Highly Vulnerable Children Research Center

Factors associated with retention intentions among Isibindi child and youth care workers in South Africa: results from a national survey

Background: Child and youth care workers (CYCWs) are a crucial and growing component of South Africa’s national response to HIV and AIDS and other issues affecting children and families. CYCWs use the community-centred Isibindi model of care to reach the most vulnerable with key services including psychosocial, health, economic and education support. Like others in similar professions, they may be at risk for occupational challenges affecting retention.

Methods: This study uses data from the first nationally representative survey of CYCWs in South Africa to identify factors associated with workers’ retention intentions. Data were collected in 2015 as part of a formative evaluation conducted around the mid-point of a nationwide Isibindi programme expansion. A total of 1158 CYCWs from 78 sites participated. The response rate for the sample was 87%. Questions addressed demographics, work history, retention intentions, training, mentorship and supervision experiences, workload and remuneration. Mixed effects regression models with random intercepts for project site and mentor were used to estimate factors associated with retention intentions.

Results: High-quality mentorship and frequent supervision support retention intentions among CYCWs. Respondents who indicated that wanting to help children or the community was their primary motivator for seeking work as a CYCW were also more likely to report intending to continue working as a CYCW. High perceived workloads and feeling threatened or unsafe on the job were negatively associated with retention intentions. As CYCWs gained experience, they were also less likely to intend to stay.

Conclusions: Understanding the factors affecting retention in the CYCW workforce is vital to helping vulnerable children and families across South Africa access key social and health services. Findings highlight the importance of mentoring and supervision as part of the Isibindi model and the value of support for manageable workloads, workplace safety, and career advancement opportunities for promoting worker retention.

Citation: Thurman, T. R., Taylor, T. M., Nice, J., Luckett, B., Taylor, M. & Kvalsvig, J. D. (2018).  Factors associated with retention intentions among Isibindi child and youth care workers in South Africa: results from a national survey Human Resources for Health,16(1).

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