In any civilized society there are basically three types of people and laws are needed for two of those types.
The first type of people are self-disciplined, compassionate, caring. They would make the appropriate choice in a situation because it is the right thing to do. If there was no law against murder, they still wouldn’t kill people because they realize the value of life. If there was no law against stealing, they still wouldn’t steal because taking some body’s stuff hurts them.
The second type of people are less self-disciplined, compassionate, and caring. Laws work well for these people; it gives them the additional motivation to stay within society’s boundaries because they don’t want the consequences of stepping outside those boundaries. A person on one edge of this group might know that stealing is an inappropriate behavior, and though tempted to steal would not because they don’t want to deal with the embarrassment of an arrest and trial or do jail time. Someone on the other edge, may not care that stealing is an inappropriate behavior, yet still won’t because they don’t want to live with the consequences.
The third type of people couldn’t care less what the boundaries of society are and have no problem stepping outside of them. For these people laws generally work as a way to provide methods to remove them from society so that other citizens can live in relative peace. You can simply look at the prison population for examples of this group of people.
Workers within residential childcare (and I suppose any field) mirror society. There are those that do what they do simply because it is the best thing to do for the child, for the organization and for society. I wish that I was always in this group and I think most of the time I am, but I have been known to enter the second group.
For the second group of people policies, rules and programs were created. Though they want to do the best for the children and program without policies, rules and programs they might lose their way. The second group of people will include those that think administrators have no idea what they are talking about, but will still do what they say because they don’t want to be unemployed. This group includes those that may think a rule is stupid, but will still follow it to avoid the consequences of not following it. It also includes those people that think some program, rule or policy isn’t very important, but again will follow them to avoid a trip to the big office.
Like society the third group couldn’t care less what the program, rules or policies are and continually step outside them though they usually interview well. Fortunately, these people usually don’t last long and are quickly discovered and terminated but usually not before causing the creation of additional programs, policies and rules.
My challenge to those that work in residential childcare, including myself, is to try very hard to be in the first group of people. Do the very best you can at caring for these abused, neglected, troubled and often times unwanted children because it is the right thing to do. Besides, do you really want more Programs, Rules and Policies?