Residential care for children will always be an indispensable part of the range of services that will be required for children who come into public care. As corporate parent, government will need to provide residential care for those children who cannot be brought up by their birth families and for whom foster care or adoption is not a viable option. Residential care may also be required for children who are in need of a secure and structured environment or intense therapy, and for children who are refugees from other countries.
It is customary for residential homes run by government to be administered by the Department of Social Services, as this is usually the agency that has responsibility for providing services for children and families. This department will need to monitor the implementation of policies, guidance and procedures within the home. It is recommended that a separate body be established to inspect the homes and to check whether the standards are being met.
Recommendation has already been made for the establishment of a National Child Protection Committee to oversee all child protection work - (National Standards for Child Protection, standard 1.18). The role of this committee in relation to children residential services is referred to in Standards 18.2 and 18.7 of this document.
Government will need to enact appropriate legislation and develop policies and guidelines for residential services for children if these are not already in place. A practice manual directing the day to day running of the home must be closely linked to these.
These standards also apply to residential homes that are run by voluntary or other non-governmental organisations.
©NCH Action for Children