What makes a care setting or a particular care placement 'suitable'? (Part 1)
All children have a right to the best possible alternative care placement we can provide. While acknowledging this can be a challenge in many circumstances, the requirements we are about to consider have been laid out in international guidance as being important for all children, including children living in their own country and unaccompanied and separated children.
A suitable care setting responds to the specific needs and circumstances of a child, in an environment that promotes their best interests and helps them realise their full and harmonious development. A child in a suitable placement feels genuinely cared for, trusted, and protected, and is able to experience some form of bond with their carer - even if only for a short while.
Let us remind ourselves of some of the attributes a suitable care setting should have. It should:
- Be able to respond to children’s individual needs and circumstances in a caring environment - as for example determined by a Care and Protection Assessment and Plan
- Ensure access to specialist services, especially health, psychosocial support, special education needs, legal procedures etc.
- Ensure stability, security, and support for children
- Ensure the protection of children from all forms of violence, abuse, exploitation, and neglect
- Work to secure positive results and sustainable solutions for children including their social, physical, and emotional development
- Ensure that children have access to all necessary services - especially health care and education
- Appropriately meet a child’s needs concerning, for example, nutrition, hygiene, clothing, warmth, shelter, recreation and privacy
- Recruit and retain appropriately qualified and motivated staff in sufficient numbers to provide children with individual care. If providing family-based care such as foster care, there should be carefully selected and trained carers
- Enable children to maintain contact with the outside world and interact in the local community - meaning that they are not kept in a ‘closed’ facility that prevents children interacting outside with local society, other children, school, leisure activities, etc.
The child-friendly approach which we discussed in Week 3 is also very relevant for the way in which children are supported by their carers.