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Better Access to Care Records for Care Leavers

ACAL are supporting a call for legislative change, which will introduce legislation in a statutory format to make the task of  care leavers gaining access to their full care records much easier than it is at present.

All ACAL members are cordially invited to a Seminar at the House of Lords on Tuesday 27th November from 1 pm – 4.30 pm in Committee Room G  hosted by Baroness Lola Young of Hornsey OBE.

The Access to Records Campaign Group [ACRCG] is working with Baroness Young of Hornsey OBE to hold this invitation only seminar to discuss the current and on-going work of ACRCG, which has its focus on the experiences of adult care leavers seeking access to their social care files. This work, based on three strands of research, forms an evidence base revealing the inconsistencies and hurdles encountered by adult care leavers when seeking information about their family background and time in care. To register your interest contact Darren Coyne

You can reserve your place at the event by going to the Events Page


To read the 2016 Briefing Paper published by the campaign read our latest news page here

To read the report published following a House of Lords presentation on 21st March 2016, as a result of the round table events held during 2015, and which has been presented to  government, click here. It is entitled “It’s my journey: it’s my life, it’s my identity! Care Leavers and access to social care files.”

Members of the Access to Care Records Campaign Group (ACRCG)1 have come together 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, we believe the current approach to gaining access to social care files is inadequate and inconsistent.”

To read a press release click here.  (Microsoft Word)

The issue was debated in the House of Lords on 14th October 2013 by our supporter Baroness Lola Young. You can read the full text by clicking here (Microsoft Word)

The campaign has been a resounding success in that, although we did not manage to persuade parliament to change the law, much work has been done by the Group to negotiate changes in guidance for anyone seeking records. A summary of the changes can be found by clicking here (Microsoft Word).

The success of the campaign has been the subject of a short film on the BBC One Show on 3rd July 2014

Access to Care Records Guidance – Transitional Guidance (Children’s Act 1989)

The Group are now concentrating upon getting the message clearly set out in the new Guidelines out to all Record Disclosure Groups in Local Organisations. It is hoped that following our overwhelming success that things will change such that records will become easier to access. The goals are to:

Promoting engagement across key agencies concerned with the recording, retention and access to the  social care files of Looked After Children (LAC) and Care Leavers

  • Developing and promoting innovative approaches to national partnership working with LAC/Care Leavers in the development of services that address their individual needs
  • Promoting transparency, openness and accountability of public services to LAC and Care Leavers, in view of the overwhelming impact of public services on their life chances and quality of life
  • Providing training and information on the needs of LAC/Care Leavers, their emotional well-being and how this is impacted by the process of accessing their file(s)
  • Ensuring user led perspectives are central to policy developments and implementation

The government’s latest revision of the Transitions guidance has inserted in it a new section about how local authorities should respond when a person who has grown up in care asks to see their care file.  The Guidance is statutory guidance: local authorities are required to follow this unless there is a good reason not to. This guidance is in Volume 3 of government guidance called Planning Transition to Adulthood for Care Leavers. The section(s) applicable to ATR are 4.21 to 4.37:


Should the above link change, then the governing page is

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/children-act-1989-transition-to-adulthood-for-care-leaversManchester University Rearearch Project

Manchester University Research Project

In partnership with the Care Leavers Association, and  by using care leavers for research, we commissioned a paper into the experience of Care Leavers when trying to access their records from Local Authorities. It is entitled

Battling with a “care-less” process” – November 2017, and can be downloaded by following this link


There was a House of Lords Event on  21st March 2016 to launch the report following the Round Table Events, and on 29th October 2014 to launch publication of the new guidance.

The campaign group have organised  several countrywide round table meetings at which the above messages have been promoted. Data Protection and Social Care Departments around the country attended enthusiastically and made very interesting points. Thanks go to many ACAL members and others who provided us with free facilities to host the meetings.

Following the meeting a report was prepared by the campaign group, which has been presented to government. There are several recommendations for change. A copy of the report can be downloaded by clicking here as a pdf file

1 Peter Garsden of ACAL (Association of Child Abuse Laywers, Darren Coyne of the Care Leavers Association, Baroness Lola Young, Julia Feast and Leonie Jordan of Coram BAAF, Trish Scott from Barnados.