Doctoral Degrees (Social Work)

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    A work-life perspective on the subjective wellbeing of social workers
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2022-12) Bredell, Sandra; Engelbrecht, L. K.; Stellenbosch University. Facuty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Social Work.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Social work was declared a scarce skill in South Africa in 2003, as confirmed by the Department of Labour and listed accordingly in the sector skills plan of the Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority in 2008. The profession has since been struggling to survive in the welfare system, which resulted in a challenge to render services to people in need, without enough social workers to do the work. The focus of the Recruitment and Retention Strategy for Social Workers, as mandated by the Minister of Social Development, was to highlight aspects that can have a negative influence on social workers and ultimately on the quality of services rendered to service users. To exacerbate the situation, social workers are facing many challenges in South Africa, such as poor salaries, poor working conditions, insufficient infrastructure, unsafe environments, lack of resources, very high caseloads, and high turnover; to name a few. During the COVID-19 pandemic, an array of situations needed the attention of frontline social workers, who already faced high caseloads and who were expected to push aside their own families’ challenges to render services in often unsafe environments in uncertain times. The aim of this study was to gain an understanding of the subjective wellbeing of social workers from a work-life perspective. Social workers’ wellbeing is important to uphold service delivery of a high quality, while the social workers’ wellbeing and happiness in the profession deserve immediate attention. This study shows the connection between the subjective wellbeing of social workers in both the work and life domains and connect it to the eight dimensions of wellness; in other words, their holistic wellbeing. The conceptual framework of the study synthesises work-life balance and subjective wellbeing with the eight dimensions of wellness, namely emotional, financial, social, spiritual, occupational, physical, intellectual, and environmental dimensions. In this qualitative study, the exploratory and descriptive research designs were deemed appropriate, together with an interpretivist paradigm. It allowed for in-depth exploration of particular issues (work-life perspective and the subjective wellbeing of social workers) that have been studied insufficiently, and developing new ideas on the topic, as well as to connect the information to the eight dimensions of wellness. Non-probability purposive sampling is criterion based and was employed in this study. The participants (11 frontline social workers and 12 supervisors), who contributed in their personal capacity, provided rich and valuable data for the study. The participants were interviewed using a semi-structured interview schedule with open-ended questions. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the interviews were conducted using the Zoom platform. For this study, Tesch’s thematic, descriptive approach was utilised to analyse the data. The findings from the empirical investigation revealed that the social worker participants felt stressed and overworked and that they do not receive adequate supervisory support, other than related to work issues, and they admitted to struggling with work-life balance. The participants echoed that there is a spill over from the work to the family domain and vice versa. Therefore, the challenge is not so much to balance the work roles with the rest of one’s life, but rather to balance the different roles in one’s life. The key recommendations were for social workers to undergo South African Council for Social Service Professions (SACSSP)-accredited courses, that prospective social work students should be screened for the course, that organisations should commit to support their staff, and that wellness programmes and the orientation programme for the first two years of employment of frontline social workers should be registered with the SACSSP for Continuous Professional Development points.
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    The challenges experienced by unemployed youth graduates in Botswana: An ecological systems perspective
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2022-04) Sebidie, Godfrey; Strydom, Marianne; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Social Work.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Education has always been recognised as the means to achieve change, create new ideas, initiate new practices and move towards increasing prosperity. Thus, in many developing countries, tertiary education is increasingly important in facilitating a move into employment as part of an effort to increase prosperity. In Botswana, however, recent evidence suggests that graduates from the country’s tertiary institutions find it difficult to penetrate the labour market. Youth unemployment, especially graduate unemployment, has become a national concern in Botswana. It is normal for young graduates to expect to have a thriving career, yet, when these expectations are not met, unemployed graduates may face challenges in adapting to their situation. To deal with unemployment of youth graduates, the Botswana government established numerous youth intervention initiatives and programmes. However, past and current youth intervention programmes have been unable to mitigate unemployment, resulting in many youth graduates not being employed, some for as long as 10 years. Being unemployed has given rise to Botswana youth graduates having to face many challenges as their unemployed status has influenced their lives in various ways. It was established that, in Botswana, there was no general research or research from a social work perspective on the challenges that unemployed youth graduates were experiencing, which highlighted the possibility of a lack of appropriate services available to unemployed youth graduates. The ecological systems perspective was utilised to illustrate how various factors were interacting on the different systems of the ecological systems theory, as well as how these factors were affecting unemployed youth graduates. The ecological systems perspective was applied as it indicates how people encounter different environments throughout their lives that may influence their behaviour in different ways. A qualitative research approach together with exploratory and descriptive research designs were used to explore the challenges experienced by unemployed youth graduates in Botswana from an ecological systems perspective. Data was gathered through purposive and snowball sampling from the Unemployment Movement of Botswana and programme officers within the Ministry of Youth Empowerment Sport and Culture Development (MYESCD). Individual face-to-face, semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions were executed as data collection instruments. The research project took place in two phases. The first phase involved twenty unemployed youth graduates and the second phase entailed having two focus group discussions with eight programme officers from the MYESCD who had been working with unemployed youth graduates in the second phase. In total 28 participants took part in the study. Seven themes were then extracted from the participant interviews by way of thematic analysis. These themes were then further divided into subthemes and categories. It was found that unemployed youth graduates were experiencing challenges on the micro-, meso- and macro-levels of the ecological perspective. These challenges included psychological issues, for example, loss of self-esteem, sleeping disorders, depression and harbouring thoughts of suicide, physical challenges such as heart problems, headaches, and high blood pressure, as well as financial challenges such as not being able to provide for their loved ones, and being dependent on extended families. It was found that social work services were needed for unemployed youth graduates in order to promote their human dignity and rights. It is recommended that the Botswana government evaluate existing youth intervention government initiatives and programmes to determine the effectiveness thereof. It is also recommended that the government of Botswana should review the National Youth Policy of 2010 in order to adapt it to include and address current challenges experienced by unemployed youth graduates. Finally, it is recommended that needs assessment should be done to come up with programmes that are relevant and applicable to unemployed youth graduates of Botswana and that are not implemented one-size-fits all programmes.
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    Implementation of the supervision framework for the social work profession in South Africa by a designated child protection organisation
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2022-04) Khosa, Priscalia; Engelbrecht, Lambert Karel; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Social Work
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Supervision plays a significant role in social work because social work practice depends largely upon the organisation’s administrative structure, which includes supervisors to continue training new social workers and provide ongoing professional guidance. Despite the predominance of supervision within the social work profession, and the weight placed upon its role and function by policymakers, practitioners, and organisation managers alike, it remains an under-researched area of enquiry when it comes to evidence-informed supervision policies. In South Africa, the Supervision Framework for the Social Work Profession seeks to conceptualise, contextualise, and provide norms and standards that guide the execution of supervision in the country. However, since its inception in 2012, no study has been conducted on how the Supervision Framework is implemented in various organisations. Hence, the aim of this study was to gain an understanding of the stories of social workers in a designated child protection organisation regarding the implementation of the Supervision Framework. Given the knowledge gap and limited voices of social workers, a constructionist theoretical approach guided this study to explore the perspectives and stories of social workers and their supervisors on how the Supervision Framework is implemented in their organisation. This study employed a qualitative research approach. A case study research design that was exploratory and descriptive in nature was adopted in this study. Semi-structured telephonic interviews were conducted with 28 participants employed in a designated child protection organisation in the Western Cape of South Africa. Twenty social workers and 8 supervisors within the organisation were selected through purposive non-probability sampling. Data were analysed through thematic content analysis using ATLAS.ti qualitative data analysis software for coding and management of data. The findings of the study indicate that the case study of the child protection organisation may be regarded as a best practice example of the implementation of the Supervision Framework based on the linear stories of supervisors and frontline social workers. However, what is novel about this study is that it brings together previous findings, theory, policy, and legislation about the implementation of the Supervision Framework in a child protection organisation by further analysing the subtext stories of participants in line with the constructionist approach. Thus, although the organisation under study has thrived in developing a supervision policy and implementing the policy in line with the stipulations of the Supervision Framework, there remains challenges related to the dominance of the administrative function of supervision within the organisation and, in some instances, lack of emotional support. The key recommendation based on the study’s findings is that clinical supervision can be salvaged by introducing innovative ways of conducting supervision, such as peer supervision, to develop a community of supervision practice; by adopting an external supervision model to place the primary focus of supervision on clinical dimensions instead of administrative tasks; and by investigating the potential of online supervision in promoting the accessibility of supervisors.
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    Social work services provided to children with physical disabilities in Lesotho: An ecological perspective
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2021-12) Monne, Retselisitsoe; Slabbert, Ilze; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Social Work.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Children with physical disabilities fall under one of the most vulnerable population groups in the world. They face numerous challenges that prevent them from living normal lives and attaining opportunities to improve their quality of life. Social work services have been known to help them improve their wellbeing and to attain improved livelihoods. These are backed up by relevant policies which, if implemented, can improve the lives of children with disabilities. Social work services can be provided to children with physical disabilities at different ecological levels, namely the micro, meso and macro levels. The study was aimed at gaining an understanding of social work services provided to children with physical disabilities in Lesotho. To this end, the ecological perspective and some disability models were used as theoretical frameworks. The study used a qualitative research approach with some quantitative elements, as well as a combination of descriptive and explorative research designs to achieve the set research questions. Purposive sampling was used to select participants for data collection. Data were collected using telephonic and WhatsApp interviews due to the Covid-19 guidelines, which prevented face to face meetings. Semi-structured interviews were used to collect data from 22 participants. Two focus group discussions were also conducted. The goal of the focus groups was to clarify any aspects of the data that were collected during the interviews, as well as to determine possible solutions. Each focus group consisted of five participants who had also formed part of the semi-structured interviews. The first focus group discussion was with social workers from NGOs and the second with social workers from the public sector. The focus group discussions were conducted via WhatsApp. Data were collected from social workers who have experience in providing social work services to children with physical disabilities in Lesotho. It was collected from 9 districts of Lesotho, which are Qacha’s Nek, Quthing, Mohale’s Hoek, Mafeteng, Maseru, Leribe, Botha-Bothe, Thaba Tseka and Mokhotlong. Empirical data were analysed through content analysis.
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    Essential management competencies of principals at early childhood development centres
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2021-12) Ronaasen, Jessica; Engelbrecht, Lambert Karel; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Social Work.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Early childhood development (ECD) has gained much momentum since the headline policy, the National Integrated Early Childhood Development Policy 2015 (Republic of South Africa [RSA], 2015), was ratified with the mandate to a deliver a comprehensive package of services to children from birth to six years old. ECD centres are not only hubs of education for young children, but also function as small businesses in the communities which they serve. Business skills, leadership, and governance are concepts which are intertwined and necessary for effective management by a principal of an ECD centre. Management competencies are centred upon core leadership values, which are embedded in the supervision and monitoring processes of social workers or ECD managers. A learning organisation approach (LOA), which is recommended in this study for ECD centres, maintains that people can learn the necessary skills and knowledge to function in a managerial role. This study presents empirical findings that showcase the essential management competencies of an ECD principal based on Engelbrecht’s (2014) conceptual framework of management skills, functions, and tasks, which depicts the interaction and complexity of a management role in any given organisation. A fairly ambitious timeframe is mentioned in the ECD Policy (RSA, 2015) that by 2030, all practitioners and principals working with ECD services should have adequate knowledge, skills, infrastructure, and materials to support a comprehensive package of early learning services within an ECD centre. Using a qualitative research approach, this study aimed to gain an understanding of the essential management attributes of ECD principals managing ECD centres in South Africa. A collective case study design was utilised to gain the reflections and lessons learnt from ECD principals and social work managers working in the ECD sector, by conducting semi-structured, telephonic interviews. Non-probability, purposive, and snowball sampling were used to recruit participants. Thematic content analysis was completed by reviewing the data in the transcripts of each interview with the intention of identify managerial competencies in the ECD sector as South Africa’s Department of Social Development (DSD) and the Department of Basic Education DoBE) move forward into a future of possibilities for collaborative learning and development. This study highlights the importance of business planning, mentorship, financial and ECD principal management tasks, the quality of ECD principal management, principal management training programmes, and further policy developments targeting the promotion of ECD principals’ professional development. Conclusions and recommendations towards government departments, non-government organisations (NGOs), and ECD principals themselves are offered to provide practice-relevant evidence for intervention moving forward. Key recommendations include incorporating a learning organisation approach to the support and training of ECD principals and the centres they manage, what the management competencies of ECD principals should be, and the optimal mechanisms needed to support the growth of this role in their organisations.