Community Homes with Education

The Children and Young Persons Act of 1969 introduced major changes in the way that children who were neglected or in trouble were dealt with. The Act gave a much greater role to local authorities in this matter and correspondingly reduced the involvement of central government. Previously, courts had been able to make an Approved School order to specify that an individual should be committed to such an establishment. Now, children were placed in the hands of the local authority to decide the most appropriate way they should be dealt with.

Perhaps the most visible effect of the Act was the abolition of the system of Approved Schools that had been operating since 1933, and the creation of new Community Homes with Education (CHEs). As their name implies, the new homes provided education on the premises for those who could not make use of normal community facilities. Although local authorities could operate CHEs themselves, most were former Approved Schools, the majority of which were run by voluntary bodies such as national organisations such as Barnardo's or the committees of local charities. Under the new arrangements, a voluntary CHE could be either 'Assisted', largely retaining its independence and charging a local authority for the service it provided, or 'Controlled', with the authority running the home, while the voluntary body retained ownership of the property and had some share in its management.

The remit of the CHEs was not specifically to house children identified as 'delinquents' but to provide for those 'who present anti-social and aggressive behaviour and whose disturbance is such that it calls for particular investigation and treatment'.

As well as the CHEs, hundreds of other Community Homes were established by the conversion of former remand homes, children's homes and nurseries. The particular title of Community Home with Education was, semi-officially at least, used to distinguish former Approved Schools from the other new Community Homes.

By 1977, 110 CHEs were in operation, housing around 7,000 children. By 1990, only 23 remained, with 1,149 children in residence. The decline mirrored the general downward trend in all forms of children's residential care and a move towards community-based care such as fostering, supplemented by specialist provision for those with special needs such behavioural or emotional problems.

Bibliography

  • Hyland, Jim Yesterday's Answers: Development and Decline of Schools for Young Offenders (1994, Whiting and Birch)
  • None noted at present.