Child Care History Network : Progress Report

It has been decided to set up the Child Care History Network (CCHN, or See chin). A Steering Group is preparing an initial day conference, a draft Constitution and other plans, and it is intended to hold a General Meeting at 9.00 a.m. on Thursday 23 October 2008 at the Planned Environment Therapy Trust, Toddington, near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, to establish the Network formally.Anyone who is concerned about the history of child care services for children and young people in the United Kingdom will be welcome to attend as a founding member. This paper is intended to explain the reasoning behind the venture, and the conclusions reached to date by the Steering Group.

Why is the history of child care important?

The history of child care is important – and in particular at the present time – for the following reasons:

(a) An understanding of the history of child care services will help to inform the profession and those in positions of power and influence, so that they learn from the past. New developments in policy risk repeating earlier problems if they are uninformed by an understanding of the past. The Steering Group is keen to emphasise the need to apply what we learn from history.

(b) Individuals who have used the services or relatives of service users may need to understand their experiences and the context within which the services were provided.

(c) People generally know very little about the history of child care. Beyond Dr Barnardo, how many historical figures concerned with developing child care could the man in the street – or the child care professional – name? The quality of today’s services is founded on the work of our predecessors, and it should be celebrated.

(d) There is a serious risk that records and other archives are being irretrievably lost. This applies both to services which are being closed in the public, voluntary or private sectors, and to the records held by individual professionals, which risk being burnt or shredded as people retire, move house or pass on.

(e) At present there is no list of child care archives to which historians, researchers or students can refer. Without such information concerning records, people waste time finding them or fail to do so, such that their work is underinformed.

(f) There is no national archive to which people can send their papers and books, nor any list of established repositories prepared to archive materials.

(g) The way that training has developed in recent years, there is a loss of awareness of earlier writings and research, and there is the risk that without the insights of the past, professionals’ understanding of children’s needs and how they may be met is the poorer.

What does the Steering Group mean by ‘child care’?

We have found it difficult to find the right definition of the Network’s remit and keep the title brief. We are concerned with all types of services which children and young people receive, (and their families in so far as the children and young people are involved). We are therefore including the history of nurseries and other forms of day care, child-minding, play, pre-school education, youth and community work, foster care, residential child care, boarding education, hospital care, social work and youth justice services. Support systems such as training, management and quality assurance will also be considered. There are no doubt other types of service which are not listed here, but it is hoped that the list indicates the nature of the Network’s intended remit.

We do not anticipate CCHN being concerned about children and childhood as such, nor about mainstream schooling or medical care.

What sort of people have shown an interest in starting CCHN?

About sixty people have been in touch with the Steering Group so far. They include archivists, university lecturers, librarians, residential child care workers, consultants, early years specialists, and so on. A few have a direct professional interest in the subject as historians or archivists, but the majority are professional people with a concern for the importance of child care history.

The Steering Group are all based in England, but interest has been expressed by people from Scotland, and it is felt that the geographical remit for the Network should probably be the UK. We have also been contacted by people from outside the UK, and it is the Group’s view that they should be welcomed as members, but that the remit of CCHN should not at present stretch beyond the UK.

What activities does the Steering Group envisage for CCHN?

We are planning a day conference, to be linked with the General Meeting in October, and we expect that there will be a modest programme of meetings – perhaps a couple per annum at first.

The first project will need to be the identification of all the archives of which we are aware. This will be done initially through the personal knowledge of Network members, but if funding can be obtained, it is hoped that systematic work will be undertaken to contact archivists and organisations providing services to ensure that the list is comprehensive.

The second project could then be to encourage individuals and organisations with archives to ensure that their records are lodged safely, to identify repositories prepared to accept archival materials, and to publicise the need to preserve historical materials before they are damaged or lost.

Is there no other organisation already working in this field?

If there is an existing organisation covering the history of child care services, we shall be pleased to join it, but none of our contacts to date has mentioned such a body.

There are several organisations with parallel or overlapping remits, and we shall be happy to work in partnership with them, sharing information or activities. So far we have become aware of the following:

– CHARM – the Charity Archivists and Records Managers Group, which includes charities working with children and young people (and other groups);

– the Social Work History Network, set up in 2000, which covers social work for children and their families (and other client groups);

– Institute for the History and Work of Therapeutic Environments, whose remit covers therapeutic services for children and young people (and adults) and is based at the University of Birmingham;

– the Youth & Community Work History Network, which organises biennial conferences under the aegis of the University of Durham.

How do you expect CCHN to be funded?

It is not expected that the budget will be very demanding initially as it is hoped to keep in contact with members electronically where possible.

The Steering Group will be proposing modest membership fees of £15 per individual member and £30 per organisation. It is hoped that this will cover basic running costs, such as maintaining the website and expenses arising from the Board’s meetings.

There will be a charge to cover the cost of conferences and it is hoped to obtain grants for projects.

What will happen at the first General Meeting?

The Constitution will need to be approved, the Board will need to be elected, the subscriptions will need to be agreed, and founding members will need to pay up. We hope that it will also be a good opportunity to meet people and to network.

What will be expected of CCHN members?

Beyond paying the subscription, it will be for members to decide how actively to participate.

It is anticipated that a Board of about half a dozen people will be required. Someone will need to be CCHN’s webmaster. If projects are to proceed, members will need to progress them or prepare bids for funding.

It is hoped that there will be interesting discussions on the website, and their success will depend on members’ participation. has been purchased for two years, but is not yet in action.

How can people join CCHN?

People interested in joining CCHN and/or attending the day conference on 23 October 2008 should email Dr Craig Fees, who will keep them informed of developments. (Those who have already sent Craig their details need not do so again.) Craig’s contact details are:

Hon. Director, Institute for the History and Work of Therapeutic Environments

Archivist, Planned Environment Therapy Trust Archive and Study Centre

[email protected] 01242 620125

Patron The Earl of Listowel

Steering Group

Cynthia Cross Seminar Planning Group
Craig Fees Seminar Planning Group
Maureen O’Hagan
Nicola Hilliard Treasurer
David Lane Chair
Rosemary Lilley Minutes
Angela Nurse Secretary
Charles Sharpe Seminar Planning Group

Note The roles being fulfilled by members of the Steering Group will terminate at the General Meeting, when elections for the substantive offices will take place.

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