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goodenoughcaring.com is an arena for the discussion of  issues of interest to parents, foster parents, residential child care workers, counsellors, youth support workers, social workers, teachers, mentors, social pedagogues,  educateurs  and to young people who are, and adults who have been, in care. If you are interested in, or involved in the care,upbringing and education of  children and young people or in the nurturing of children and young people who are unable to live with their own families  goodenoughcaring.com  is a site for you. The website welcomes  thoughtful views – personal, practical or theoretical –  about the care of children and young people.  If you want to comment about  child care or about goodenoughcaring.com  then  e mail:  goodenoughcaring@icloud.com

The goodenoughcaring.com site is archived at the British Library.

The goodenoughcaring journal is an online publication which invites anyone wishing to publish papers and articles about  parenting, nurture, child care work and related fields or those wishing to write about their child care experiences to submit as e mail attachments  papers or articles for publication to the editors at goodenoughcaring@icloud.com.

The members of the editorial group are Cynthia Cross, Evelyn Daniel, Siobain Degregorio, Jeremy Millar, Jane Kenny, Ariola Vishnja, Mark Smith, John Stein and Charles Sharpe. The current issue was published online on 18th, June, 2014 and  the next issue will be published on December 15th,  2014. The Journal index can be found at http://www.goodenoughcaring.com/the-journal/

Unity through Relationship Annual Conference, November 2016: Call for Papers


Maurice Fenton sends this Call for Papers for Unity through Relationship’s  annual conference in Dublin. Unity through Relationship is a partnership between Empower Ireland, Gateway Organisation, CYC-Net and Transform Action International.


The Ecology & Impact of Trauma: Relational Responses to Disrupted Development

7th – 9th November 2016
Regency Airport Hotel (Whitehall), Dublin, Ireland

At this time we are sending out a Call for Papers for the 3rd annual ‘Unity through Relationship’ International Conference, an inclusive learning & development event which builds and strengthens connections, relationships and interdisciplinary working. All who are involved in the provision of care and services to children, youth and families are welcomed, including but not limited to: front-line practitioners (social work, social care, teachers, family support staff), clinicians, educators, justice professionals, mental health staff, researchers, managers, carers and students.


Conference theme: The impact of trauma on mental health and relational responses.
We all begin our physical, mental and social development from the moment of conception, a process, which, even at that early stage, is influenced by genetic and inter-generational factors. As we travel along our life course we encounter many factors within our ‘ecology’ and these can impact on our development. Positive and nurturing factors augment healthy development and resilience. However, the converse is also true, negative experiences can stunt or arrest development. We refer to such deeply distressing experiences as ‘trauma’. It is here that the conference has its foundation.

In 2016, the Unity conference is seeking to draw from the expert knowledge of colleagues who have particular interest in the understanding of how ‘’disruption within ones ecology’’ can impact on growth and development. This includes pre-birth disruption (such as contributes to syndromes such as FASD), abuse/neglect and any other type of event which can contribute that what is seen to be a ‘mental health issue’. A focus should also be on how we can optimally respond to such trauma using relational approaches.

The objectives of this 3-day conference are (within a relational framework):

i)  to provide a forum to present thinking and share the views and practice experiences;
ii)  to aid carers and professionals to understanding how early and inter-generational trauma can impact on the mental health needs of young people;
iii)  to share progressive and contemporary knowledge, with a focus on a relational response.

At this time we are sending out a Call for Papers seeking applications to contribute to the conference. If you have an idea you would like to propose or want some help with the application process, we will be happy to provide support. This conference will be innovative, programmatic, participative, comparative, critical and empowering.

We are also seeking expressions of interest from prospective presenters who may have associated 1 or 2 days trainings which they would be willing to deliver on the Thursday 10th and Friday 11th as part of a suite of trainings related to the conference theme being made available as we have done in each of the previous events. This has proven to be an excellent opportunity to make available innovative trainings that may otherwise not be accessible and thereby positively influence practice. It is also an opportunity for professionals to make available trainings that they may be in the process of developing.

Submissions can be made at  http://unitythroughrelationship.com/call-for-papers/ or alternatively forms can be downloaded from the website or are available from and must be completed and returned to: info@empowerireland.com prior to 16th May 2016

Website: www.unitythroughrelationship.com

Bookings via Eventbrite @ http://www.unitythroughrelationship.eventbrite.ie/

‘Balancing Care :  Recognition and regulation in the Era of Professionalisation’ Social Care Ireland’s Annual Conference, April 2016 .


Social Care ireland’s  2016 National Conference ‘Balancing Care: Recognition and regulation in the Era of Professionalisation’  takes place on Thursday 14th and 15th of April at the Killashee House Hotel , Naas, County Kildare.

The keynote speakers are Denise Lyons, Fred McBride, Mark Smith, Ginny Harrahan and Ben Charnaud.

There will be further parallel presentations and workshops from EPIC*, John Digney, Maxwell Smart, Carol McGinty, MacGowan, Hazel Gough, Karen Sugrue, Aoife Colleen, Lillian Byrne, Drew Murphy, D.Wiliams and F. McSweeney, Mary Hardiman, Carlos Kelly, Catherine Byrne, Leon Ledwidge, Mark Smith, Ben Charnaud, Dan Lawrence, Lhara Mullins, Sharon Horan, Pat McGarty, P.J. Garnett, Attracta Brennan, Fiona Walshe, Judy Doyle, Anne-Marie Shier, John McHugh, Denis O’Driscoll, David Power, Darragh MacCullagh, Jonathan McGookin and Adrian McKenna.

*Empowering People in Care

Full conference attendance , students discounts, and day attendance tickets are available. Bookings can be made at www.socialcareireland.ie

Liberating Institutions, a paper by John Burton published by the Centre for Welfare Reform

In what many believe to be a critical time for our social care system The Centre for Welfare Reform has  just published an exigent and apposite discussion paper by John Burton, Liberating Institutions. In this discussion paper John describes the way in which care homes and the people who live and work in them are subjugated and constricted by a social care system run and regulated for the benefit, protection and preservation of an elite of – mostly well-meaning – politicians, bureaucrats, care organisations and in a large part for the profits of owners and shareholders.

However, the author believes that there is an alternative, more hopeful, way to look at the same picture. In every care home there is another sort of institution trying to get out: a community formed of people in mutual caring relationships in search of self-determination, empowerment and liberation.

John’s paper can be downloaded from The Centre for Welfare Reform’s website here

Over a number of  years John Burton, an eminent author on social care issues, has been a generous contributor of articles to the goodenoughcaring Journal.


Kilquhanity School and John Aikenhead


Though perhaps less well-known than his friend and mentor from the progressive school movement A.S. Neill,  John Aikenhead, who in 1940 founded Kilquhanity School near Castle Douglas in Scotland was a Scottish educationalist who believed children should be happy at school and encouraged to learn through their own discoveries. He did not believe that learning could be fully achieved by following without question the imperatives of external authorities. He celebrated humanity and its capacity sometimes to achieve things through first getting them wrong and as a consequence of this,  then getting them right. Hence the  Kilquhanity School motto “Freedom, Equality and Inefficiency” is not entirely tongue in cheek.  John Aikenhead, and his wife Morag Aikenhead saw the Kilquhanity School ‘the experiment in education’ through from 1940 until the school closed in 1997 when Aikenhead felt that a natural end had been reached.

You can find more about John Aikenhead  and Kilquhanity School at http://www.braehead.info/html/50_years_young.html  and  http://www.braehead.info/html/john_aitkenhead.htm

Increasing concern for the growing numbers of homeless families and homeless young people

In his response to our review of Maurice Fenton’s book Social Care and Child Welfare in Ireland Integrating Residential Care and After Care,  John Molloy could also be referring to a matter which is also a critical concern on this side of the Irish Sea. He writes,

I read your review of Maurice Fenton’s book. The Aftercare scene here [in Ireland is getting worse not better! I am sure you are familiar with the ever increasing numbers of homeless families here in Ireland. Every month a new record is set. We have long ago surpassed previous record numbers of the 1980’s and 1950’s. There is a massive housing shortage and rents are rising constantly to the point where many cannot afford to pay. Young people leaving residential and foster care have no chance of getting private rented accommodation because landlords will not accept welfare cheques. Some residential centres are being log-jammed because they cannot move over 18’s on. Our kids are on the bottom pile.

Recently we admitted a boy a few months past his 17th birthdate. We have since been told that he will not be eligible for aftercare when he turns 18. When we challenged this we were told of a regulation that states the young person must spend a full year in residential or foster care to be entitled to aftercare. When asked to explain the thinking behind this we were told that if everyone was entitled to aftercare then there would be a rush of young people wanting to be in care! 

That comment apparently came from a Government Minister. 

In the meantime we opened an aftercare or “transition Housing” project. This is an unsupervised home where 4 over-eighteen year olds live in what is called a “a congregational setting”. The emphasis I am placing is that the model is geared to emphasise peer-support to get around problems of loneliness, support networking etc. Strangely enough I am finding that the young people are resistant to this in some ways leading me to think that they would prefer to live in a more regimented Children’s Home type model. There is no winning!


Issue 18 of the goodenoughcaring Journal has arrived on time !

 December 15th,  2015 : Issue 18 of the goodenoughcaring Journal,  is now online. We hope you find things in it which interest you.

Elaine Arnold writes about the importance of considering attachment theory for the support of those who have become separated from their families, Denise Carroll and Mark Smith tell of recent research into the co-working of mental health and residential care workers, Cynthia Cross  writes about defensiveness in adults who look after children, Maurice Fenton writes about his underlying reasons for writing his latest book, Justin Frost reviews Ken Loach’s classic film Family Life, Alex Russon writes about DavidJohn Stein reconsiders the potential of a points system in group work with young people, Patrick Tomlinson explores the significance of Empathy in communication with troubled children, John Whitwell provides an account of the therapeutic community approach, Nigel Wilson thinks about statements of purpose in children’s homes and Charles Sharpe reviews Maurice Fenton’s book Social Care and Child Welfare in Ireland Integrating Residential Care, Leaving Care and Aftercare. This issue’s editorial is More for less or more and better.

The next issue of the goodenoughcaring Journal will published on June 15th, 2016.

You can hear that whistle blowin’ from the west down to the east

It’s on its way. The goodenoughcaring special (aka goodenoughcaring Journal 18) is approaching your station, and  if you look  up the rail track you can just about see her coming round the bend you can  just begin to the see the passengers and their paraphernalia.

Part of the way : New Orleans to ChicagoElaine Arnold writes about separation, loss, attachment and reunion issues, Denise Carroll and Mark Smith consider recent research about residential care workers and mental health professionals working together, as ever Cynthia Cross talks sense, this time about adult defensiveness ,   Alex Russon reflects on his volunteer work with David, a man with  addictions problems and suggests the childhood events which may have led to them, Maurice Fenton writes about the feelings stirred while writing his new book, John Stein challenges us to think again about the positives of points systems,  Justin Frost reviews Ken Loach’s classic 1971 film Family Life, Patrick Tomlinson reflects on aspects of empathy, John Whitwell answers the question,”Why a therapeutic community?”, Nigel Wilson ponders upon the statement of purpose of children’s home and Charles Sharpe reviews Maurice Fenton’s new  book Social Care and Child Welfare in Ireland .   Of course we  may still pick up a few freight hoppers on the way.

See you at the station, high noon December 15th, 2016. Any day now any way now , we shall be released.

Issue 18 of the goodenoughcaring Journal is comin’ down the line


That  good friend of Thomas the Tank Engine the  special No. 18-15-12 is comin’ down the line.

Arriving at your station on December 15th  Issue 18 of the goodenoughcaring Journal is coming’ down the line and we’re hopin’ it’ll be right on time : high noon, December 15th. The list of passengers so far bearing their articles of luggage are, Elaine Arnold, Denise Carroll, Cynthia Cross, Maurice Fenton, Justin Frost, Alex Russon, Mark Smith, John Stein, Patrick Tomlinson, John Whitwell, Nigel Wilson and Charles Sharpe.

More news soon, choo choo !

Bombing Syria : a matter of conscience

There can be little doubt that more innocent members of Syrian families will be injured, maimed and killed if tomorrow evening, December 2nd, 2015, the United Kingdom parliament votes to extend the RAF’s role in the middle-east by allowing it to join with other countries to bomb  ISIL strongholds in Syria. Unfortunately ordinary families, who play no active part in the violence going on there, live in these places. Though there are noble exceptions, we seldom read of, listen to, or view the suffering and loss of these unfortunate people. Their fate does not seem to be an issue which overly troubles our media.

Our reaction to the terrible events in Paris on the night of  November 13th, 2015, lets us know how  unbearable we find the slaughter of innocents.  This may help us begin to imagine the horror Syrians living in their country and those who have fled it  have experienced and are still experiencing.  Since the start of the civil war 250,000 Syrian citizens have died as a consequence of military/terrorist action. Further British intervention will add to those deaths.

The expansion and escalation of military action may or may not  be what people of the United Kingdom want, but we are left to ponder what the worth of a girl’s, a boy’s, a woman’s and a man’s life is. Surely this is the issue Members of Parliament should be weighing up when tomorrow they examine their consciences.

December 15th, 2015 is the date the eighteenth issue of the goodenoughcaring Journal will be published online.


Issue 18 of the goodenoughcaring Journal will be online on December 15th. We have contributions from Elaine Arnold, Cynthia Cross, Justin Frost, Maurice Fenton, John Whitwell, Patrick Tomlinson, and Nigel Wilson as well as a review of Maurice Fenton’s new book, More articles are on their way and will be announced soon.