Children’s level of happiness in a residential child care institution is related firstly to the availability, love, understanding, friendliness and empathy for their individual needs. The reality in a residential child care institution does only offer opportunities for a diluted emotional relationship because the children have to share the residential child care workers with many other children.
The goal sought in child care is the performance of a service with integrity and competence and respecting children’s privacy and confidentiality in a residential child care institution has an impact on their ability to foster a relationship built on trust with the children. A child’s sense of trust in an adult is one of the basic requirements in a child’s development. In practice trust is a professional ethical standard prescribed in the Code of Ethics and it involves personal integrity as child care workers in the course of their work have to make decisions about what is acceptable by their profession.
Empowerment of children should be the central focus of the residential child care worker’s task. Empowerment means that children must not live in a vacuum, but be trained to do certain things such as mastering household skills and the wider social and economic aspects which influence the lives of children in a residential child care institution.
According to the Draft National Policy Framework for Families, the empowerment of young people in residential care is the central focus of the residential child care worker. The worker’s role in the empowerment of the children is to consider the wider social, political and economic climate which influences the lives of the children. The worker needs to be aware of the child’s background and how this impacts on children whom they care for. Once workers have established this, they must move on to establish practical strategies for empowering young people, particularly in relation to their race, ethnicity, gender, disability and sexuality.
The importance of parents or substitute parents communicating their unconditional care and affection to a child through all their relations with the child must be noted. The greatest impact of parenting care is on the self. Approval and acceptance by others are essential for the development of self approval and self acceptance. Whether a child will develop a constructive or destructive attitude, first to himself and then to other people, depends on the first place on his parents or substitute parent’s attitude of care to him. Caring is a natural capacity, that by commitment and valuing to an individual encourages one to be concerned and acknowledges need in another, and by means of an empowering presence or relationship leads one to act ethically towards another.
Respectful residential child care workers simultaneously nurture the needs of children and maintain high expectations for positive behaviour and they create strong helping alliances with children that foster autonomy and responsibility. Guidance should be geared to the child’s changing needs. As children mature, they need different types of adult support and that the essential goal of working with children in a residential child care institution is to help them build strengths so that they feel confident about their skills and are able to cope with challenges in the world. Residential child care workers and other professionals should support children by acknowledging their frustrations, exploring their ideas about possible solutions, and helping them focus on the times they have been successful in managing their own behaviour.