In working with children in South African Child and Youth Care Centres (CYCCs) it is apparent that there is a strong reliance on caregivers to promote not only the daily needs of these children, but also their psychosocial and developmental needs (Greyvenstein, 2010). Cluver, Operario & Gardener (2009) note that this role is often complicated due to trauma experienced by children prior to being placed in a CYCC. Literature further suggests that events that have occurred over the past 21 years have impacted the experiences of caregivers. Meintjes, Moses, Berry and Mampane (2007) look to the HIV epidemic as influencing not only the amount of children requiring care in CYCCs, but also the type of care required from caregivers. Alongside this, the country s transformation into a democratic and globally competitive state has created some challenges for the people of South Africa (UNICEF, 2010). It is argued that this period of transition has seen increased poverty and violence. These difficulties have impacted children who now require alternative placement in CYCCs. It must also be considered that South Africa s has altered legislation and policies regarding children in need of alternative care. South Africa s policy making has largely been in line with international trends. Prominent amongst these trends is a movement away from registered and residential care. While this movement has received great impetus, it is noted by Meintjes et al., (2007) that insufficient research has been performed to verify these claims. This study thus sought to gain in-depth, personal encounters from caregivers whom had been practising throughout South Africa s time of transition.
The findings suggest that while caregivers expressed similar experiences, they seem to vary in their perspectives of it. Many caregivers experienced an increasingly negative attitude in children. Some attribute this to the cessation of corporal punishment and children s increased awareness of their rights. All the participants recognised that they had seen an increase in children of colour being admitted to CYCCs over the past 21 years. For some this has brought about new and exciting dynamics within their homes, and others this change has been challenging. The HIV epidemic has not impacted all caregivers equally. Some participants acknowledged the impact of HIV and the positive contribution of antiretroviral treatment; others had not had any encounters with the disease. Lastly, all participants had recognised changes in policies and reflected on how this affected the daily running of their CYCCs.
These findings have elicited important questions as to the impact of characteristics such as gender, ethnicity and personality on caregiving. This research also highlights the need for further exploration to be done to evaluate what the ideal caregiving practices look like in CYCCs in South Africa today.
Mini Dissertation (MA)--University of Pretoria, 2016.