In June 2007, the Care Leavers’ Association launched a new campaign on access to records: ‘It’s Our History, It’s Our Right: Reclaiming Our Past’.
The aims of the campaign were to:
- Promote awareness of care leavers’ rights to access their files
- Promote awareness of the importance of these personal records to care leavers
- Promote best practice on accessing these vital documents amongst professionals working in this area.
In April 2007, the CLA wrote to 100 local authorities, under the Freedom of Information Act, to find out about their access to records practices. This revealed highly variable results. For instance, some local authorities received 100s of requests from care leavers wanting to access their childhood care files, whilst others received none. This raises questions about whether all local authorities are making people aware that they have a right to access this information about their time in care, if they want to. This survey has formed the basis for our campaign.
For many care leavers, accessing the records from their time in care can be a very positive experience. Sometimes, the information contained in those records can be difficult. However, accessing one’s file can often help a person to make sense of and piece together their past. Many care leavers are still unaware that they have a right to this information and even in some cases, unaware that it exists. We want to ensure, through our work, that more people are made aware of this right. We held meetings on this subject throughout 2007 and 2008.