Ancestry UK

Children's Home Records

Council-run Children's Homes

In 1930, the Boards of Guardians that ran the workhouse system were abolished and the administration of the poor relief system then passed to county and county borough councils. This included the operation of homes for pauper children.

Initially, councils simply continued to run many of the existing homes set up by the Boards of Guardians. Gradually, however, they began to established new homes to supplement or replace the older ones.

Following the Children Act of 1948, local authorities were required to establish Children's Departments to run the education and welfare services for children in their area. For children in need of residential care, many councils opened new accommodation, often located in new housing developments, although a good deal of the pre-1948 properties continued in use. In 1971, Children's Departments were abolished and their functions absorbed into new Social Services departments.

Surviving records for council-run children's homes are generally held in each council's own internal archives. Prior to 1991, however, when a legal requirement was introduced for councils to retain the records of children leaving their care, the survival of all such records is very variable. A list of the local authority contact details for enquiries is provided on the website of the Care Leavers Association (CLA). The website also gives guidance and advice on accessing childhood care files, which are usually only open to the individuals they relate to.

Older records may sometimes now have been placed with the relevant county, city or borough record office. Many of these offices now have online catalogues of their holdings and also contribute to the National Archives' Discovery database. Records containing personal data often have access closed for a period of fifty years or more.

Some records relating to council-run homes, for example inspection reports, are held by The National Archives (TNA). Again, a closure period may apply to these records.