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Cross CurrentsFamily Law and Policy in the US and England$
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Sanford N. Katz, John Eekelaar, and Mavis MacLean

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198268208

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198268208.001.0001

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From Curtis to Waterhouse: State Care and Child Protection in the UK 1945–2000

From Curtis to Waterhouse: State Care and Child Protection in the UK 1945–2000

(p.565) 26 From Curtis to Waterhouse: State Care and Child Protection in the UK 1945–2000
Cross Currents

Judith Masson

Oxford University Press

Many of the current concerns about the care system in Britain mirror the concerns of the Curtis Committee which surveyed the provision for ‘children deprived of a normal home life’ at the birth of the welfare state. Both in the mid-1940s and at the end of the 1990s, alarm was expressed about the quality of care provided to children looked after in public care. After care by the child’s own family, adoption was seen as ‘the most completely satisfactory method of providing a substitute home’. The development of foster care was crucial. Children seemed to flourish, in marked contrast with their starvation of affection in residential care. There was greater awareness of the severe risks that some families pose to their children. This rediscovery of child abuse provided further graphic examples of the failings of state services through public inquiries into the deaths of children supposedly under state protection. Whilst poverty no longer justifies substitute care, it remains a major factor for families whose children come to the attention of social services.

Keywords:   Britain, Curtis Committee, welfare state, public care, foster care, child abuse, poverty, social services, adoption, residential care

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