Champions for Children: The Lives of Modern Child Care Pioneers

By Bob Holman.
The Policy Press
ISBN 1 86134 342 6

The years 1940 to 1960 represented a golden
age of child care. Seen through the biographies of six architects
of this renaissance, Bob Holman has
written a heartfelt social history of an era when causes mattered
more than careers and child care giants fought against poverty,
want and deprivation.

Among the giants he includes are Eleanor
Rathbone, who led a campaign to establish the family allow-ance;
Marjorie Allen, Barbara Kahan, John Stroud, Clare Winnicott,
formidable begetters of the Children’s Departments; and Peter
Townsend who has spent a life attacking poverty through campaigning
and research.

Last, but not least, Holman traces his own
odyssey from the East End to Easterhouse, via child care in
Hert-fordshire, the briefly seductive groves of academia and his
first community project in Southdown, Bristol.

This is a history of passion and fiercely
fought arguments – whether it was for the espousal of permanency
for children, rather than prevention, or the ceaseless fight for a
well trained and committed child care profession. The glue that
binds these child care champions is an unshakeable belief in high
quality services for children and the determination to find ways of
achieving them. We are lucky to have lived in their times.

Chris Hanvey is director of
operations, Barnardo’s.


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