Children's charities and the Welfare State : a study of Barnardo's and the National Children's Home, 1933-71

Maureen Grier, Julie
(2000) Children's charities and the Welfare State : a study of Barnardo's and the National Children's Home, 1933-71. PhD thesis, University of Liverpool.

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During the first half of the twentieth century, the voluntary sector was the main provider of residential care for children. The ability and appropriateness of charitable organisations to perform this work was largely unchallenged and societies such as Barnardo's and the National Children's Home (NCH) enjoyed public esteem, while statutory child care remained a residual service. By the 1970s, however, the role of the voluntary sector in residential child care was greatly reduced (although its contribution was still significant) and children's charities developed alternative forms of provision, such as specialised fostering placements, family centres and family support schemes. This study examines the period 1933-71, and traces the political, cultural and social forces which influenced the development of voluntary and statutory child care provision and the relationship between the two sectors. Recently, closer attention has been paid to the role of the voluntary sector in welfare provision and attempts have been made to describe the relationship between the statutory and voluntary sectors, often in terms of a boundary or frontier between two separate spheres. This study argues that the relationship was much more complex than such models suggest. Central government was often ambivalent and inconsistent in its dealings with the voluntary sector, and even when there was a clear view of the role it wished to assign to the voluntary sector, this was often modified by local government and local politics. The influence of local authorities in structuring child care provision is demonstrated by reference to the children's committees of Liverpool and Kent. Liverpool, at the behest of central government, attempted to decrease its reliance upon voluntary sector homes. Kent, in contrast, sought a closer relationship with the children's charities and invited representatives of the voluntary sector onto its children's committee. Barnardo's and the NCH were both aware of the inconsistencies within central government and both societies were able to exploit differences between government departments to their own ends. Both societies employed a range of strategies, such as reclassifying homes, political lobbying and joint action, to further their interests. The thesis questions conventional understandings of the voluntary sector, demonstrating that in the field of child welfare it remained strong and influential throughout the 'classic' period of the welfare state, and yet also shows that voluntary societies were not always the innovative, radical organisations that their champions would like to suggest.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 20 Oct 2023 18:30
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2023 18:33
DOI: 10.17638/03175468
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