Title page for ETD etd-07272010-160748

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Duvenhage, Maryke
Email duvenhage02@telkomsa.net
URN etd-07272010-160748
Document Title Exploring the experiences of volunteer care workers facilitating an intervention programme with vulnerable pre-school children
Degree MEd
Department Educational Psychology
Advisor Name Title
Dr R Ferreira Supervisor
  • volunteer care workers
  • resilience
  • pre-school children
  • Kgolo-Mmogo project
  • intervention programme
  • facilitation
  • experience
  • vulnerable pre-school children
Date 2010-04-29
Availability unrestricted

The purpose of this study was to explore and describe the experiences of three volunteer care workers in their role as facilitators of an intervention programme aimed at strengthening the resilience of pre-school children. The study forms part of a broad research project, the Kgolo-Mmogo project, involving a multidisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Pretoria and Yale University in the United States of America. One of the objectives of the project is to investigate the possibility of strengthening the resilience, as well as the adaptive functioning of children affected by HIV and AIDS. These children are living in poor urban communities in South Africa and their vulnerability is related to their mothers being infected with HIV.

The conceptual framework for my study was based on existing theory relating to care workers, focussing on their responsibilities and experiences, and the process of facilitation. In addition I explored the concepts ‘resilience’ and ‘vulnerable children’. I followed a qualitative research approach, guided by an interpretivist epistemology. I employed an instrumental case study design and conveniently selected three volunteer care workers fulfilling the role of facilitators in the Kgolo-Mmogo project, as participants. These volunteer care workers were responsible for facilitating an intervention programme with a small group of 3 to 5-year old children. I observed five of the intervention sessions, which were presented by the participating volunteer care workers. I conducted a focus group discussion with the participants in order to explore their experiences as facilitators of the intervention programme. I furthermore conducted a follow-up focus group discussion with the purpose of member checking. In addition, I relied on a reflective journal, field notes and audio-visual methods, for data collection and documentation purposes.

Four main themes emerged as a result of the thematic data analysis and interpretation that I completed. Firstly, I found that the foreseen scenario of the facilitation of an intervention programme differed from the real scenario of what such a role would entail. The role of facilitators of an intervention programme implied more than what the volunteer care workers had anticipated and implied diverse responsibilities. Secondly, from my results I concluded that the participants encountered a variety of positive experiences, including experiences of being meaningful and self-development, as well as feelings of pride, excitement and joy. Thirdly, the participants encountered some challenges in their role as facilitators of an intervention programme. They were required to deal with negative emotions, handle conflict more effectively, become more flexible, and deal with stress appropriately. The last theme that emerged relates to the participants experience of the importance of continuous support. This was offered by means of training and a structured manual, regular debriefing sessions by the volunteer care workers’ supervisor and the research coordinator, as well as support by colleagues.

Based on the findings of my study, I concluded that the experiences of the volunteer care workers facilitating the intervention programme with young vulnerable children were diverse and multifaceted. As such, the role of facilitator implied multiple responsibilities, and led to the experience of a variety of benefits and challenges. In addition, my study highlights the value of continuous support in order to assist volunteer care workers to successfully facilitate intervention programmes they present. Furthermore, in dealing with the challenges they faced, the volunteer care workers in my study developed valuable skills that could be applied during future facilitation tasks, as well as in their personal lives. As such, their involvement as facilitators in the Kgolo-Mmogo project seemed to have contributed to their professional and personal development.

Copyright © 2009, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Duvenhage, M 2009, Exploring the experiences of volunteer care workers facilitating an intervention programme with vulnerable pre-school children, MEd dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-07272010-160748/ >


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