• Felistas Nhedzi UNISA
  • Mankwane Makofane UNISA



This paper discusses the experiences of twelve social workers as providers of family preservation services. The sample was selected through purposive and snowball sampling. Data were collected through face-to-face semi-structured interviews, which yielded rich information on a host of challenges experienced by social workers. Some of the challenges entail the parents’ reluctance to participate in family preservation services, their unwillingness to care for their children, non-adherence to intervention plans, protection of perpetrators of child abuse by family members, traditional practices, lack of resources and low salaries. These challenges have an adverse effect on the morale and wellbeing of social workers


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Felistas Nhedzi, UNISA

Department of Social Work


Mankwane Makofane, UNISA

Professor, Department of social Work

University of South Africa


ANDERSON, K.M. 2013. Assessing strengths: identifying acts of resistance to violence and oppression. In: SALEEBEY, D. (ed) The strengths perspective in social work practice (6th ed). Boston: Pearson.

BAK, M. 2004. Can developmental social welfare change an unfair world?: the South African experience. International Social Work, 47(1):81-94.

BAILEY, D.B., RASPA, M. & FOX, L.C. 2012. What is the future of family outcomes and family-centered services? Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 31(4):216-223.

BERRY, M. 2005. Overview of family preservation. In: MALLON, G.P. & HESS P.M. (eds) Child Welfare for the twenty-first century: a handbook of practices, policies, and program. New York: Columbia University Press.

BIRKENMAIER, J., BERG-WEGER, M. & DEWEES, M. 2011. The practice of generalist social work (2nd ed). New York: Routledge.

BYWATER, J. 2008. Working effectively with children and families in safeguarding the children arena. In: O’LOUNGHLIN, M. & O’LOUNGLIN, S. (eds) Transforming social work practice: social work with children and families (2nd ed). Exeter: Learning Matters Limited.

CASH, S.J. 2008. Family preservation services. In: COADY, N. & LEHMAN, P. (eds) Theoretical perspectives for direct social work practice: a generalist-eclectic approach (2nd ed). New York: Springer Publishing Company.

CASH, S.J. & BERRY, M. 2003. The impact of family preservation services on child and family well-being. Journal of Social Services Research, 29(3):1-26.

CITY OF EKURHULENI.2013. Ekurhuleni Annual Report 2012/13. [Online] Available: [Rev. 02/02/2014.

COCK, L. 2008. Transformational challenges facing contemporary social work: an exploratory study. Pretoria: University of South Africa. (MA dissertation)

COLLINS, D., JORDAN, C. & COLEMAN, H. 2010. An introduction to family social work (3rd ed). Belmont: Brooks/Cole.

COLLINS, D., JORDAN, C. & COLEMAN, H. 2007. An introduction to family social work (2nd ed). Belmont: Brooks/Cole.

COLLINS, S. 2008. Statutory social workers: stress, job satisfaction, coping, social support and individual difference. British Journal of Social Work, 38:1173-1193.

COULSHED, V. & ORME, J. 2012. Social work practice (5th ed). Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

CRESWELL, J.W. 2009. Research design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (3rd ed). London: Sage Publications.

CROSSON-TOWER, C. 2009. Exploring child welfare: a practice perspective (5th ed). Boston: Pearson Education.

DAVIDS, N. 2012. Funding crisis for NPOs. The Times, 14 May, 6.

DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT NATIONAL STRATEGIC PLAN. 2013. Ministry for the Department of Social Development. Pretoria: Republic of South Africa. Unpublished Paper.

DLANGAMANDLA, V.P. 2010. The experiences of social workers regarding the implementation of a developmental social welfare approach within the Department of Social Development Gauteng Province. Pretoria: University of Pretoria. (MA dissertation)

DOWNS, S.W., MOORE, E., McFADDEN, E.J., MICHAUD, S.M. & COSTIN, L.B. 2004. Child welfare and family services: policies and practice (7th ed). Boston: Pearson Education.

DURRHEIM, K. 2006. Research design. In: TERRE BLANCHE, M., DURRHEIM, K. & PAINTER, D. (eds) Research in practice: applied methods for social sciences. Cape Town: UCT Press.

EARLE, N. 2008a. Social work as a scarce and critical profession: scarce & critical skills research project. Research Commissioned by the Department of Labour South Africa.

EARLE, N. 2008b. Social work in social change: the profession and education of social workers in South Africa. Cape Town: HSRC Press.

EKURHULENI WELFARE, SOCIAL SERVICES AND DEVELOPMENT FORUM. 2012a. Monthly forum meeting. 26 March. Benoni.


E-TV. 2012. Seven o’clock news. [SABC TV programme]. 19 April.

GANDARILLA, A.H. 2009. Family preservation: a content analysis of literature. Long Beach: California State University. (M dissertation)

GRAY, M. & LOMBARD, A. 2008. The post-1994 transformation of social work in South Africa. The International Journal of Social Welfare, 17:132-145.

GREEN PAPER ON FAMILIES: PROMOTING FAMILY LIFE AND STRENGTHENING FAMILIES IN SOUTH AFRICA. 2011. Ministry for the Department of Social Development. Government Gazette, Vol. 3, No. 34657 (3 October). Pretoria: Government Printer.

GROCKEL, A., RUSSELL, M. & HARRIS, B. 2008. Recreating family: parents identify worker-client relationships as paramount in family preservation programs. Child Welfare Journal, 87(6):91-113.

HALL, K. 2013. Income poverty, unemployment and social grants. In: BERRY, L., BIERSTEKER, L. DAWES, A., LAKE, L. & SMITH, C. (eds) South African child gauge 2013. University of Cape Town: Children’s Institute, 90-94.

HENNINK, M., HUTTER, I. & BAILEY, A. 2011. Qualitative research methods. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.

HOLLAND, S. 2011. Child & family assessment in social work practice (2nd ed). Los Angeles: Sage Publications.

INTEGRATED SERVICE DELIVERY MODEL. 2006. Ministry for the Department of Social Development. Pretoria: Department of Social Development.

JANZEN, C., HARRIS, O., JORDAN, C. & FRANKLIN, C. 2006. Family treatment: evidence-based practice with populations at risk (4th ed). Australia: Thomson Brooks/Cole.

JONES, F. & MORRIS, M. 2007. Working with sexual abuse: a systemic perspective on whether children need to tell their therapist details of the abuse for healing to take place. Journal of Family Therapy, 29:222-237.

KRANE, J., DAVIS, L., CALTON, R. & MULCAHY, M. 2010. The clock starts now: feminism, mothering and attachment theory in child protection practice. In: FEATHERSTONE, B., HOOPER, C.A., SCOURFIELD, J. & TAYLOR, J. (eds) Gender and child welfare in society. London: Wiley Blackwell.

LANDMAN, L. & LOMBARD, A. 2006. Integration of community development and statutory social work services within the developmental approach. Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk, 42:1-15.

LAW, M., HANNA, S., KING, G., HURLEY, P., KING, S., KERTOY, M. & ROSENBAUM, P. 2003. Factors affecting family-centred service delivery for children with disabilities. Child: Care, Health & Development, 29(5):357-366.

MADSEN, W.C. 2009. Collaborative helping: a practice framework for family-centered services. Family Process, 48(1):103-116.

MACCIO, E.M., SKIBA, D., DOUECK, H.J., RANDOLPH, K.A., WESTON, E.A. & ANDERSON, L.E. 2003. Social workers perceptions on family preservation programs. Family Preservation Journal, 7:1-18.

MANUAL ON FAMILY PRESERVATION SERVICES. 2010. Ministry for Department of Social Development. 2010. Pretoria: Department of Social Development.

MARSHALL, C. & ROSSMAN, G.B. 2011. Designing qualitative research (5th ed). Los Angeles: Sage Publications.

MASHIGO, B.P. 2007. Social workers’ experiences on the transformation of social welfare from remedial approach to developmental approach. Port Elizabeth: Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. (MA dissertation)

MATTHIAS, C.R. & ZAAL, F.N. 2009. Supporting familial and community care for children: legislative reform and implementation challenges in South Africa. International Journal of Social Welfare, 18:291-298.


MONETTE, D.R., SULLIVAN, T.J. & DEJONG, C.R. 2008. Applied social research: a tool for the human services (8th ed). London: Thompson Brooks/Cole.

PATEL, L. 2005. Social welfare and social development in South Africa. Cape Town: Oxford University Press.

PATEL, L., SCHMID, J. & HOCHFELD, T. 2012. Transforming social work services in South Africa: perspectives of NPO managers. Administration in Social Work, 36:212-230.

PISTORIUS, K.D., FEINAUER, L.L., HARPER, J.M., STAHMANN, R.F. & MILLER, R.B. 2008. Working with sexually abused children. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 36:181-195.

POPPLE, P.R. & LEIGHNINGER, L. 2008. The policy based profession: an introduction to social welfare policy analysis for social workers (4th ed). Boston: Pearson Education.

RAVESTIJN, S. 2001. Inanda family preservation project, Inanda, Durban. Mission Report. [Online] Available: pdf . [Rev: 18/06/2012].

RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION STRATEGY FOR SOCIAL WORKERS IN SOUTH AFRICA. 2006. Ministry for the Department of Social Development. Pretoria: Department of Social Development.

REPETTI, R.L., TAYLOR, S.E. & SEEMAN, T.E. 2002. Risky families: family social environments and the mental and physical health of offspring. Psychological Bulletin, 128(2):330-336.

REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA. 2006. Children’s Act (Act No. 38) of 2005. Government Gazette, Vol. 492 No. 28944, (19 June).

ROYSE, D. 2008. Research methods in social work (5th ed). Australia: Thomson Brooks/Cole.

RUBIN, A. & BABBIE, E. 2010. Essential research methods for social work (2nd ed). Belmont: Brooks/Cole.

RYCUS, J.S. & HUGHES, R.C. 2008. Assessing risk throughout the life of a child welfare case. In: LINDSEY, D. & SHLONSKY, A. (eds) Child welfare research: advances for practice and policy. New York: Oxford Scholarship.

SALEEBEY, D. 2013. Introduction: power in the people. In: SALEEBEY, D. (ed) The strengths perspective in social work practice (6th ed). Boston: Pearson, 1-23.

SANDOVAL. C. 2010. Children’s social workers’ experiences and perceptions on the family preservation program. Long Beach: California State University. (M dissertation)

SEWPAUL, V. & HÖLSCHER, D. 2007. Against the odds: community-based interventions for children in difficult circumstances in post-apartheid South Africa. In: DOMINELLI, L. (ed) Revitalising communities in a globalising world. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Limited.

SITHOLE, S. 2010. Marginalisation of social workers in South Africa: some reflections from a feminist perspective. The Social Work Practitioner-Researcher, 22(1):6-19.

SOUTH AFRICAN INSTITUTE OF RACE RELATIONS. 2011. First steps to healing the South African family. Johannesburg: South African Institute of Race Relations.

STATISTICS SOUTH AFRICA. 2012. Census 2011 Municipal Report Gauteng. Pretoria: Statistics South Africa.

STRYDOM, M. 2010. The implementation of family preservation services: perspectives of social workers at NGOs. Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk, 46(2):192-208.

SWART, H. 2012. A broken system cannot fix the broken people. Mail & Guardian, June 28:24.

TULLY, L. 2008. Family preservation services: literature review. Research Report. Ashfield NSW: Centre for Parenting and Research Services System Development.

VAN HEUGTEN, K. 2011. Social workers under pressure: how to overcome stress, fatigue and burnout in the work place. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN IN SOUTH AFRICA. 2012. Ministry for the Department of Social Development. Pretoria: Department of Social Development.

WALKER, J. & CRAWFORD, K. 2010. Transforming social work practice: social work and human development. Exeter: Learning Matters.

WHITE PAPER ON FAMILIES IN SOUTH AFRICA. 2012. Ministry for the Department of Social Development. Pretoria: Government Printer.

WHITE PAPER FOR SOCIAL WELFARE: PRINCIPLES, GUIDELINES, RECOMMENDATIONS, PROPOSED POLICIES AND PROGRAMMES FOR DEVELOPMENTAL SOCIAL WELFARE IN SOUTH AFRICA. 1997. Ministry for the Department of Welfare. 1997. Government Gazette, Vol. 386, No. 18166 (8 August). Pretoria: Government Printer.

YEGIDIS, B.L. & WEINBACH, R.W. 2002. Research methods for social workers (4th ed). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

ZASTROW, C. 2008. Introduction to social work and social welfare: empowering people (9th ed). United States: Thomson Brooks/Cole.




How to Cite