Adoptions, fostering and out-of-home care

Different sorts of records

There are a variety of ways in which children were cared for between the years 1920 and the present day: they may have been looked after by State Welfare, by a home run by a church, or through private means such as living with extended family members. It is possible that children may have been cared for in all three ways at different times in their lives.

The sorts of available records and means of accessing them differ between the sorts of care provided.  In general, we can separate the records into two broad categories, State records and Non-State records:

  • State records were created by government departments, and include records on Wards of the State, adoption, custody, child protection and welfare.  It also includes school and health care records.
  • Non-state records were produced by private institutions such as churches and community care groups, and private care homes.  They include family memoirs, photographs and other collections.

It is important to remember that your files are not collated together in one file in your name: you might have three or four separate files. It is likely that your files might exist across both State and Non-State collections, and that even within these, there might be several files in different series. For example, you may have been a Ward of the State but placed into a Non-State care home.

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