From our research and practice experience we know the grim realities in which designated (child protection) social workers are expected to do their work. Our research and experience reveals several risk factors that place these specific social workers at risk for burnout, compassion fatigue, poor service delivery, and high attrition rates.
We consider it a privilege to offer a small contribution toward addressing this problem by creating a website that will hopefully offer you a safe space (“cave”) where you can learn and reflect before you return to the “wild” which is the practice field. This website will evolve with time as we receive your input, to make sure that it is always relevant, supportive and helpful.
We decided on “the cave” because we truly believe that the work you do and the places in which you do your work represents the “wild”, in other words it is rough and tough, and not always easy to survive. The “cave” then, represents a place (this website) where you can come to just rest for a while and learn something or reflect on new insights or developments so that when you return to the 'wild', you are a bit stronger and wiser.
We do not claim to know everything but we want to try and help you so that you can do your best in protecting the children of our communities. With the launch of The Cave we acknowledge the value of your work and salute you for fighting the good fight.
Thank you for getting up each day even though you might feel exhausted and feel like quitting. We hope to be of some support to you.
Elmien Truter (PhD) is a registered social worker and a senior lecturer in social work in the School of Psychosocial Health, at the North-West University’s Vaal Triangle Campus. She has several years of experience as a designated (child protection) social worker and is still in practice part time handling cases of child abuse and neglect for an NGO. Her research interest pertains to child abuse, improving child protection systems, exploring and addressing the adversities in which child protection social workers must work, and understanding and promoting their resilience.
Ansie Fouché (PhD) is a registered social worker and full professor in social work in the School of Psychosocial Health, at the North-West University’s Vaal Triangle Campus. She is rated researcher with the NRF and programme leader of the Strengths-based interventions sub-programme within the Optentia Research Focus Area. Her research interests include: child sexual abuse; forensic social work; pre-trial therapy; resilience; posttraumatic growth and strengths-based interventions. Prior to joining Academia in 2009 she worked for 15 years as a social worker specializing in Forensic assessment of allegations of child sexual abuse.