TRC International Work


Therapeutic Residential Care’ involves the planful use of a purposefully constructed, multi-dimensional living environment designed to enhance or provide treatment, education, socialization, support, and protection to children and youth with identified mental health or behavioral needs in partnership with their families and in collaboration with a full spectrum of community-based formal and informal helping resources.


Who We Are

The International Work Group for Therapeutic Residential Care (TRC) is a small invitational association of international researchers, scholars and practitioners dedicated to the continuous improvement of high quality therapeutic residential services through research, cross-national dialogue and dissemination of evidence-based information. In this pursuit, we value our formal and informal links to ACRC which has demonstrated leadership in encouraging international dialogue in what we view as a common mission to find better ways of supporting youth and families.

What We Do

Our most recent effort includes a two year systematic review of residential child and youth care broadly defined in sixteen countries including England, Scotland, Canada, the US, Ireland, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Portugal, Finland, France, Australia, Israel and Argentina. An augmented group of 49 scholars, practitioners and researchers provided a detailed analysis of residential child and youth care services in a volume published by Oxford University Press in its International Policy Exchange Series:

Revitalizing Residential Care for Children and Youth: Cross-National Trends and Challenges (Whittaker, J.K., Holmes, L., del Valle, J.F. and James, S (Eds). ( 2023) Oxford.

The book addresses the question of how societies with developed welfare and social service systems assess current needs and future directions in their residential child and youth care sectors. This includes dealing with historical concerns raised about the placement of children and youth in residential care settings, as well as identify­ing innovative strategies that offer new pathways for the integration of this often-neglected sector of service within the broader area of child welfare. Each of the 16 countries selected for inclusion is examined through a common matrix that provides information about the current policy context, key trends and initiatives, character­istics of children and youth served, preparation of residential care personnel, prom­ising programmatic innovations, and present strengths and challenges. Individual country analyses are supplemented by regional exemplars of innovative residential programs and practice in areas such as family engagement, helping youth with the transition from care to community, promising model programs, and reflections on recent policy reform initiatives. In addition to takeaways from each country, the book’s closing chapter identifies specific implications for policy reform, empirical research, and residential program innovation. What sets this book apart is its sys­tematic cross-national appraisal of residential care for children and youth with an eye toward identifying innovative policies and practices undergirded by research. In so doing, it offers a unique contribution to the international child welfare literature.


The TRC International Workgroup has convened in Malosco, Italy (2017) and Oviedo, Spain in 2019 and, most recently in advance of the recent EUSARF 2023 conference in Brighton, U.K.

The International Work Group for Therapeutic Residential Care (TRC) was established in April 2016 following an invitational summit hosted by Dr. Lisa Holmes, then Director of the Centre for Child and Family Research, Loughborough University, UK and supported by the Sir Halley Stewart Trust. The summit focused on identifying future directions for therapeutic residential care with a specific emphasis on identifying pathways to evidence-based practices. Based on an earlier critical review volume of TRC (Whittaker, J. K., del Valle, J. F., & Holmes, L. (Eds.). 2015), the 32 participants in the summit produced a consensus statement containing a working definition of TRC, a set of principles and some pathways for future research. Originally published in the journal Residential Treatment for Children and Youth – ACRC’s signature journal, it has become the most read and cited paper in that journal in recent years.

Subsequently, through the efforts of work group members, the consensus statement has been translated into Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Hebrew and Japanese and disseminated in appropriate professional journals in the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Israel and Japan. The Consensus Statement of the International Work Group on Therapeutic Residential Care has been endorsed by the following associations: The European Scientific Association on Residential and Family Care for Children and Adolescents (EUSARF); The International Association for Outcome-Based Evaluation and Research on Family and Children’s Services (IAOBER); The Association of Children’s Residential Centers (ACRC)  (USA); The Centre of Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland (CELCIS). Following these original activities, The International Work Group for TRC continues to provide a vehicle where researchers and service leaders can critically review promising practice innovations in their respective countries, identify pathways for research and evaluation of TRC and participate in collaborative research and cross-national exchange.


Present Co-Convenors

Lisa Holmes, Ph.D. (GBR)

Professor of Applied Social Sciences

School of Education and Social Work – Uni of Sussex, UK

Jorge Fernandez del Valle, Ph.D. (SP)

Professor of Psychology and Director

Child and Family Research Group – Uni of Oviedo, SP

James K. Whittaker, Ph.D. (USA)

Charles O. Cressey Endowed Prof. Emeritus

School of Social Work – Uni of Washington, USA


Founding Members of TRC and Co-Authors of the Consensus Statement

James K. Whittaker (USA)

Christopher Bellonci (USA)

Daniel Daly (USA)

Andrew Kendrick (GBR)

Patricia McNamara (AUS)

Ronald Thompson (USA)

Lisa Holmes (GBR)

David Berridge (GBR)

Robbie Gilligan (IRL)

Erik Knorth (NLD)

Laura Palareti (ITA)

Anat Zeira (ISR)

Jorge F. del Valle (SP)

Amaia Bravo (SP)

Hans Grietens (NLD)

Mette Lausten (DNK)

Susan Ramsey (USA)

Frank Ainsworth (AUS)

Cinzia Canali (ITA)

Annemiek Harder (NLD)

John Lyons (USA)

Kari Sisson (USA)

Tore Andreassen (NOR)

Mark Courtney (USA)

Martha Holden (USA)

Eduardo Martin (ESP)

Richard Small (USA)

James Anglin (CAN)

Laurah Currey (USA)

Sigrid James (GDR/USA)

Samantha McDermid (GBR)

June Thoburn (GBR)


Additional New Members Appointed in 2019

Dr. Bethany Lee (USA)

Editor of Residential Treatment for Children and Youth

Professor of Social Work – Uni of Maryland, Baltimore, MD, USA

Millie Sweeney, MS (Columbia,/MD/USA)

Deputy Director

Family Run Executive Director Leadership Association (FREDLA)


Webinar Recording 2-14-24

Critical Perspectives on Residential Child & Youth Care: An International Conversation

Revitalizing Residential Care for Children and Youth

Residential Treatment For Children & Youth

Peer reviewed journal containing workforce, outcomes, and other referenced research

Click to Learn More!

Therapeutic Residential Care for Children and Youth

A Consensus Statement of the International Work Group on Therapeutic Residential Care*



Building Bridges Initiative

Future Activities

At present, we are working to support the 2024 ACORES conference in Oviedo, Spain (October 3 & 4) under the leadership of Prof. Jorge F. del Valle. The conference theme is Meeting the Intensive Service Needs of Vulnerable Youth: Cross-National Applications of Innovative Therapeutic Programming featuring cross-national innovative service agency programs from the UK, Spain and the US. For further information, contact Prof. Jorge F. del Valle (see above).



Whittaker, J. K., del Valle, J. F., & Holmes, L. (Eds.). (2015). Therapeutic residential care for children and youth: Developing evidence-based international practice. London, England: Jessica Kingsley.

Whittaker, J.K., Holmes, L., del Valle, J.F., Ainsworth, F., Andreassen, T., Anglin, J., Bellonci, C., Berridge, D., Bravo, A., Canali, C., Courtney, M., Currey, L., Daly, D., Gilligan, R., Grietens, H., Harder, A., Holden, M. James, S., Kendrick, A., Knorth, E., Lausten, M., Lyons, J., Martin, E., McDermid, S., McNamara, P., Palareti, L., Ramsey, S., Sisson, K. Small,R., Thoburn, J., Thompson, R., and Zeira, A. (2016) Therapeutic Residential Care for Children and Youth:
A Consensus Statement of the International Work Group on Therapeutic Residential Care. Residential Treatment for Children and Youth. 33, 2, 89–106. (Dutch, Spanish, Hebrew, Italian and Japanese translations published as well.)

Whittaker, J.K., Holmes, L., del Valle, J.F. and James, S. (Eds.) (2023) Revitalizing Residential Care for Children and Youth: Cross-National Trends and Challenges. New York and London: Oxford University Press.

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