The utilisation of support groups for non-biological caregivers of children with FASD

Breytenbach, Bianca (2015-04)

Thesis (M Social Work)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Non-biological caregivers often take children into their care when their own biological caregivers have failed to provide them with a safe and loving home. These children are often also affected with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Learning of a child’s disability can be a big shock to non-biological caregivers especially if it is misunderstood, available professional help is scarce and intervention resources are not readily available. These non-biological caregivers are often not prepared for the financial, emotional and physical investment that is required to fully support the children and their development. This can cause various emotional reactions and implications that are challenging for the caregivers. It is critical to recognise parenting experiences and challenges as a means of developing and promoting intervention strategies and support that will respond to the needs of the children with FASD and their non-biological caregivers especially from a South African perspective. There is a need for social workers to take on responsibility for addressing FASD as they have the professional capacity to help families living with FASD to develop and maintain stable and nurturing households. One way in which this can be achieved is through the initiation and facilitation of support groups. The goal of the study was to gain an understanding on the experiences of non-biological caregivers of children with FASD and of the utilisation of support groups to help them cope better. The researcher made use of a combination of an exploratory and descriptive research design. By using both a quantitative and qualitative approach in a complimentary manner, the researcher was able to gain an in depth insight into the lives of the non-biological caregivers and how they experience this disability and support groups that are utilised as a means of helping them cope. Permission to conduct the study was granted by the committee for Human Research at the University of Stellenbosch. The literature study firstly investigated the implication of FASD on affected children. Secondly, the extents to which non-biological caregivers are affected by the consequences of this disability were discussed. After this the utilisation of support groups as a method of supporting non-biological caregivers, with the emphasis on a mutual-aid and educational approach as theoretical underpinning was described. The empirical study was completed with 16 participants through face-to-face, semi-structured interviews. An interview schedule based on the findings of the literature study was utilised. The criteria for inclusion were that participants had to have attended at least 5 support group sessions and had to be a non-biological caregiver of FASD children who had attended the support groups specifically related to this disorder. The results of this study mostly confirmed the findings from the literature study which showed that support groups play a vital role in providing necessary support to non-biological caregivers who are often unprepared for the realities of caring for a FASD child. Recommendations are aimed at the social work profession in South Africa who need to align itself in providing necessary support to non-biological caregivers through the use of support groups and various other methods of service rendering. Suggestions for future research are also made in line with how non-biological caregivers can be supported in their unique caregiver responsibilities.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Nie-biologiese versorgers neem dikwels kinders in hul sorg wanneer kinders se biologiese ouers versuim om vir hulle ‘n veilige en liefdevolle huis en omgewing te skep. Hierdie kinders kan ook ly aan of geaffekteer word deur Fetale Alkohol Spektrum Versteuring (FASV). Dit kan ‘n groot skok wees wanneer versorgers uitvind dat die kind geaffekteer is daardeur, veral as hierdie versteuring misverstaan word. Professionele hulp is skaars, en intervensies en hulpbronne is nie vryelik beskikbaar nie. Versorgers is dikwels nie voorbereid op die finansiële, emosionele en fisiese eise wat nodig is om ten volle die kind se ontwikkeling te ondersteun nie. Dit kan dit lei tot verskillende emosionele reaksies met verskeie gevolge wat opsigself ook verskeie uitdagings vir die nie- biologiese versorgers veroorsaak. Dit is van kritieke belang om die ervarings en uitdagings van ouerskap te verken in die bevordering en ontwikkeling van intervensiestrategieë ter ondersteuning van die behoeftes van die kinders met FASV en hul versorgers, veral vanuit ‘n Suid-Afrikaanse perspektief. Daar word vereis van maatskaplike werkers om verantwoordelikheid te neem vir die aanspreek van FASV, aangesien hulle die professionele kapasiteit het om families wat geaffekteer is te help, en om hulle by te staan sodat ‘n stabiele en koesterende huishouding ontwikkel en volgehou kan word. Een manier waarop dit bereik kan word, is deur die vestiging en fasilitering van ondersteuningsgroepe. Die doel van hierdie studie was om ‘n begrip te ontwikkel oor die ervarings van nie-biologiese versorgers van kinders met FASV se benutting van ondersteuningsgroepe. Die navorser het gebruik gemaak van ‘n kombinasie van ‘n verkennende en beskrywende navorsing. Deur die gebruik van beide ʼn kwantitatiewe en kwalitatiewe benadering, is die navorser in staat gestel om ‘n indiepte insig in die lewens van die versorgers te bekom, en ondersoek in te stel oor hul ervarings van die versteuring/gestremdheid deur ondersteuningsgroepe wat as intervensie aangewend is. Toestemming om die studie te doen is deur die Etiese Komitee vir Menslike Navorsing aan die Universiteit van Stellenbosch bekom. Eerstens is die literatuurstudie voltooi waarin die navorser ondersoek ingestel het oor die implikasies van FASV op geaffekteerde kinders. Tweedens is daar bespreek hoe nie-biologiese versorgers geraak word deur die gevolge van hierdie versteuring/gestremdheid. Daarna is ondersteuningsgroepe as ‘n metode van ondersteuning aan versorgers ondersoek, en klem is gelê op ‘n wedersydse hulpbenadering en ‘n opvoedkundige benadering as teoretiese grondslag. Die empiriese studie is voltooi met 16 deelnemers deur middel van individuele, een-tot-een, semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude. ‘n Onderhoudskedule, wat gebaseer is op die bevindinge van die literatuurstudie, is gebruik. Die kriteria vir deelname aan die studie en groep het ingesluit dat deelnemers ten minste vyf sessies van ‘n ondersteuningsgroep moes bywoon en ook ‘n pleegouer wees van ‘n FASV kind. Die resultate van hierdie studie het meestal die bevindinge uit die literatuurstudie bevestig en het getoon dat ondersteuningsgroepe ‘n belangrike rol speel in ondersteuning aan nie-biologiese versorgers, wat dikwels onvoorbereid is op die werklike problematiek van die versorging van ‘n kind met FASV. Aanbevelings word gerig aan die maatskaplikewerk-professie in Suid-Afrika, ten einde ondersteuningsgroepe en ander metodes van dienslewering te bied, ter ondersteuning aan die versorgers van FASV kinders. Voorstelle vir verdere navorsing word ook gemaak sodat daar ‘n ondersteuningsnetwerk opgebou kan word vir die versorgers van ‘n FASV kind ten einde aan hulle unieke versorgingsbehoeftes te voorsien.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/96934
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