Residential care as an alternative care option : a review of literature within a global context

Giraldi, Miriana and Mitchell, Fiona and Porter, Robert Benjamin and Reed, Douglas and Jans, Valérie and McIver, Leanne and Manole, Mihaela and McTier, Alexander (2022) Residential care as an alternative care option : a review of literature within a global context. Child & Family Social Work, 27 (4). pp. 825-837. ISSN 1365-2206 (

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While there is unequivocal agreement on the need to support families and to avoid all unnecessary separation, there are ongoing debates across policy and practitioner communities nationally and internationally, around the place of residential care within the range of alternative care services which should be available to children who need them. This paper presents the findings of a review of evidence looking at the function, quality, and outcomes of residential care based on 111 papers identified for inclusion using systematic searches. The review identifies definitional ambiguity in the use of the terms 'residentia' and 'institutional' care in the literature, which alongside the different cultural, social, and economic contexts, makes generalising challenging. However, we found insufficient evidence to substantiate claims that residential care is inherently unsuitable. We identify research gaps in the literature, including in relation to quality, children's perspectives, and factors that impact upon the suitability of residential care for different children, before discussing implications of the findings for research, policy, and practice.


Giraldi, Miriana ORCID logoORCID:, Mitchell, Fiona ORCID logoORCID:, Porter, Robert Benjamin ORCID logoORCID:, Reed, Douglas, Jans, Valérie, McIver, Leanne ORCID logoORCID:, Manole, Mihaela ORCID logoORCID: and McTier, Alexander ORCID logoORCID:;