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Reflecting on the past : children's services workers' experiences of residential care in Scotland from 1960-1975

Shaw, Julie and Kendrick, Andrew (2016) Reflecting on the past : children's services workers' experiences of residential care in Scotland from 1960-1975. British Journal of Social Work. ISSN 0045-3102

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    While contemporary responses to the issue of historic child abuse in the Scottish context have tended to focus upon the experiences of former residents of institutional care, it is clear that much can also be learned from the narratives of former child-care workers. This article draws upon the findings of a recent project, the overall aim of which was to explore children's services' workers experiences of residential care in Scotland from 1960-75. Using an oral history methodology, in-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with twenty-three individuals who had experience of working in, or in connection with, residential child care services, followed by thematic analysis of the data. Results highlighted a range of both positive and negative experiences, and many of the issues still have a contemporary resonance. While we should guard against complaisance and be continually vigilant to safeguard and protect children, we should not allow a focus on risk-averse practice to obscure the merits of the more positive and nurturing elements of earlier residential childcare work.