The Way in Which Child and Youth Care Workers in South Africa Cope with Psychosocial Challenges




psychosocial challenges, coping strategies, child and youth care, child and youth care workers, emotional well-being


Child and youth care workers deal with the psychosocial challenges experienced by young people in their care and may as a result themselves experience stress, anxiety and depression. This paper explores the psychosocial challenges experienced by child and youth care workers in South Africa, and the coping strategies that they apply. A collective case study design within a qualitative approach was used. Purposive sampling was used, with the sample consisting of 93 participants from government and non-governmental organisations based in rural, semi-urban and urban areas across the six provinces of South Africa. An interview schedule was designed to collect qualitative data from 11 focus group interviews. Data analysis was divided into data reduction, data display, and drawing and verifying conclusions. Psychosocial challenges identified by the participants were the inability to disengage from the work environment, disengagement from social activities, personal trauma, invasion of personal boundaries, and emotional well-being issues. The following broad coping strategies were identified: non-existent coping mechanisms, personal missions, substance abuse, withdrawal, and thoughts of quitting. Child and youth care workers experience a range of psychosocial challenges but have established a range of mostly adequate and contextually relevant coping strategies. The paper recommends that child and youth care workers find a healthy balance between their personal and professional life, timeously seek psychosocial support, and keep on developing themselves to acquire skills that will enhance their practice and broaden their scope of practice.


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Author Biography

Lesiba Phineas Molepo, University of South Africa

Regional Services, North Eastern Region

Deputy Director: Academic and ICT Support




How to Cite

Molepo, Lesiba Phineas. 2020. “The Way in Which Child and Youth Care Workers in South Africa Cope With Psychosocial Challenges”. Southern African Journal of Social Work and Social Development 32 (2):17 pages.



Received 2019-02-11
Accepted 2020-03-31
Published 2020-07-14