This is an epic book about child and youth work, in residential care and beyond. The title is somewhat misleading, as the author explores and offers great insights into child and youth work that transcends the Irish context. A bonus is the story (the first chapter in the book) written by a former youth in care with whom the author worked, and it demonstrates in convincing fashion the developmental and therapeutic power of the author’s approach to working with young people. I found this book both informative and inspiring, and I highly recommend it for all students and practitioners – experienced or inexperienced. Professor James Anglin, Canada
Social carers and social workers are ever more subject to supposed certainties couched in jargon -“outcomes”, “key performance indicators”, “sophisticated risk assessments”, “regulation”, “compliance”. These, and other gems of bureaucracy are not absent from Maurice Fenton’s book. However, he has managed to challenge their efficacy and intent by imbuing his findings with a personal narrative that leads to a core concept: many children and young people in care and aftercare as well as those tasked to care for them live “at the edge”. Success and often survival for both groups is dependent on another core concept: the essence of caring is not about commodification but about relationships. Noel Howard: Secretary of Social Care Ireland.
This book is a must-read for anyone who has an interest in the Irish care system. From academics to policy makers, to social workers and care leavers, we all have a responsibility to understand the many aspects of the care system. Maurice’s effort to provide an objective analysis, together with compelling arguments for improvement, make it a compelling read. Wayne Dignam: Chairman Irish Care Leavers Network
Engrossing, informative and challenging. Maurice Fenton has written a book which, although not exactly bedside reading, is surprisingly readable for such an important and serious topic. It is written with a passion by someone immersed in, and committed to, children in care. It examines the child care and aftercare system in Ireland, in the light of international comparisons, examines the myths and misconceptions surrounding them, and poses very challenging, and sometimes disturbing, questions and reflections. It critically examines some of the theories relevant to the development process of children in care and children transitioning to aftercare. It brings together a large amount of data and information regarding children in care and aftercare which will be very useful to those working in, or reflecting on, this area. This book is essential reading for all those with an interest in children in care. Fr Peter McVerry
It is a thoroughly researched, well-argued and very readable book, written by an author who has a vision of a seamless social care service for children, young people and care leavers. The book provides a thorough analysis of the state of social care for children and young people in Ireland now, but readers outside of Ireland will recognise and find relevance in the matters the book raises for it covers in some depth so many of the issues which exercise all those concerned with social care today wherever they may be, including, healthy child development for children in care, children’s rights, children’s and young people’s experience of social care, professionalism, social pedagogy, relationship-based practice, resilience, attachment theory, research issues, policy-making and its concomitant economic and political restraints, among many more. This book should be read by social care practitioners, social care students, social care teachers, managers, policy-makers and politicians. This is a book whose content is relevant far beyond Ireland for it covers in some depth so many of the issues which exercise all those concerned with social care today. Its learning, humanity, comprehensive thoroughness, and emotional insight gives the reader so much. I recommend this book to all involved in the social care of children and young people. Charles Sharpe: Good Enough Caring Journal