The Care Leavers Association has launched a quality mark for local authorities and charities that provide good access to childhood care records.
The reward was drawn up by care leavers and is part of the association’s campaign to improve access to records.
A CLA survey of 100 local authorities last year revealed that practices in providing information varied widely, raising the question of whether all social services departments are making people aware of their right to access information about their time in care.
Will McMahon, CLA chair, said: “Some authorities have good policies in place but many others do not. The purpose of the scheme is to get all councils to meet the same minimum standards for providing information.”
He added there was a “huge amount of untapped demand” for information on childhood care records.
As part of a checklist of requirements to achieve the quality mark, councils will need to advertise at least once a year in a local paper and in their newsletters that care leavers have a right to access their files.
They are also required to have an internal statement of recognition of the importance to care leavers of accessing childhood information, to “get a culture of acceptance”, said McMahon. In addition they will have to monitor and evaluate their procedures and ensure that response letters are accessible and jargon-free. Applications for the award will be assessed by a panel of care leavers.
McMahon said the scheme was given government backing last week by third sector and social exclusion minister Kevin Brennan after a meeting on the CLA’s campaign.