Therapeutic residential care services in Australia: a description of current service characteristics

Foster care Out-of-home care Therapeutic residential care

Therapeutic residential care is a relatively recent development in out-of-home care service provision for young people who are unable to be placed in family-based care. This report is intended to complement a recent CFCA publication on this topic, Therapeutic residential care: an update on current issues in Australia (McLean, 2018; CFCA paper No. 49). This companion paper provides a snapshot of current practice of therapeutic residential care services conducted in Australia. It describes the configuration and characteristics of current therapeutic residential care services in Australia. The views of therapeutic residential care service providers included in our consultations are summarised, together with issues to be considered in further development of this form of care for young people.

Key messages:

  • There is likely some variability in the way that the therapeutic residential care services we consulted with are configured, and in the framework and models that are drawn on to inform practice.
  • A common configuration for therapeutic homes is a four-bed home, set in the community, with two on-site staff. However, other arrangements also existed; there is insufficient evidence about the benefit of one service configuration over another.
  • Recommendations for further development included improving referral, matching and transitioning pathways for young people; more emphasis on a child-centred approach to service design; and the introduction of intensive and secure care models to meet the needs of defined groups of young people.
  • Therapeutic residential care services may benefit from the introduction of specialised therapeutic residential care models and the development of specific assessment and outcome frameworks and tools that are useful to therapeutic care.
  • Legislative changes are needed to ‘enable’ more effective therapeutic care and increase flexibility in the way services are commissioned and funded.
  • Several aspects of service delivery, staffing and structure were identified as issues that warrant further exploration.
Publication Details
CFCA Paper No. 52
Publication Year: