Towards the establishment of practice standards for South African school social work: a mixed-method study with special reference to the Free State Province
Vergottini, Elizabeth Maria
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Background: Although school social work has been practised in South Africa since the 1980s, employment levels have, until fairly recently, remained relatively low. A marked increase in new appointments, particularly since 2010, brought a number of questions to the fore. Foremost of these were: What exactly do all the role-players within the educational system expect from the new appointees? And: What roles and responsibilities should school social workers in the South African education system fulfil in order to deliver an effective and appropriate service? A review of available South African literature failed to provide adequate answers. This was mainly due to a scarcity of publications within this field in the post-1994-era and the resultant lack of an indigenous, relevant and comprehensive body of knowledge. In order to find the answers, the researcher undertook a comprehensive research project by means of which greater clarity would be sought with regard to the roles and responsibilities of local school social workers. The findings were then used in the compilation and verification of a set of practice standards for local school social work. Aim: The primary aim of the research was to produce a set of practice standards applicable for use as a basis for the conceptualisation and improvement of school social work services in South Africa. Method: The research utilised a sequential mixed-method design, coupled with elements of a case study. In order to validate the practice standards document, which was the culmination of the earlier research process steps, the Delphi technique was applied. Results: The research produced a set of valid practice standards for use as a basis for the further conceptualisation and improvement of school social work services in South Africa in general and the Free State Province in particular. A number of recommendations were made, demonstrating ways in which practice standards and other research results could be utilised in the further development of this field of specialisation in respect of social work.
- Health Sciences