Residential child care is a crucial, though relatively neglected area of social work. And yet, revelations of abuse and questions of effectiveness have led to increasingly regulatory and procedural approaches to practice and heightened political and professional scrutiny. This book provides a broad and critical look at the ideas and policy developments that have shaped the direction of the sector.
The book sets present-day policy and practice within historical, policy and organisational context. The author applies a critical gaze to attempts to improve practice through regulation and, fundamentally, challenges how residential child care is conceptualised. He argues that it needs to move beyond dominant discourses of protection, rights and outcomes to embrace those of care and upbringing. The importance of the personal relationship in helping children to grow and develop is highlighted. Other traditions of practice such as the European concept of social pedagogy are also explored to more accurately reflect the task of residential child care.
The book will be of interest to practitioners in residential child care, social workers and students on social work and social care courses. It should be required reading for social work managers and will also be of interest to policy makers and students of social policy, education and childhood studies.
"This is a highly recommended book for every level of Child and Youth Care practice. The author comes alive as a passionate, believable CYC professional who explains and decontructs our field in a way that will help all of us build new knowledge". Jack Phelan in Relational Child and Youth Care Practice
"....this is a welcome, engaging and challenging text: passionate and incisive about its subject in such a way that, even where the reader does not agree, it gives rise to new insights." Robin Sen in Child and Family Social Work Journal
"This is, without question, one of the best books I have ever read on residential care. It is a thoughtful, reflective and practical presentation which will help us all be better at what we do." Thom Garfat, Editor, CYC-Net
"Comprehensive and critical, yet hopeful about the possibilities, this book is for workers who care for disadvantaged children in any setting, and for thinkers who want to understand what is happening to the child care system and why." Ian Milligan, Assistant Director (Education), Scottish Institute for Residential Child Care
Mark Smith is a Lecturer in Social Work in the School of Social and Political Studies at the University of Edinburgh. He worked in residential child care settings for almost 20 years. He was previously a lecturer at the University of Strathclyde, where he developed the MSc in Advanced Residential Child Care. He has published across a range of issues related to residential child care.
The context of care; History; Inquiries and their impact; Trends and policy directions; Theorising residential child care; The residential environment; Assessment, care planning and programming; Working at the boundaries: the personal and professional relationship; Residential childcare in a continuum of care; Other traditions of practice; Conclusion: rethinking residential child care.