The role of the social worker in the reunification of foster children with their biological parents

De Villiers, Angelique (2008-03)

Thesis (M Social Work)--Stellenbosch University, 2008.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: A combination of an exploratory and descriptive study together with an approach containing elements of both the quantitative and qualitative approach was chosen in order to obtain knowledge of and insight into the role of the social worker in the reunification of foster children with their biological parents. The motivation for this study arose from the awareness of the lack of South African literature on the role of the social worker in the reunification of foster children with their biological parents as well as the lack of accessible information about social workers’ use of reconstruction services in the reunification of foster children and biological parents in South Africa. The researcher became aware of this lack in South African literature about family reunification services and programmes delivered during a preliminary search done on the Nexus Data-Base (1999). The aim of the study is therefore to gain a better understanding of how social workers render reconstruction services to contribute to the reunification process of foster children with their biological parents in terms of the Child Care Act 74 of 1983. The literature study first focused on the process and procedures of statutory removal of children within the South African context of the Child Care Act 74 of 1983 to gain a better understanding of the circumstances where the removal of children is justifiable according to the Act. The literature study was also undertaken to gain insight into the decisions social workers make when placing children in foster care as well as the services social workers deliver to foster parents, biological parents and foster children during reconstruction service delivery. The role of the social worker in the delivery of foster care and reconstruction services was explored, where the social development and strengths perspectives have become the norm, guiding social workers to engage in a range of interventions as stipulated in the White Paper for Social Welfare (Ministry for Welfare and Population Development, 1997) and the Integrated Service Delivery Model (2004). he researcher involved 21 social workers in this study who render reconstruction services with both children and their parents in selected non-governmental organizations (NGOs) rendering child and family welfare services in the Strand, Stellenbosch, Somerset West, Kuils River and the Department of Social Services in Paarl. The results of the investigation largely confirmed the findings of the literature study namely that a large number of children are removed from parental care (the biological parents), and need reconstruction services from child welfare organizations in South Africa where social workers are the catalysts in rendering such services. Social workers however, due to the lack of sufficient resources such as time and sufficient numbers, do not have the ability to deliver reconstruction services to sustain and enhance the prompt return of children to their biological parents. The results therefore gave a good indication of social workers’ delivery of reconstruction services. Social workers should have their workload reduced, enabling them to provide more therapeutic services to foster children, biological parents and foster families in the foster care process; government should support welfare organizations financially, increasing the probability of welfare organizations to employ more social workers, and thereby increasing the number of social workers rendering reconstruction services; social workers should through cooperation with other welfare organizations deliver foster care services to increase resources such as knowledge and skills to assist foster children and their biological parents in their reunification. The recommendations were aimed at services relating to assessment, prevention and intervention with this vulnerable and marginalized group. The recommendations also included that future research be done in order to focus on the specific reconstruction services that could increase the probability of foster children returning to their biological parents. This may decrease the large number of foster children currently staying in foster care for longer than the restricted period of two years.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: ʼn Kombinasie van ʼn verkennende en beskrywende studie, tesame met ʼn benadering wat beginsels van sowel die kwantitatiewe as oor die kwalitatiewe benadering insluit was gekies in ʼn poging om kennis en insig te verkry van die rol van die maatskaplike werker in die hereniging van pleegkinders met hul biologiese ouers. Die motivering vir hierdie studie het na vore gekom na bewuswording van ʼn leemte in Suid-Afrikaanse literatuur oor die rol van die maatskaplike werker in die hereniging van pleegkinders met hul biologiese ouers, insluitende ʼn leemte aan toeganklike inligting aangaande maatskaplike werkers se gebruik van rekonstruksie dienslewering in die hereniging van pleegkinders met hul biologiese ouers. Die navorser het van hierdie leemte in die Suid- Afrikaanse literatuur ten opsigte van familiehereniging dienslewering en die lewering van programme bewus geword tydens ʼn voorondersoek van die Nexus- databasis (1999). Die doel van die studie was dus om inligting in te samel om ʼn beter begrip te ontwikkel van maatskaplike werkers se lewering van rekonstruksie dienste wanneer pleegkinders met hul biologiese ouers herenig word in terme van die Kinderwet, Wet 74 van 1983. Die literatuurstudie het eerstens gefokus op die proses en prosedure van statutêre verwydering van kinders binne die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks van die Kinderwet nr 74 van 1983. Statutêre verwydering is ondersoek om ʼn beter begrip te ontwikkel van die omstandighede waar statutere verwydering toelaatbaar is met verwysing na die Kinderwet, Wet 74 van 1983. Die literatuurstudie het ook die rol van die maatskaplike werkers in pleegsorg en rekonstruksie dienslewering ingesluit om ʼn beter begrip te verkry van die omstandighede waarin maatskaplike werkers besluite moet neem tydens die plasing van kinders in pleegsorg. Die literatuurstudie het ook gefokus op die rol van maatskaplike werkers tydens pleegsorg en rekonstruksie dienslewering ten einde ʼn beter begrip te ontwikkel van die dienste wat maatskaplike werkers bied aan pleegouers, biologiese ouers en pleegkinders tydens pleegsorg. Die literatuurstudie het ook die rol van die maatskaplike werker in die lewering van pleegsorg en rekonstrukise dienslewering vanuit n maatskaplike ontwikkeling en sterkte perspektief verken ten einde ʼn beter begrip te ontwikkel van die beginsels vir intervensie soos bepaal in die Witskrif vir Welsyn (Departement van Welsyn en Bevolkings ontwikkeling, 1997) en die Geïntegreerde Diensleweringsmodel (2004). Daar is besluit om 21 maatskaplike werkers wat rekonstruksie dienste tydens pleegsorg lewer aan sowel kinders as hul ouers wat van die Strand, Stellenbosch, Somerset-Wes, Kuilsrivier en die Departement van Maatskaplike Dienste in die Paarl afkomstig is, by die studie te betrek. Die resultate van hierdie ondersoek het tot ʼn groot mate die bevindinge van die literatuurstudie bevestig, naamlik dat ʼn hoë persentasie van kinders verwyder word van hulle ouers se sorg. Hierdie biologiese kinders benodig rekonstruksie dienste gelewer deur maatskaplike werkers werksaam in kinder-en gesinsorgorganisasies in Suid-Afrika. Maatskaplike werkers tans werksaam in Suid-Afrika het egter nie genoeg hulpbronne, tyd of die voldoende aantal maatskaplike werkers om effektiewe rekonstruksie dienste te lewer in ʼn poging om die terugkeer van kinders na hul biologiese ouers vol te hou en aan te moedig nie. Die resultate van die studie het dus ʼn aanduiding gegee van maatskaplike werkers se vermoë om rekonstruksie dienste vir pleegkinders en hul biologiese ouers te lewer: maatskaplike werkers se werklading moet verlig word om hulle in staat te stel om meer terapeutiese dienste te lewer in pleegsorg; die regering behoort maatskaplike werkorganisasies finansieël te ondersteun, wat die waarskynlikheid van welsynsorganisasies om meer maatskaplike werkers in diens te neem verhoog, en dus tot ʼn toename sal lei in die persentasie van maatskaplike werkers wat rekonstruksie dienste lewer; maatskaplike werkers behoort deur samewerking met ander welsynsorganisasies die beskikbaarheid en effektiwiteit van hulpbronne soos kennis en vaardighede tydens rekonstruksie-dienslewering aan kinders in pleegsorg en hul biolgiese ou Die aanbevelings het gefokus op dienste wat verband hou met assessering, voorkoming en intervensie met hierdie kwesbare kinders in pleegsorg en hul biologiese ouers. Die aanbevelings sluit in dat vêrdere navorsing gedoen word ten einde die fokus te plaas op spesifieke rekonstruksie- dienste wat die waarskynlikhied van pleegkinders se terugkeer na hul ouers sal verhoog. Dit hou die moontlikheid in dat die hoë persentasie pleegkinders wat vir langer as die beperkte tydperk van twee jaar in pleegsorg bly, verlaag sal word.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/21435
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