An exploratory study of the non-kin models of care available to orphans and vulnerable children affected by HIV/AIDS in KwaZulu-Natal.
McCarthy, Ashling Elizabeth.
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Victims of HIV/AIDS are not only those who are infected with the disease, but also those who are affected by it; such as the children of infected parents and relatives, and indeed, all children living in communities in which the disease has reached epidemic proportions. As the number of orphaned and vulnerable children continues to rise unabated in South Africa the question remains as to who will look after these children once their parents, and relatives, have died. Research shows that the extended family continues to be the first line of support for such children; however, the dissolution of the extended family, due to HIV/AIDS, is also widely documented. The aim of this study is to explore two non-kin models of care which are available to orphaned and vulnerable children in KwaZulu-Natal; a transition home and a cluster foster home. The two organisations chosen for the study cater for children who are at different stages of childhood; one caters specifically for babies and toddlers, while the other caters for children and young adults between the ages of five and the early twenties. Both organisations emerged as a response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic which is profoundly evident in the areas in which the organisations are situated. The theory of social rupture thesis is utilised as it asserts that the extended family is reaching breaking point in terms of absorbing orphaned and vulnerable children, and therefore that it is slowly losing its ability to act as the first line of support against the disease. Based on the research and findings of this study, this hypothesis was found to be true, as was evident in the large (and increasing) numbers of children who can be found living in non-kin models of care around South Africa. An interesting phenomenon which was documented in both organisations was the re-emergence of the father figure in the home setting. South Africa is a country where the majority of children grow up without a traditional father figure and these two homes expressly include men in the lives of the children in order to highlight what they consider to be the necessary role of men within a family setting. This study explores the central themes which emerged during the research; that of the impact of shifting care-givers on the development of children, as well as the many socio-cultural issues which foster parents face while raising foster children.