By Paul Michael Garrett.
An optimist, it is said, believes we live in the best of all possible worlds. A pessimist fears that this might just be true. Paul Garrett’s book bounces between the two, contrasting, for example, the market forces policies of the 1990-7 Major governments with subsequent New Labour policies of renewed commitment to adoption and Quality Protects.
This book is for those interested in social policy, particularly as it affected and influenced child care from the 1990s up to almost the present day. Unfortunately, the book appears too early to deal with the green paper and what this says about the shifts in policy for children and young people.
This is a volume focused on local authority policy in England and Wales and, as a result, ignores the real contribution of both the voluntary sector and also initiatives such as Sure Start and the Children’s Fund. This is a pity, since one of the policy paradoxes of this government has been the investment of faith and money in arms-length organisations, rather than directly into local authority services.
It is, however, a book for those who want to understand the immediate past, in the hope that it might enlighten the future for children.
Chris Hanvey is UK director of operations, Barnardo’s.