An explorative study of the experiences of social workers in providing therapeutic services to children in child and youth care centres in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
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Child and youth care centres (CYCCs) should be applauded for accommodating and providing services for vulnerable children who need care and protection in South Africa. The residential and statutory social workers work together in providing services to restore the well-being of the children placed in CYCCs as mandated by the Children’s Act (Children’s Act, 2005). Section 155 and 158 of the Act orders the investigation of the circumstances of children and their placement into CYCCs, whilst section 156 and 159 of the Act mandates the social workers to supervise and offer reunification services to these children (Children’s Act, 2005). Residential social workers work to restore the well-being of the children placed under their care in child and youth care centres through providing counselling, therapy and facilitating different programmes. It is therefore important to acknowledge the importance of the provision of therapeutic services by these social workers. This qualitative study explored the experiences of social workers in providing therapeutic services to vulnerable children who are placed in CYCCs. The sample consisted of 15 participants and semi-structured interviews were used to collect data. The social support and general systems theory were the two theoretical approaches that informed this study, whilst social constructivism was the key conceptual framework. Four key themes distilled from the interviews with each group of social workers. The results revealed that statutory and residential social workers were not cooperating with each other in the provision of services. The statutory social workers failed to provide adequate assessment, supervision and reunification services due to lack of skills, high caseloads, lack of resources and resistance in communities. Residential social workers found behavioural and sexual abuse cases difficult to address due to lack of skills. This study concluded that the Department of social development should provide capacity building for social workers to improve their skills, resources and establish strong supervisory and monitoring strategies to improve cooperation between the social workers. The Department of social development should also review the preventative strategies imbedded in the Integrated services delivery model (ISDM).