Recruitment, retention and professionalisation in residential childcare in Ireland

Power, Martin (2022) Recruitment, retention and professionalisation in residential childcare in Ireland. Scottish Journal of Residential Child Care, 21 (2). ISSN 2976-9353

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Residential childcare workers have been at the vanguard of the development of the professionalisation of social care work in Ireland, and in late 2023 a register for social care workers is finally expected to open. Over two decades ago, Williams and Lalor (2001) highlighted the lack of statutory registration as one of the main obstacles to professionalisation, alongside obstacles such as the recruitment of unqualified staff, pay and status concerns, and a lack of clarity around job titles and roles. Moreover, they expressed concern about a short shelf-life for residential childcare workers, arguing that many did not perceive it as a long-term career option. In the intervening years, much has changed in children's residential care in Ireland and some of those obstacles have been overcome. Nonetheless, others, such as pay and status have proven more stubborn, with clear implications for recruitment and retention. This paper draws on data collected as part of Social Care Ireland's recruitment and retention in social care survey (2019) to examine the professionalisation of children's residential care and suggests that what was an already short shelf-life may have reduced further.

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