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Residential care for children and young people : priority areas for change

Davidson, Jennifer C. (2010) Residential care for children and young people : priority areas for change. Child Abuse Review, 19 (6). pp. 405-422. ISSN 0952-9136

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Abuse in residential childcare has been of concern to the public and the profession for a number of years. This article highlights a Scottish Institute for Residential Child Care's (SIRCC) response to the Scottish Government which was requested following allegations of abuse in Glasgow City Council's Kerelaw residential school and secure unit. It offers priority actions to address the challenges of residential childcare and ensure the safety of children and young people as far as is practicably possible. It contextualises the residential childcare task, and explores four interrelated areas in which change is strongly recommended: (1) organisations' cultures; (2) workforce challenges including the status of the sector, staff selection standards, the role of residential childcare workers in relation to their level of autonomy and their education levels; (3) abuse allegations, in particular the sector's growing fearfulness of false allegations, support for practitioners' anonymity when accused of abuse and a reconsideration of criminal record certificate information; and (4) service delivery related to behaviour management and advocacy support. The intersection between the SIRCC and the subsequent Kerelaw Inquiry reports is outlined. Finally, it concludes with a scan of the immediate strategic policy horizon which indicates an unprecedented momentum for change. While based in the Scottish context, it reflects lessons which are applicable internationally.