An exploration of the support and facilitation of young people’s religious preferences in children’s residential care services

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Anderson, Victoria J.
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University College Cork
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Set within broader practice and theoretical contexts, the overall objective of this research was to explore the support and facilitation of religious diversity amongst young people living in residential children’s services in Ireland. Based on the recognition of the unique positioning of these services in the private domain of young people and their family’s lives, as well as the complex historic relationship between residential care and religion, the research examines how well-equipped services are to effectively respond to diverse religious preferences within an increasingly secular framework. Building on the epistemological foundations of interpretivism, a social constructivist approach was incorporated into a mixed-method research design to capture the views and opinions of some key social actors in the everyday meaning-making processes surrounding this issue. The primary exploration focuses on micro-level service delivery and everyday practice. Drawing loosely on Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory (1979), broader consideration has been given to macro aspects of service delivery, including legislation, policy, and practice structures, as well as the meso-level impacts including relevant staff support, education, and training in order to contextualise the research. Data gathered indicates inconsistencies in practices, attitudes toward and framings of religion across different services, different service types and between different religions. The outcomes of the exploration highlight a need for increased religious consideration not only in frontline professional practice but also in the systems and structures surrounding everyday service delivery. The findings of the research suggest that more needs to be done to increase religious literacy amongst all involved in service delivery to ensure young people are receiving adequate support and facilitation of their religious preferences in acknowledgement of their rights to religion and the role that it may play in their lives and circumstances.
Religion , Children's rights , Residential children's services , Social care , Children's services
Anderson, V. J. 2023. An exploration of the support and facilitation of young people’s religious preferences in children’s residential care services. DSocSc Thesis, University College Cork.
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