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Weighing Up the Evidence and Local Experience of Residential Care

  • Susan Tregeagle (a1) (a2)

Abstract

Therapeutic residential care is currently seen as an answer to managing the increasing disruption experienced by many young people in care. Yet the history of residential care in Australia is problematic and the international evidence for the efficacy of therapeutic approaches is very poor. The author's own agency's experience of providing residential care also indicates that caution is needed before increasing the numbers of residential ‘beds’. Problems include young people's dislike of residential options and the stressfulness of an environment that involves shift workers and multiple transient relationships. Further, residential care can be a financial drain on child welfare budgets (being tendered to non-government agencies at over seven times the cost of community care), and has the potential danger – when beds are empty – of being used for young people who do not need this level of care. Residential care may appear to be the only option for a handful of adolescents no longer suited to foster care; but before developing therapeutic residential care further, government must be able to guarantee, at a minimum: a safe environment, a nurturing and healing environment, continuity of care, and the capacity to meet young people's developmental and permanency needs. These standards must be met, not just now, but over the long term.

Copyright

Corresponding author

address for correspondence: Susan Tregeagle, Barnardos Australia. E-mail: suetreg@barnardos.org.au

References

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Keywords

Weighing Up the Evidence and Local Experience of Residential Care

  • Susan Tregeagle (a1) (a2)

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