The adolescent in a children’s home forms part of the growing number of South African children who through the course of their lives have been exposed to physical, emotional and sexual abuse, malnutrition and neglect. This type of abuse could be the result of lack of parenting skills in the case of parents and carers fuelled by poverty and poor education. Consequently, these adolescents would be described as “in need” and would be eligible for placement in alternative care. Children’s homes fall in the category of alternative care, made available for children “in need”. In terms of the law, a young person is enforced to leave the children’s home at the age of 18. This is accompanied by feelings of fear, uncertainty and denial. These feelings could influence the young person’s adaptation in the community negatively. The emphasis is therefore placed on the role and the responsibility of the social worker to prepare the individual for successful emancipation from the children’s home. Preparing the adolescent optimally for emancipation from the children’s home and in addition to deliver support throughout, may lead to successful adaptation into the community. This particular responsibility should be available to the child throughout his/her life in the children’s home, not just prior to the emancipation process. Social workers should be made aware of different factors that could influence the successful adaptation, for example, social workers might lack knowledge and the focus should be on bridging such shortcomings. This study focused on various contributing factors that influence the success of the adolescents’ adaptation in the community. The aim of the study was to investigate the general adaptation of the adolescent after emancipation from the children’s home. In order to reach the required goal, a number of objectives were formulated. These included the formulation of a theoretical framework of knowledge about the adolescent’s general life around the time of emancipation; the role and responsibilities of the social worker in providing support and optimal preparation of the individual; and the positive and negative factors that contribute to the individual’s success. An empirical study, during which semi-structured interviews were used as a data collecting method, was undertaken to assess the adaptation of the adolescents after emancipation from the children’s home. The following main themes were identified: the current life situation of the adolescent over the age of 18 who lives outside the borders of the children’s home; his/her self-esteem and how this perception of him/herself influences the adaptation process after emancipation; how the adolescents adapt and experience the social environment; their opinion about participation in anti-social behaviour; their feelings about the optimal preparation before and after the process of emancipation and their opinion on specific areas of change to contribute to the optimal preparation of emancipation out of the children’s home. Ten participants took part in individual, semi-structured interviews. Applied research was undertaken as the researcher aimed at establishing solutions for the identified problem area, namely that social workers need more information on the contributing factors that influence the general adaptation process after emancipation. A qualitative approach was used in order to gather qualitative empirical data. To achieve the goal in this study, a phenomenological strategy was applied, as the focus was on the experience, meaning and concept of the individual as regards his/her general adaptation process after emancipation from the children’s home. The research question formulated for this study was: What are the contributing factors that influence the general adaptation process of the adolescent after emancipation from the children’s home? The research findings indicate that the adolescent generally adapts well after emancipation from the children’s home. Most individuals experience their lives as children in a children’s home as positive. This positive feedback could be attributed to the way these individuals have been treated in the children’s home. Their adaptation process depends on the value they attach to their lives in the children’s home. The following aspects was indicated to have a positive influence on the adaptation of the adolescent after leaving the children’s home: - - preparation for life outside the children’s home by social workers - - acceptance by the peer group - - support from social workers during the adolescent’s time in the children’s home and after leaving the children’s home - - facilitation of the adolescent’ s effective handling of his trauma during his stay in the children’s home. - - Spontaneous socialization outside the children’s home - - Supportive contact with family members This study revealed the experience of the adolescents after emancipation from the children’s home, which holds further research possibilities. The necessary information was acquired and could be used in further studies of adolescents in a similar situation.
Dissertation (MSD (Play Therapy))--University of Pretoria, 2006.