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Western Australia - Glossary Term

Residential Care

Term commonly found on child welfare records

Residential Care is a term used to describe a model of out-of-home care that is distinct from home-based models such as foster or kinship care. The term was used by the Department for Child Protection and Family Support to describe the placement of children and young people in home-like residential units operated by professional staff. Residential units are generally houses in the metropolitan area but will include hostels in regional and remote Western Australia.


Historically, residential care has been called out-of-home care, substitute care and alternative care (ie not living at home with parents). Children and young people have been placed in residential facilities variously called orphanages, institutions, children's Homes and training, reform or industrial schools. Up until the 1970s, when group Homes came into existence, these residential facilities were generally medium to large, institutional operations. Children usually slept in dormitories, attended the local school or one that was on-campus, and ate together in a communal dining-room. Even where the cottage parent model was preferred, family-size groups were the rare exception rather than the norm for most of the 20th century.


Online Resources

Sources used to compile this entry: Department for Child Protection, Residential Care Conceptual and Operational Framework, State Government of Western Australia, October 2011,; Information Services, Department for Community Development, Signposts: A Guide for Children and Young People in Care in WA from 1920, Government of Western Australia, 2004,

Prepared by: Debra Rosser