Residential Child Care in Malaysia: An Exploratory Qualitative Study of Caregiver–Child Interactions

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A number of children around the world require out-of-home care, and many children in Asia needing alternative care grow up in residential care homes. The impact and experience of being in residential care vary in different societies, and little is known about the lives and functioning of children in residential care in Malaysia (Fulcher & Masu’d, 2001). Conceptualized within the developmental niche framework (Super & Harkness, 1986), in this exploratory study, we used open-ended interviews and participant observation to describe the physical and social setting, caregiver goals, and child-rearing behaviors at a residential care home for orphaned, abandoned, and/or abused non-Muslim children in Kuala Lumpur. Caregivers emphasized the importance of academic achievement, respect for elders, and showing appreciation, and they were observed to use shaming, reference to caregiver sacrifice, and indirect praise to encourage those goals. Based on this exploratory study, directions for future research, practice, and policy pertaining to children in residential care in Malaysia are offered.

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