Obstacles to the Professionalisation of Residential Child Care Work

David Williams, Clanóg Residential Unit, Dublin
Kevin Lalor, Dublin Institute of Technology

Document Type Article

Irish Journal of Applied Social Studies, 2(3), 73-90.


This paper outlines the historical development of residential child care in Ireland and describes how these developments have shaped the role of the residential child care worker today. The residential child care task is found to be complex and challenging, requiring extensive knowledge and skills of trained professionals. The status of residential child care workers today is examined and we ask if residential child care work should be recognised as a profession. It is proposed that there are four key issues which must be addressed if residential child care work in particular, and social care work in general, is to achieve professional status on a par with other child protection workers; the multiplicity of job titles, pay and status, education and training and registration. The discussion is complemented by the results of a series of focus groups recently held with twenty residential child care workers.