Residential Childcare: Between Home and Family

Residential Childcare: Between Home and Family

Residential Childcare: Between Home and Family

Residential Childcare: Between Home and Family

Synopsis

Government statistics show that around 1,700 Scottish children and young people are in residential care at any one point in time. In addition several hundred others, including those with significant learning, physical and communication disabilities, receive regular periods of respite care in residential units. Residential child care has also been the focus of a considered amount of government policy-making. There have been changes in the average size and location of residential units, changes in staffing structures and repeated attempts to better train the workforce. Residential care has also been the focus of considerable regulation and scrutiny, much of it in response to scandals associated with abuse; both contemporary and 'historic'. Scotland's residential care services are strongly supported by central government policy and the government continues to play a major role, particularly for the most disadvantaged or 'troubled and troublesome' children. The sector is noteworthy in that Scotland does not have a separate juvenile justice 'detention' sector and it only has a tiny in-patient child and adolescent mental health service. Another notable characteristic of the Scottish children's homes sector is that a significant number remain under local authority control. Meanwhile there has been a steady decline in voluntary sector provision and a steady growth, from a low base, of private provision. This is the first dedicated study of the Scottish children's residential care sector. Throughout appropriate comparisons are made to parallel provision elsewhere in the UK and in Europe. The result is a text of great interest and utility to all those working, training to work or formulating practice and policy for the children's residential care sector in Scotland.

Excerpt

The aim of this book is to provide an overview of residential child care in Scotland. It is not a practice manual and it does not attempt to give advice on direct work with children. It sets out to provide an account of the place of residential care for children ‘looked after’ by the state in contemporary Scotland. the book is written from the perspectives of the authors, both currently in academic posts, but both with considerable experience of direct contact with looked after children and care leavers. Its omissions and idiosyncrasies are our responsibility, but we acknowledge the influence of colleagues and young people who have willingly opened up to us about their experiences. Residential Child Care: Between Home and Family has no particular theoretical stance, but we hope that it has been influenced by two important values. One is the need to have high aspirations for children in public care, and the belief that those who have the privilege of influencing them deserve respect and encouragement. the second is the importance of hearing the voice of the looked after child. This is not to say that adults should always do what children want, but listening to children who are hurting is fundamental to the healing process.

Most children who are looked after by local authorities live in family-type settings, with either one or both parents, with other relatives or with foster carers. Despite the decline in the use of residential placements, group living settings continue to be important, positive care options, particularly for older children. Residential care epitomises public perceptions of the care system, and yet few members of the general population will have had direct experience of care settings. They may even express hostility to the presence of residential units near to where they live. Residential settings are most visible when things go wrong – absconding, damage to property, the abuse or even deaths of children while in care – and the . . .

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