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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): LCC/CH/M
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1824-1965
Level of description: Collection
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Extent: 8.55 linear metres
Name of creator(s): LCC | London County Council x London County Council


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Children's Service of the London County Council (LCC) was responsible for 4 groups of deprived children: those placed in care by their parents, those brought before juvenile court and then sent to approved schools or placed in care, those being adopted and those with foster parents. In 1929 the Local Government Act gave the functions of the poor law authorities to the LCC. The Council began to develop child services, but the Second World War interrupted this process. After the war a conception of a new form of organisation was beginning to emerge.

The 1948 Children's Act vested central control of children's services in the Home Secretary; the county councils were made children's authorities, and each was required to appoint a children's Committee and a children's officer. The LCC set up its Children's Committee in December 1948. The first children's officer was appointed in April 1949. The LCC had the duty to receive into care any child in the County, under the age of 17, whose parents or guardians were temporarily or permanently prevented from providing for them properly. Having received a child into care the Council was required to "further his best interests and afford him opportunity for the proper development of his character and abilities".

The 1948 Act required the Council to find foster carers where possible. When this was neither practical nor desirable a child was placed in a children's home. When the Children's Service was established there were 24 children's homes and nurseries. 7 of these homes were very large and had been built by the Boards of Guardians. The Service pursued three aims: that homes were to be modernised by rebuilding and adaptation, that all children should be removed as quickly as possible from unsatisfactory establishments, and that new, smaller homes should be built to facilitate the closing of the out of date largeer homes. The LCC also developed several specialised establishments, with highly qualified staff, for children presenting acute difficulties of behaviour. By 1964 there were 160 homes under the care of the Service, including nurseries for under-fives, hostels for young wage earners still in care and homes for short stay children. Procedures in the homes were also changed. Children were sent to local schools and encouraged to bring friends back to the home. Parents were invited to visit frequently. Local adults could act as 'uncles and aunts' to otherwise friendless children. Clubs, out of school activities and house magazines flourished.

The Children's Service was required to make available to juvenile courts information on the health, character and school records of all children appearing before the court. The LCC was obliged to provide remand homes for children who appeared at juvenile court, where young people awaiting a court appearance were held in safe custody. They were also used as observation centres, where psychiatrists could observe the children and provide the court with information about reasons for their behaviour and suggest the most appropriate school for the child.

In 1930 the Council decided to consent to the adoption of suitable children in its care. In 1958 the Council appointed 2 adoption officers, who came to be recognised as expert advisers on all matters connected to adoption.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the London County Council Children's Department comprising general files relating to various subjects including copies of statutes affecting children; bye laws passed by the LCC; reports regarding changes under the Local Government Act 1929; schools transferred to the LCC in 1930; evacuation and return of children from residential schools and homes during Second World War; boarding out; entertainments, holidays and holiday camps; transfer of Poor Law institutions and responsibilites to the LCC; the Interdepartmental Committee on sex instruction in residential schools; adoption of children and registration of adoption societies; deaths of children in care; the Roman Catholic Liaison Committee; preventative work; children neglected or ill treated in their own homes; homeless families; handicapped and mentally defective children; children in care; fostering and foster homes; statistics; 'Aunts and Uncles' scheme; cooperation with the police; young unmarried mothers; transfer of care services from the LCC to the boroughs; training of nursery students; spiritual ministrations; inspection of homes; Children's Department bulletins and circulars; pamphlets and leaflets about the work of the service.

Please note that because of the sensitive and personal nature of the information some files are closed. Please see the detailed catalogue for further information.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

52 boxes. Please see detailed catalogue for listing.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 1998.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright: City of London

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Acquired with the records of its parent body, the London County Council.

Allied Materials

Related material:

For the London County Council Children's Department see LCC/CH/C, LCC/CH/D, LCC/CH/E and LCC/CH/M.

Publication note:

For further information on the history of the LCC please see Achievement: A Short History of the London County Council by W Eric Jackson (1965), LMA Library reference 18.0 1965, The London County Council 1938, LMA Library reference 18.7 SER 4, and The Youngest County: A description of London as a county and its public services, 1951, LMA Library reference 18.0 1951.

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
April to June 2009

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