Can Children Be Safe if Their Caregivers are Not? Reflections on the “Promise” Study of Workforce Issues in a Residential Treatment Center for Children

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article reviews findings from a recent ethnographic study of the workforce in a residential treatment center for children. Major threats to workers’ physical safety and psychosocial well-being were documented, including client violence and intensive and threatening regulatory oversight of practice. I show how, in this setting, the effects of client violence against workers and attempts to comply with the regulatory policy appear to have had unintended negative consequences for the safety of youth in care, as well as their caregivers. I argue that attempts to improve safety and the perception of safety for youth in care require a systemic understanding of how violence and its regulation affect the milieu as a whole, with attention to the well-being of both children and workers. I conclude with suggestions for how organizations can maximize safety for all.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)156-173
Number of pages18
JournalResidential Treatment for Children and Youth
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2 2020



  • client violence
  • New York State Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs
  • Residential treatment
  • safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Law

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