Residential care centers during the Covid-19 Pandemic: A survey of 13 countries – members of FICE-International

Emmanuel Grupper, Shachar Shuman - FICE Israel


Out-of-home care, especially treatment residential care programs (TRC) are often described in the media, and even in some professional studies, as obsolete social structures (Consensus Statement, 2014). Residential care settings are out-of-home facilities such as educational youth villages and educational, therapeutic, or rehabilitation residential treatment centers (Grupper, 2013). Their aim is to provide education, treatment, rehabilitation or protection for children and youth, including those at risk and others, to protect these young people and work toward making a positive change, one that would allow them successfully reintegrate into the community (Aharoni, 2018). Therapeutic residential care is "A structured, multidimensional living environment designed to promote or provide care, education, socialization and protection for children and youth with identified mental health or behavioral needs. The boarding school will be in partnership with families and in collaboration with a wide range of formal and informal professional factors” (Whittaker et al., 2016). Out-of-home care includes such settings and arrangements as foster care, group homes, various models of family group-home living together with biological family of staff (Assouline & Attar-Schwartz, 2020).

Deinstitutionalization began in Europe after the 1989 Declaration on the Rights of the Child and was followed by the 2009 UN guidelines for alternative care (United Nations, 1989, 2009). The move resulted in the closing down of many large residential care facilities, reforming the system to smaller family-type institutions, at the same time building greater negative stigma against any kind of institutional care (Eurochild, 2016). However, residential care facilities and their staff members, may remember the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic as “their finest hour.” . The lockdowns declared by many governments created a situation where caregivers and children were locked together in the residential facilities, and had to make the most of this great challenge that was imposed upon them.

FICE Israel decided to initiate a short survey to document and share information about the way different countries handled their policies and practices in residential care facilities during that period. As of this writing (June 2020), 13 countries have responded. This report presents findings and some conclusions from this primary survey.