This paper is influenced by many years of work in residential services for children in need. My experience has spanned the changing nature of residential care, from the group home model of the 1970 and 1980's - which provided long term care to children, apart from their family, with little or no family contact, - to the more individualised care offered in units today for children with very specific needs, for short periods of time, usually in conjunction with their own families. This is in keeping with the spirit of the Child Care Act (1991). Children admitted to care are disadvantaged by a number of factors. They have been separated from their primary caretaker, they are not being cared for in their own family and they tend to come from socially disadvantaged families [Schaffer and Schaffer (1968); 0' Higgins (1996)]. The circumstances which lead these children to be in need of care can be many, are always complex and include the following; family breakdown; family unable to cope; neglect; abuse - physical, emotional and sexual; alcohol and or drug abuse; (McCarthy 1996): Children especially in their first four years develop at a pace unparalleled at any other stage in life, but development may be thwarted by factors such as poverty or by the absence of parents (Gilligan 1991). The Collins Dictionary and Thesaurus (1987) defines education as "the act or process of acquiring knowledge" and the word development" as having the same meaning as education. Therefore "development" and "education" are used interchangeably.

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