Edited by Mono Chakrabarti and Malcolm Hill
ISBN 1 85302 687 5
Anyone who has visited a children's home or secure unit will
know that family relationships, however difficult, are of huge
importance to the lives of children who live in these settings.
Based on papers first presented an international conference held
in Glasgow in 1996, this book examines ways in which children's
family and peer relationships can be strengthened and developed -
either to prevent entry into the care system, or while the child is
living in residential accommodation. Although many encouraging
changes have taken place in this area of practice, there is plenty
of scope for further improvement.
The opening two chapters provide an overview of current trends
in residential care and an examination of the theoretical issues
regarding the relationship between families and a child in
Subsequent chapters offer research findings and descriptions of
related areas of practice in Scotland, Australia, Canada, Israel
and the US.
To the extent that western and English-speaking nations
predominate it might be questioned whether the book is
"international", although the common trends in child care in most
of these countries does make for easier comparison and the exchange
of practice messages. There are good descriptions of the different
policy and practice contexts in which these issues are being
addressed, thus permitting some assessment of which elements might
be applied to other settings.
Specific issues covered include work with reconstituted
families, the role of siblings and processes of reunification. The
consideration of significant relationships beyond the child's
parents is useful.
While a number of alternative theoretical approaches are
described, common to all chapters is the recognition that while
family and peer relationships may be strained and in some cases
contact will be very limited indeed, ultimately those relationships
will prove more enduring than most of those formed in the
Although the importance of family relationships has increasingly
been recognised in research and practice, the literature on
residential child care often focuses on the residential
institution. This book provides a refreshing contrast.
Isabelle Brodie is research fellow, department of applied social
studies, University of Luton and is co-author of Children's Homes
Revisited (Jessica Kingsley, 1998)