Residential Childcare – It Doesn’t Have to be For Ever

I have been heartened by recent conversations inside and out of Parliament in which the idea of residential childcare as ‘a last resort’ is being challenged. I entirely agree that it can be the best and preferred option for some children.
I do not agree with the current prevalent situation where once in residential care you stay there until you become a care leaver. I have been shocked by the assumption that children as young at eight years are already ‘un-fosterable’, not just for now, but for the rest of their childhood.

Children who have been traumatised by abuse, loss and neglect may not be able to live in a family, be that their own family or a foster family. They may need therapeutic help to access the early years’ experiences they have missed. They often need time and support to develop emotionally and socially to a stage where they can accept and be accepted by a family.

We should, however, put all our efforts and strength into helping those that can return to their families or foster families and day schools. This may, controversially, be one area where the comprehensive spending review supports good practice. It is possible, indeed likely, that if children get the right help before they reach teenage years they can experience family love and life and mainstream education.

I am attaching some case studies from research at Appletree Treatment Centre which illustrate the type of support which can make such a difference. I would be interested to hear the thoughts of others on this matter.

Clair Davies is Principal at Appletree. She has spent the last twenty years working with children and young people with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. She graduated from Cambridge University in 1989 and began working with young people in a secondary residential special school. She subsequently studied for her Masters in Special Education and spent a period researching in America before returning to England and helping to establish Appletree in 1995. [email protected]

The Attachment

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