Childhood trauma continues to be a silent epidemic in South Africa. Institutional childcare centres do not have sufficient funding or resources to render daily therapeutic services for abandoned children. The first line of professional care for these children encompasses their daily interactions and relationships formed with the centre caregivers. This article advances a greater understanding of the views, perceptions and experiences of caregivers caring for abandoned infants and toddlers living in institutional care, on the basis of information obtained from 15 participants interviewed through semi-structured interviews in this qualitative study. Understanding their views, perceptions and experiences provides vital information to develop social work practices.