The experiences of social workers in the provision of reconstruction services to HIV infected children.
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Abdool Karim (Daily News, 02 December 2009) aptly states that one of the daunting social development challenges facing our young democracy in South Africa is the HIV and AIDS pandemic which has seriously impacted on the increase of HIV infected children. The study explored the experiences of social workers in the provision of reconstruction services to HIV infected children. This research study used a qualitative descriptive methodology. There were two sample groups: one consisted of five social workers from five institutions and the second consisted of six social workers from two child welfare organizations. Data was collected by means of semi-structured in- depth interviews with the institutional social workers. One focus group was held with child welfare social workers for the purpose of enhancing the reliability, validity and trustworthiness of the study. Globalization has had a substantial impact on social work services which has been further articulated through ‘new managerialism’, whereby welfare states are becoming cost effective businesses (Dominelli, 2002). Both welfare agencies and social workers pursuant to “new managerialism” have to justify their existence on a day to day basis due to the market principles that have been applied to the profession; it has to be ‘economically sound’ to be a social worker and to continue to be employed. The findings show that there were five key themes and various sub-themes that emerged from the in-depth interviews and the focus group interviews that posed as challenges for social workers. The lack of resources, high staff turnover, the recruitment of foster families emerged as factors that contributed to the challenges experienced by both institutional and child welfare social workers. Despite the many constraints placed on social workers several initiatives have been taken by institutional and child welfare social workers in the implementation of various services and programmes provided to families, communities and children infected or affected by the HIV and AIDS pandemic. In the face of “new managerialism” it is recommended that social workers need to accept that structural forces such as the economy, political, poverty and unemployment have a profound impact on organizations therefore it is necessary for social workers to advocate and lobby for adequate resources such as vehicles, access to telephones and computers and regular supervision, in the provision of reconstruction services. Furthermore social workers must have an updated knowledge regarding relevant policies and legislation that impact service delivery. The Department of Social Development should work in collaboration with the Department of Health and Education so that efforts could be made to ensure that HIV infected children continue with schooling, thereby developing them into more independent individuals. Finally an additional subsidy should be provided by the National Department of Social Development to institutions for services to accommodate family and prospective foster parents who stay over at institutions.