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At a rudimentary level, institutional (also known as ‘residential’) homes for children are shared group living spaces, providing 24/7 care for children unable to live with their parents and/or alternative caregivers. Children live in institutional homes for a variety of reasons, including individual factors, such as parental ill-health, death, abuse, or neglect but also wider structural factors, such as structural inequality. Children can also be placed in other forms of residential institutions such as mental health hospitals or secure prisons. In institutional homes, children are almost always placed with other children, often unrelated, although sibling groups can be placed together. In some exceptional circumstances, children can be placed in single-bedded units.

What primarily distinguishes institutional homes from other forms of alternative care, such as foster care, ...

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