n Commonwealth Youth and Development - Psycho-social needs of children in child-headed households in South Africa

Volume 11, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1727-7140



The phenomenon of child-headed households is complex and has profound implications for the well-being of the child. Such households disrupt family and community functioning and affect the rearing and development of the child, leaving them destitute. A quantitative and qualitative study was conducted to analyse the situation of child-headed households in South Africa. This article is based on one of the objectives, namely to explore and describe the psycho-social needs of children living in these households. Semi-structured interviews and focus group interviews were conducted. The findings were based on the needs to survive, to be accepted and to be able to break the cycle of poverty, marginalisation and stigmatisation. Orphaned children do not want to be separated from their siblings. Their most urgent needs relate to clothes, food, money, shelter and education. Extended families have been eroded and in many instances have no capacity to cope with more than their own survival. It is important that the different grants in terms of purpose, eligibility, accessibility, long-term sustainability, monitoring and strategies to address the consequences when eligibility for grants expire, be reviewed. Networks and communities of support are necessary to ensure psychological and social security and safety for children in child-headed households.

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