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Pathways to the 1946 Curtis Report and the post-war reconstruction of children’s out-of-home care

Lynch, Gordon (2020) Pathways to the 1946 Curtis Report and the post-war reconstruction of children’s out-of-home care. Contemporary British History, 34 (1). pp. 22-43. ISSN 1361-9462. E-ISSN 1743-7997. (doi:10.1080/13619462.2019.1609947) (KAR id:73676)

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The publication of the Report of the Care of Children Committee in 1946 was a pivotal moment for the out-of-home care of children in Britain. With its key recommendations implemented in the 1948 Children Act and the creation of bodies such as the Central Training Council in Child Care and the Home Office’s Advisory Council on Child Care, the report also had wider public significance in associating progressive approaches to child-care with the emerging post-war welfare state. This article argues that the creation of the Curtis Committee was far from inevitable and resulted from the inter-play of the growing recognition of the problems associated with a fragmented legislative and administrative framework for children’s care and a successful public campaign to reform standards in residential child-care which created the political conditions in which the Labour Government felt obliged to establish a formal Committee of Inquiry. The degree of interest that these processes generated in the Committee’s work led to its final report receiving substantial public attention. Although its effects as a mechanism of policy change were uneven, the context through which the report was produced meant that it became a significant benchmark for child-care standards in the emerging post-war welfare state.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/13619462.2019.1609947
Projects: British child migration schemes to Australia, 1947-1970: historical perspectives and public memory today
Uncontrolled keywords: Children Act, child care, child psychology, Curtis, Poor Law, secular, welfare state
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Culture and Languages
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council (
Depositing User: Gordon Lynch
Date Deposited: 29 Apr 2019 19:35 UTC
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2022 10:41 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Lynch, Gordon:
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