When foster carers or staff who work in residential care, and occasionally a family, are not able to keep children safe the children are sometimes placed in what is called ‘special care’. Children are placed in special care to receive the additional help and supports they need. Special care is a building where the external doors are locked. Children attend school on the grounds of the special care unit.
Special care units are prescribed as 'designated centres' in the Health Act 2007 (as amended by the Child Care (Amendment) Act 2011). The Health Information and Quality Authority has, among its legal functions, the responsibility to regulate the quality and safety of services provided in special care units.