The implementation of changed policies pertaining to child and youth care : views and experiences of team members

Rossouw, Lynette (2009-12)

Thesis (DPhil (Social Work))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The changes in child and youth care policies over the last fifteen years have had profound consequences for the staff at Youth Care and Education Centres (hereafter referred to as YCECs). These changes included systemic changes, philosophical changes, and changes in the way services are rendered to children and youth in their care. It was thus expected of team members to not only change their behaviours but to also make mind shifts. The mandates were that they move from working in silos (educators, residential educators and support team) to working in teams; from rendering generic services to developing individualised plans for children and youth; from following a medical (deficit) approach in service delivery to following a strength based- and developmental approach. Whereas a punitive approach to discipline was followed in the past staff members now have to follow a restorative approach. In addition, the emphasis on children’s rights, in general, and the abolishment of corporal punishment, in particular, brought about changes in the nature of the adultchild relationship. It was required of the team members to learn to use alternatives to this form of punishment. The study explored how the members of the institutional level teams at the four YCECs in the Western Cape were experiencing the implementation of changed child and youth policies. A combined quantitative and qualitative research methodology was followed in obtaining the data from the residential educators, as well as the educators and the support team members comprising of psychologists, school social workers, occupational therapists, and school nurses. The points of departure were the organisational learning model and the phases of team development. Findings derived from the empirical study were that the difference between the way the participants embraced and implemented changed policies and legislation had much to do with the guidance that the principal and senior management provided for them. Where the principal set the tone and conveyed the message that the implementation of the policies were not negotiable and gave staff members the opportunity to thoroughly discuss these changes, they eventually shared the underlying principles of the changed policies. Where the principal provided direction, support and encouragement for the implementation of the changed policies the participants felt secure and empowered. Where this support was not present participants felt uncertain and to some extent let down. When a shared vision was articulated to them the participants were able to align their personal visions thereto, which further led to a greater understanding of their roles within the team. Where participants, however, were not clear on the shared vision they seemed to struggle with role division and status and power issues. When team members were left to their own devices a measure of personal mastery still took place due to the commitment of individuals but team learning was either limited or virtually nonexistent. Systems thinking remained a challenge due to the forming of subgroups within the YCEC and the limited or nonexistent services rendered by external social workers to the families of the children and youth. The most important recommendations resulting from the study indicate that provision must be made for frameworks for the implementation of changes in policy and guidelines for team processes. To ensure that new staff is informed about the policies that guide their services an orientation programme must be in place. Training for principals in effective introduction and implementation of change should also be provided. To ascertain what the staff complement should be to effectively implement changes in the policies, a work-study and a fast track pilot project should be conducted. From this, job descriptions should be developed that make provision for the incumbent’s role within the team. Consideration should also be given to the incentive system that currently only makes provision for individual performance and could hamper teamwork.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die veranderinge in kinder- en jeugsorgbeleide oor die laaste vyftien jaar het diepgaande gevolge ingehou vir personeel by Jeugsorg- en Onderwyssentrums (hierna verwys as JSOS). Hierdie veranderinge het sistemiese en filosofiese veranderings, asook verandering in die wyse waarop dienste gelewer word, aan kinders en jeug in hul sorg, meegebring. Dit word dus van die spanlede verwag om nie net hul gedrag nie, maar ook hul denkwyse te verander. Die mandate vervat in die beleide is dat personeel skuif van werk in silos (opvoeders, residensiële opvoeders en ondersteuningspan) na werk in spanne; van die lewer van generiese dienste tot die ontwikkeling van individuale planne vir kinders en jeug; van die volg van ‘n mediese benadering aangaande dienslewering tot ‘n sterkte-gebaseerde- en ontwikkelingsbenadering. Waar daar in die verlede ‘n strafgerigte benadering gevolg is moet daar nou beweeg word na ‘n helende benadering. Verder het die klem op kinderregte in die algemeen, en die afskaf van lyfstraf in besonder, veranderings meegebring in die aard van die volwasse-kind verhouding. Dit was verwag van die spanlede om te leer om alternatiewes tot die vorm van straf aan te leer. Die studie het ondersoek ingestel na hoe lede van die inrigtingsgebaseerde span by die vier JSOS in die Weskaap die implementering van veranderde kinder- en jeugbeleid ervaar. ‘n Gekombineerde kwantitatiewe en kwalitatiwe navorsing metodologie was gevolg in die insamel van data van die residensiële opvoeders, die opvoeders en die lede van die ondersteuningspan (sielkundiges, skool maatskaplike werkers, arbeidsterapeute en skool verpleegkundiges). Die vertrekpunt was the organisasieleer model en die fases van spanontwikkeling. Bevindings wat gemaak is uit die empiriese studie was dat die verskille tussen die wyse waarop die deelnemers die veranderde beleid aanvaar en implementeer het baie te doen gehad het met die mate van leiding wat die prinsipaal en senior bestuur vir hul gegee het. Waar die prinsipaal die toon aangegee het en die boodskap oorgedra het dat die implementering van die beleide nie onderhandelbaar was nie en personeellede die geleentheid gebied is om die veranderings deeglik te bespreek, het hul geleidelik ingekoop in die veranderde werkswyses. Waar die prinsipaal rigting en ondersteuning vir die implementering van die veranderde beleid gebied het, het die deelnemers veilig en bemagtig gevoel. Waar die ondersteuning egter ontbreek het, het die deelnemers onseker en, tot ’n mate, in die steek gelaat gevoel. Wanneer ‘n gedeelde visie oorgedra is aan hulle was die deelnemers in staat om hul persoonlike visies in lyn te bring daarmee. Dit het verder aanleiding gegee tot beter begrip vir hul rolle binne die span. Waar deelnemers egter nie duidelik was oor die gedeelde visie nie, het dit geblyk dat hulle probleme gehad het met rolverdeling, status en magaangeleenthede in die span. Wanneer spanlede oorgelaat is aan hul eie lot het ‘n mate van persoonlike bemeestering nog plaasgevind as gevolg van die persoonlike toewyding van individue, maar spanleer was óf beperk óf feitlik afwesig. Sisteem denke was steeds ‘n struikelblok as gevolg van die vorming van subgroepe binne die JSOS en die beperkte of afwesige dienslewering deur eksterne maatskaplike wekers aan gesinne van die kinders en jong mense. Die belangrikste aanbevelings, wat voortspruit uit die studie, dui aan dat voorsiening gemaak moet word vir raamwerke vir die implementering van beleidsveranderings en riglyne vir spanprosesse. Om te verseker dat nuwe personeel ingelig is omtrent die beleide wat hul dienslewering rig moet ‘n oriënteringsprogram in plek wees. Opleiding van prinsipale in die effektiewe bekendstelling en implementering van veranderings moet ook voorsien word. Om vas te stel wat die aanvulling vir personeel moet wees om die veranderings in die beleid te implementeer, behoort ‘n werkstudie en ‘n snel loodsprojek onderneem word. Hieruit kan pligstate opgestel word wat voorsiening maak vir die ampsdraer se rol in spanverband. Oorweging moet geskenk word aan die aansporingstelsel wat tans net voorsiening maak vir individuele werksverrigting en wat spanwerk kan strem.

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