since this is a relatively new field of study, a qualitative approach and a descriptive and exploratory research design were utilised. This study first presented international research findings of risk factors for child maltreatment from an ecological perspective, and an overview of early intervention services and its function within the continuum of care of the family preservation approach. Guided by this theoretical context, the researcher conducted semi-structured interviews with fourteen Isolabantwana volunteers who were selected by means of a purposive sampling method. Empirical findings showed that volunteer workload (how many families they worked with at any one time, how often they saw families, the length of visitations as well as overall service duration) was considerably more flexible than workloads of Western family preservation models. This can be viewed as a positive adaptation of a family preservation model that is community-based and addresses problems specific to South African communities. Volunteers dealt with families facing stressors identified in the literature as maltreatment risk factors. Volunteers addressed several of these crucial risk factors. Obstacles to service delivery, such as a lack of referral resources, or an under-utilisation of volunteer potential, were identified. A major part of volunteers' services, is to remove a child from a home (for a maximum of 48 hours) when the child is at high risk of maltreatment. The way in which participants assess risk in order to decide whether or not to remove a child, was explored. It emerged that, although participants for the most part removed a child from a high risk situation where serious physical harm was likely to occur, there were certain circumstances where the child was left in a high risk situations due to mitigating factors. Based on these findings, several recommendations for practice and further research were made.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Kindermishandeling in Suid-Afrika is 'n ernstige sosiale kwessie. Suid-Afrikaanse kinderbeskermingsorganisasies volg die gesinsinstandhoudingsbenadering en lewer dienste wat poog om die kind veilig binne sy of haar gesin te hou, terwyl die oorsake van mishandeling aangespreek word en die gesin aktief by die proses betrek word. Gesinsinstandhoudingsdienste word gelewer binne 'n diens-kontinuum wat voorkomende dienste, vroeë intervensiedienste, en statutêre intervensiedienste insluit. Voorkomende dienste is gemik op breë teikengroepe en sluit in algemene dienste om kindermishandeling te voorkom deur bewusmaking van die probleem en hulpbronne om dit aan te spreek. Vroeë intervensiedienste is ontwikkelingsgerig en terapeuties van aard, en gemik op spesifieke hoë-risiko gesinne waar kindermishandeling reeds plaasgevind het. Statutêre intervensie (soos, byvoorbeeld, as 'n kind in pleegsorg geplaas word) vind slegs plaas wanneer dienslewering op die ander twee vlakke nie daarin slaag om die kind te beskerm nie. Die tipe diens (voorkomende dienste, vroeë intervensiedienste, of statutêre intervensiedienste) wat gelewer word, word bepaal deur die graad van risiko van mishandeling waarin die kind verkeer. Heelwat internasionale studies is uitgevoer om risikofaktore wat met kindermishandeling geassosieer word, te identifiseer. Risikofaktore word oor die algemeen binne die ekologiese model nagevors, en mishandeling word gesien as die resultaat van verskeie risikofaktore wat op die mikro-, meso-, en makro-vlakke van die ekologiese model geleë is. Die aanname is dus dat gesinsinstandhoudingsdienste risikofaktore op verskeie ekologiese vlakke sal moet aanspreek. Child Welfare South Africa is 'n kinderbeskermingsorganisasie wat gedeeltelik gesinsinstandhoudingsdienste deur die Isolabantwana projek lewer. Hierdie projek is gemeenskapsgebaseerd, omdat vrywilligers binne hul eie gemeenskappe aan gesinne vroeë intervensiedienste lewer. Die projek deel sekere eienskappe met Amerikaanse gesinsinstandhoudingsprogramme, maar is deur die organisasie ontwerp om spesifiek die behoeftes van Suid-Afrikaanse gemeenskappe aan te spreek. Die projek word op nasionale vlak geïmplementeer en is in meer as 200 gemeenskappe gevestig. Hierdie studie is onderneem omdat daar 'n tekort aan navorsing is oor vroeë intervensiedienste wat deur vrywilligers gelewer word aan Suid-Afrikaanse gesinne waar kinders mishandel word. Die doel van die studie was om die bydraes van vrywilligers tot vroeë intervensiedienste in 'n gemeenskapsgebaseerde kinderbeskermingsprogram by 'n geselekteerde nie-regeringsorganisasie, te ondersoek. Aangesien hierdie 'n relatief nuwe studieveld is, is die kwalitatiewe benadering, asook 'n verkennende en beskrywende navorsingsontwerp gebruik. Die studie het eerstens internasionale navorsingsbevindinge oor risikofaktore vir kindermishandeling vanuit die ekologiese perspektief, beskryf. Daarna is 'n oorsig van vroeë intervensiedienste en die funksie van sulke dienste binne die kontinuum van gesinsinstandhoudingsdienste, bespreek. Hierdie teoretiese konteks is gebruik om die navorser te lei om semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude met 14 Isolabantwana vrywilligers te voer wat deur 'n selektiewe steekproef geselekteer is. Daar is bevind dat vrywilligers se werkslading (hoe baie gesinne hulle mee werk, hoe dikwels hulle gesinne sien, hoe lank hulle intervensiesessies met gesinne duur, en hoe lank die gesinne deel bly van hulle gevalleladings) baie meer aanpasbaar is as die wersklading van Westerse modelle van gesinsinstandhouding. Dit kan as 'n positiewe aanpassing van Westerse gesinsinstandhoudingsmodelle gesien word, omdat dit die unieke behoeftes van Suid-Afrikaanse gemeenskappe aanspreek. Vrywilligers werk met gesinne wat stressors wat as risikofaktore vir kindermishandeling beskou word, ervaar. Daar is bevind dat vrywilligers heelwat van hierdie risikofaktore deur hul dienslewering aanspreek, alhoewel dienslewering beperk word deur faktore soos 'n tekort aan hulpbronne om gesinne na te verwys, asook die onderbenutting van die vrywilligers se potensiaal. 'n Hooffokus van vrywilligerdienste, is om 'n kind uit 'n huis te verwyder (vir 'n maksimum tydperk van 48 uur) wanneer die kind 'n hoë risiko loop om ernstig mishandel te word. Die manier hoe vrywilligers risiko assesseer om sodoende te besluit om 'n kind te verwyder of nie, is ondersoek. Dis bevind dat, alhoewel vrywilligers meestal kinders uit hoë-risiko omstandighede verwyder, hulle onder sekere omstandighede steeds besluit om 'n kind binne 'n potensiële hoë-risiko situasie te los. Verskeie aanbevelings is gemaak vir die praktyk en vir verdere navorsing, gebasseer op die voorafgaande bevindinge.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/101147
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