Psychosocial Support Provision for Learners from Child-Headed Households in Five Public Schools in South Africa

Siphokazi Kwatubana & Mashuda Ebrahim - Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal


In South African schools, the umbrella term orphans and vulnerable children includes child-headed households (CHHs). In the light of trauma exposure of learners from CHHs due to their plight, there is a need to investigate how they are supported. This research investigated the psychosocial-support provision for learners from CHHs in five public high schools in South Africa. This was a qualitative study using a phenomenological design. A stratified sampling method was used to gather data from principals, co-ordinators of health programmes and teachers with the highest number of learners from CHHs in their classes in 2014 or 2015. Findings are reported from the analysis of data gathered by means of semi-structured interviews and document analysis through the lens of trauma-informed approach. The highest number of learners from CHHs in the participating schools were in Grades 10 to 12 and the percentage ranged between 0.6 to 2.5 in 2014 and 2015. The programme of informal adoption of learners by teachers seemed to be working well, better than other programmes that were implemented by government departments. The results of this study highlight the importance of implementing trauma-informed approach in supporting learners from CHHs.