What future for voluntary children's residential providers in Ireland?

Power, Martin and Power, David (2022) What future for voluntary children's residential providers in Ireland? Scottish Journal of Residential Child Care, 21 (1). ISSN 2976-9353

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In Ireland, voluntary provision of children's residential services has a history that predates the foundation of the Irish State. Voluntary providers have thus endured regardless of wars, economic crises, social upheavals, scandals, pandemics, and many other changes. However, the current climate is arguably challenging voluntary providers to their core. Only just being kept afloat by State funding, they are operating against the backdrop of a hollowing out of the third sector, within a mixed economy of provision that is increasingly being dominated by private providers. Moreover, they are, and have been, chronically and comparatively underfunded for many years, and staff are understandably demoralised by the scant progress on pay restoration in line with their counterparts. To compound matters further, the impending regulation of social care workers and proposed inspection regime changes are likely to only increase demands on both providers and staff. This paper is a collaboration between a director of a voluntary children's residential provider and an academic in social care. It uses the director’s experiences as a lens to explore and explain the drivers and challenges voluntary residential providers face, and to ask if there is a future for voluntary residential children's providers in Ireland.

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