In her inspection report dated 15th March 1945, Dr McCabe described the newly appointed Resident Manager, Sr Irma,1 as excellent. She noted a nurse had been appointed to take charge of the younger children and thought it was a step in the right direction.
Change began with the appointment in 1944 of the new Superior who was praised by Dr McCabe. Sr Irma was trained in child psychology and believed that the children should be encouraged to treat St Joseph’s as their home, given more freedom and trusted to go out alone.
Following the publication of the Curtis Report in 1946, a childcare course was set up in London by the Sisters of the Holy Child. The course was of one year’s duration. Initially, two Sisters of Charity took the course and, subsequently, 10 Sisters completed their training in residential care of children in the 1940s. Thirty more Sisters attended short courses in the early 1950s. Also, in the 1950s, a number of Sisters were sent by Sr Irma to train in the English Child Psychology Course. The annals note that this experience ‘has changed the whole attitude to the treatment of Industrial School children’.
The group home system was recommended by the Kennedy Report in 1970, and many institutions were thereafter obliged to close or adopt the group home system. By that time, the Sisters of Charity had been operating a group system for almost 20 years, thanks largely to the vision of Sr Irma.