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Access to child-care records : a comparative analysis of UK and Australian policy and practice

Goddard, Jim and Murray, Suellen and Duncalf, Zachari (2013) Access to child-care records : a comparative analysis of UK and Australian policy and practice. British Journal of Social Work, 43 (4). pp. 759-774. ISSN 0045-3102

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Abstract

In both the UK and Australia, many thousands of children experience life in public care. Such experience usually takes place in foster-care. Less commonly, it takes place in residential care or sometimes a combination of foster and residential. However, the experience of growing up in public care is not solely located in childhood. Evidence from various sources shows that it can have a significant impact across a person's entire life course. Children in care will have had files kept on them. As adults, such former children in care often seek to address later concerns, or merely to assuage curiosity about their origins. Access to their child-care records can be a very important route to constructing a fuller account of their life and can help to resolve outstanding identity issues. This article outlines and analyses the differing policy and practice regimes for accessing these records in the UK and Australia—two countries that have seen significant developments in this area of work in recent decades. It also identifies future research needs, policy priorities and practice improvements in both countries.