Scotland's largest voluntary social care organisation has announced a five-year joint study with Strathclyde University into the effectiveness of residential schools for vulnerable youngsters.
CrossReach, the social care arm of the Church of Scotland, runs two schools for boys aged 5-18 with behavioural difficulties at campuses in Ballikinrain, Balfron, and Geilsland near Beith.
Although it costs roughly £150,000-a-year for each pupil, there has never been any research in Scotland indicating how effective this method of teaching is.
The study will seek to contact pupils from five years ago and consider their progress and follow current pupils for a five-year period.
CrossReach’s director of Children’s and Families services, Chris McNaught, said: “Last year’s Audit Scotland’s report ‘Getting it Right for Children in Residential Care’ said that kids from residential schools were much more likely to have mental health problems, become homeless or involved in the criminal justice system.
“We need to find out if this is the case, and if so, how we can do things differently and provide better value-for-money for the taxpayer.
“CrossReach is determined to ensure that the care we provide is the best we possibly can give, and this study will go a long way to helping us.”
Mr McNaught added that he believed the Scottish Government should consider providing more resources for children and young people and their families after they leave the residential setting.
There are around 1,600 children in residential care, children’s units, residential schools or secure accommodation, in Scotland at a cost to local authorities of around £250 million
CrossReach cares for thousands of Scotland’s most vulnerable citizens every day, providing over 70 services ranging from care homes for the elderly, post-natal depression counselling and residential schools.