The impact of residential placement on child development

Research and policy implications

Ronald Thompson, Michael Little, 2005, International Journal of Social Welfare

Conclusion (Extract)

“As has been said, a preparedness to adopt the most rigorous methodologies appropriate for the task of understanding the impact of residence on child development is critical. The old fashioned approach of starting with a question, developing a hypothesis and finding a method to test the hypothesis has much to commend it in a world where partisan policy makers look for researchers with methods that might support their cause. Policymakers need to suspend their ideas about the merits or dangers of residential care, and researchers should resist participation in projects that have the sole mission of providing ammunition for those who are for or against residence. Too many researchers, ourselves included, have been drawn into contexts where our evidence is being used as ammunition for those who are ‘for’ or ‘against’ residence.

 18In addition, better examination of the epidemiology of service use could lead to a more rational allocation of children to services. As has been seen, data on usage is appallingly poor. It is bad enough that little is known about how much provision is available in each sector but even more handicapping is not knowing how many children experience a residential sojourn, why the placement became necessary, how long it lasts (and whether it recurs) and why it comes to an end. Too much of the data on the size and nature of the sector can be described as speculation. Finally, there are obligations on researchers. We too have to change. More multi-disciplinary work is required, with a readiness to move beyond our obvious collaborators. This paper speaks to the sociological, historical, psychological, educational and social policy dimensions of residential services for children yet there is nowhere in the world where multi-disciplinary teams covering these domains work with any certainty. Moreover, there are few settings with any track record in connecting science and policy for the sector. As has been said, a preparedness to adopt the most rigorous methodologies appropriate for the task of understanding the impact of residence on child development is critical. The old fashioned approach of starting with a question, developing a hypothesis and finding a method to test the hypothesis has much to commend it in a world where partisan policy makers look for researchers with methods that might support their cause. Policymakers need to suspend their ideas about the merits or dangers of residential care, and researchers should resist participation in projects that have the sole mission of providing ammunition for those who are for or against residence. Too many researchers, ourselves included, have been drawn into contexts where our evidence is being used as ammunition for those who are ‘for’ or ‘against’ residence.

Generally speaking, the call of this paper is for less ideology and more science alongside building expertise to apply research to policy and practice. The alternative, of basing decisions on ideological position is not sustainable in the long-term and will eventually fall foul of ethical scrutiny that demands that we ‘first do no harm’ and second that we seek equality of provision so that residential services that are proven to meet identified needs are offered to all who can benefit.”

Read the Paper in full. It may have been written in 2005 but…

This Paper

Source: https://www.academia.edu/resource/work/22047852

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: