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Residential child care : learning from international comparisons

Kendrick, Andrew and Steckley, Laura and McPheat, G.A. (2011) Residential child care : learning from international comparisons. In: Early Professional Development for Social Workers. British Association of Social Workers, Birmingham, pp. 81-87. ISBN 9781861780843

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Over recent years, residential child care has come under increased scrutiny, and there has been marked ambiguity in policy debates about its roles and functions within the range of child welfare services. Considerable concern has been expressed about the institutional abuse identified in countries around the world. Questions have been asked about the effectiveness of residential care in comparison with alternative services. The often difficult experiences of children and young people leaving residential care - particularly those leaving care to independence - have raised questions about policies and practice. The ongoing focus on the importance of the family and family-based care settings has been contrasted with the 'institutional' nature of residential care. These discussions have played out in different ways across the world. It is the aim of this chapter to highlight the main issues to see what lessons can be learnt from comparison with residential care in other countries. The potential scope of this endeavour is huge and we have therefore had to be selective in the examples used, but we hope to contribute to the positive development of residential care.