Kinship Care for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Ethiopia: A Mixed Methods Study of Caregiver Coping
Desta, Meseret K.
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The purpose of this study was to explore and describe the stressors experienced by kin caregivers in Ethiopia and the available social support that helps them cope with stressors and sustain their caregiving role. Guided by the stress coping conceptual framework and social support as a buffering hypothesis, the study generated quantitative and qualitative data using a concurrent mixed methods crossectional design. Findings from the quantitative analyses suggest that kin caregiver scores on coping were not different based on their blood or non-blood relationship with the children in their care. Significant differences in coping were found by age group in that older caregivers scored higher on the coping scale than younger caregivers. A significant positive association was found between kin caregivers’ social support and coping. Social support predicted coping but stress did not. Social support did not moderate the relationship between stress and coping. Qualitative findings reveal that living arrangement patterns, parents’ inability to care for their own children because of HIV/AIDS, family expectations, and prior relationships with deceased neighbors were pathways that led kin caregivers to assume the caregiving role. Lack of choice either to accept or decline the caregiving responsibility, and the opportunity to rear children were identified as major motivations for assuming the caregiving role. Kin caregivers currently receiving support from formal sources indicated that the support was inadequate, irregular and lacked consistency. Kin caregivers identified the lack of food and habitable housing as major stressors. Caregivers of HIV positive children reported that the child’s health and their inability to disclose the child’s HIV status and orphan status and children’s loss and grief were sources of stress. Although kin caregivers reported that they use a variety of coping strategies, praying was described as the most vital. The majority of kin caregivers used positive attitude and appraisal processes in response to stressors associated with their kin caregiving role. These findings provide insight into the caregiving process for orphans and vulnerable children in Ethiopia and have profound implications for future research, theory development, social work practice, social policy, and social work education.
Orphans and vulnerable children
Pathways and motivation
Stress, and Coping