There’s a documentary worth watching on Channel 4 tonight at 7.30. ‘Bring Back the Orphanages’ by Phil Frampton is far from misty-eyed, but makes a strong case for residential care:
Frampton chronicled a life of neglect and desolation in that home – along with the best efforts of a well-meaning matron – in his memoir, Golly in the Cupboard. Yet he argues, in a Channel 4 programme to be broadcast on Friday, that the modern emphasis on foster care for nearly 90% of looked-after children is misguided. “This place gave us stability,” he says. “We stayed in the same schools, so our education wasn’t disrupted. It meant we learnt to care for each other, to respect each other, even to love one another. Sibling families were catered for, so that brothers and sisters didn’t have to be split up.”
This splitting of families is barbaric. What could be worse for a child who has been taken into care – particularly after bereavement – than to lose their whole family? When you consider that many children move around a series of temporary homes, separated from brothers and sisters, for the rest of their childhood, it’s hardly surprising that they have what is euphemistically described as ‘poor outcomes’. While a residential home is not right for every child, they should at least have the choice.
As Frampton pointed out in Community Care recently:
Thousands of young people in care are forced to endure 20-plus moves. They lose their friends, their schooling and their self-esteem.
Sibling families, after they are comfortably placed in traditional residential homes, are nowadays also expected to suffer the trauma of being split up. A recent survey carried out by charity A National Voice found that more than 75 per cent of young people in care reported difficulty seeing their siblings.