The Valley Trust Youth Caregiver Program
The initial intervention focused on training older youth to provide HIV education, homework assistance and psychosocial support to orphans and vulnerable children aged 11--15 years. The program aimed to increase HIV related knowledge, improve HIV communication skills and decrease stigmatizing attitudes among participants. After comprehensive studies of these services in 2005, 2006 and 2007 (by Horizons Project and Khulisa Management Services) the Valley Trust expanded its OVC program to also provide vocational training and nutritional support, as well as shelter, care and child protection interventions. The program has developed linkages with other Valley Trust programs and community organizations to provide direct health and legal services to orphans and vulnerable children in the program.
- Encourage youth to care for OVC
- Provide care and support for OVC to integrate into their communities
- HIV/AIDS education: Child right's education
- Homework assistance: Recreational activities
- Theater and musical activities: Psychosocial support
- Community outreach: Vocational training and nutritional support
- Shelter, care, and child protection interventions: Linkages to provide direct health and legal services
- Trained volunteer youth caregivers operating in a school-based setting can reach children who are orphaned and rendered vulnerable by their household and community circumstances. The education and support that they provide likely contributes to improvements in HIV-related knowledge, attitudes, and communication among program participants.
- School-based HIV education and support programs are a good way to reach orphans and vulnerable children in communities where there are barriers to home and community-based efforts.
- HIV prevention messages must be consistent, clear, and age appropriate. Programs that utilize the ABC HIV prevention strategy should go beyond the provision of ABC messages and include contextually specific skills-building activities to address the barriers to the ABC behaviors.
- Ongoing monitoring of and follow-up trainings for youth caregivers is necessary to equip them with the information and skills that they need to address the specific and diverse needs of the children in their communities. At the same time, the range of care and support needs that can be met by trained youth volunteer caregivers in a school-based setting are limited.
- Developing partnerships and linkages with other programs and services in the community is essential in order to address the children's more acute needs that youth caregivers cannot manage.
- Programs must identify ways to retain and motivate youth caregivers. Providing caregivers with financial remuneration may encourage caregivers to maintain pride and respect in their work and reduce attrition rates. In the absence of financial incentives, providing caregivers with food parcels or goods such as shoes or t-shirts/ uniforms could be a way to incentivize volunteer caregiver participation.
- The Population Council
- Horizons Project; Johns Hopkins Health and Education South Africa.
- Adolescents (ages 13-17)
- Children (ages 2-12)