Masters Thesis

Perspectives on the challenges for professionals in working to help street children to reintegrate in India

The rise of children living and/or working on the streets has become a global phenomenon following the increased industrialization and urbanization of our times. Despite the best efforts of helpers globally, many street children return to the streets. The perspective exists for some that street children “challenge and sabotage all efforts to help them.” The purpose of this qualitative study with a locality-based case study approach is to examine the lived experiences of the helpers of street children in India in order to gain insight into how to best serve this population. The research question is “What are the challenges for professionals in working to help street children to reintegrate in India?” 12 participants were obtained through mostly purposeful sampling. In-depth interviews utilizing open-ended questions were conducted. NVivo software was used for content analysis with instrumental and collective case study paradigms. Multiple investigators were consulted and member checking was done to improve the validity of the findings. From a list of 62 subthemes emerged six overarching themes: Organizational Limitations; Street Children’s Education; Government Policy; Societal Perceptions; Psychologically and Emotionally Demanding Work; and Interpersonal Hurdles. The findings were considered in light of this study’s theoretical frameworks: The Capability Approach and Anti-Oppressive Social Work Practice. An evaluation of helpers’ work to empower and promote the capabilities, agency, participation, and autonomy of street children was completed.

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