As a founding member of the Access to Records Campaign Group (ACRCG) the CLA has won a government promise to review the rules on care leavers’ access to their social care files and family details with the aim of providing them with comprehensive information. The new government commitment has been given to ensure that adults who grew up in the care of the State (Care Leavers) are able to receive comprehensive information about their family background and personal history, whether they have spent all or part of their childhood and/or adolescence in the care system. This guidance will see significant changes to the current approach to gaining access to social care files which currently is inadequate and inconsistent.
Darren Coyne says: “To have the needs of care leavers, seeking access to their social care files recognised in this way is a significant step forward for care leavers. It is important to recognise the life course as many care leavers who seek access to their files do so in our experience once they arrive at the their 30s and above. This statutory guidance, if implemented with the voice of care leavers central to it will see major changes to the way care leavers are received and supported by local authorities and voluntary organisations when applying for access to their social care files. The guidance must put the care leaver at the heart of the service provided, as opposed to the current situation where local authorities put themselves and their own concerns first. Applying for files is much more than a bureaucratic exercise, it is a request for access to one’s identity, to one’s history and it is only right that this is recognised in statute. As one care leaver said to me having received their files “it’s like looking back at your life through the lens of a camera”, an experience this care leaver and thousands of others find is integral in the journey through life.”
The (ACRCG) is made up of organisations and agencies, including:
The Care Leavers’ Association, Barnardo’s, British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF), Post Care Forum, Association of Child Abuse Lawyers, Child Care History Network
It is supported by Baroness Lola Young of Hornsey, who has been an integral parliamentarian lead and without whom this may not have happened.
The Hansard record of the debate in the Lords can be read here.Access To Records Hansard