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A Paper Childhood: The Social Services Care Files of Former Looked After Children in the UK

Goddard, Jim (2006) A Paper Childhood: The Social Services Care Files of Former Looked After Children in the UK. In: Narrative, Memory & Knowledge: Representations, Aesthetics, Contexts. University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, pp. 111-118.

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      This chapter considers the significance of accessing written information on
      one’s childhood. A written history of one’s childhood is a rare event for most
      children, but it is routine for those who grew up in care. Between 6,000 and
      7,000 young people leave care each year in England. This suggests a
      conservative estimate of approximately 350,000 adults in the UK as a whole
      who spent part or all of their childhood in care. Each of them will have had a
      local authority or voluntary sector file which detailed various aspects of their
      care. After leaving care, many of these adults attempt to gain access to these
      files in order to answer questions about their past. This process can be
      important for a variety of reasons, such as the formation of a coherent adult
      identity and addressing issues of self-esteem (Stein and Carey, 1986: 142-143;
      Biehal, Clayden, Stein and Wade, 1995: 108-109; Pugh, 1999; Wheal, 2002).
      However, research and services in this field lag far behind those in relation to
      adults who were adopted as children (Kirton et al., 2001; Howe, Feast with
      Coster, 2000). The Data Protection Act 1998 now provides local authorities
      with new guidance for the maintenance and accessibility of such records (DoH,
      2000), thus making research on this subject particularly timely. This article
      outlines a British Academy funded research project that represents the first
      stage in trying to fill the knowledge gap in this field. It reports the early results
      of the first national survey of all local authorities (and some voluntary
      providers) in the UK on their access to records practice and procedures with
      respect to former care adults.

      Item Type: Book Chapter
      Additional Information: Copyright for chapters remain with individual authors at all times and permission should be sought from the author for any reproduction other than for personal use.
      Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
      H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
      Schools: School of Human and Health Sciences > Narrative and Memory Research Group > Narrative and Memory Research Group Annual Conference
      School of Human and Health Sciences
      Related URLs:
      Depositing User: Cherry Edmunds
      Date Deposited: 02 Jul 2009 09:12
      Last Modified: 30 Jul 2010 14:10


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