Select Committee on Health Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by The Children's Society

Welfare of Former Child Migrants Inquiry (CM 121)

SUMMARYKey matters we wish to discuss in making a response to the welfare of former child migrants inquiry are as follows:1. A brief history of the Society's child emigration schemes to Canada (1883-1937), Australia (1925-c1955) and Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe (1949-c1955). This provides information about the number of children sent and outlines aspects of the Society's placement and after-care policies.2. The measures being taken by The Children's Society to ensure that child migrants are offered a service based on a sound historical understanding and professional good practice. The Children's Society has recognised its former role in emigrating children overseas and has implemented a two-fold strategy designated to:

  (1)  discover objective information about "what happened". To this end the Society has invested resources to learn about its former child emigration policy and the impact this has had on child migrants and their relatives. The learning process has included a fact finding visit to Canada, the aim of which was to liaise with child migrant pressure groups, meet child migrants and their relatives and locate relevant records;

 (2)  offer a range of professional post-care services to assist former child migrants and relatives searching for personal and family information. The post care services available to child migrants which are provided by The Children's Society's Post Adoption and Care Project and the Records and Archive Management Section are outlined. In addition, this discussion highlights the fact that child migrant enquiries will have an impact on the sending agencies beyond the lifetimes of the child migrants themselves. Agencies are now beginning to receive increasing numbers of enquiries from the children and grandchildren of child migrants.3. Five issues which The Children's Society considers should be regarded as being central to the welfare of child migrants. These views are based on the evidence gleaned by the Society when researching its former child emigration policies and on the experiences encountered in offering post care services to child migrants and their relatives.4. Four strategies that The Children's Society recommends the Government adopt to assist child migrants, their relatives and the agencies working with them.

1. INTRODUCTION1.1 From the late nineteenth century through to the early 1960s the British Government, through the Poor Law Authorities, and many British child care agencies were actively engaged in emigrating children to Canada, Australia and the former Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), where it was thought they would find better homes and a better future.1.2 Along with other national voluntary childcare organisations, The Children's Society1 was involved in the child emigration movement from 1883 to the late 1950s. This involvement comprised two phases. The first spanned the years 1883 to 1937 and concerned emigration to Canada via the receiving homes the Society maintained there. The second phase centred on emigration between 1925 and the 1950s when the Society used other agencies to emigrate children in its care to Australia and Southern Rhodesia.1.3 As a result of this, The Children's Society has a direct concern with the welfare of child migrants and their families, especially those who were emigrated to Canada and Australia. Our staff work directly with this client group, and thus have an extensive understanding of the difficulties that it faces. We have also initiated research into aspects of the Society's former child emigration policy which has demonstrated a continuing need for change and action on this issue.

2. THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT: THE CHILDREN'S SOCIETY FORMER EMIGRATION POLICIES TO CANADA, AUSTRALIA AND SOUTHERN RHODESIA2.1 The Children's Society emigrated approximately 3,940 children to Canada, Australia and Southern Rhodesia between 1883 and the 1950s. The Society was particularly involved in emigrating children to Canada. Between 1883 and 1937 we emigrated approximately 3,500 children to Canada. These children were sent to receiving homes in Canada from its residential children's homes in England and Wales. During the period the Society was active in Canada it maintained six receiving homes:  Gibbs' Home, Sherbrooke, Quebec (girls' home 1884-97, boys' home 1897-1933);  Benyon Home, Sherbrooke, Quebec (boys' home 1884-97)  Our Western Home, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario (girls' home 1897-1921)  Elizabeth Rye Home, Toronto, Ontario (girls' home 1924-32)  Winnipeg Babies' Home, Winnipeg, Manitoba (home for boys and girls aged 0-5, 1909-11)2.2 Until 1909 the children sent to Canada were aged between five and fourteen. Most of the younger children emigrated during this period were girls, whereas the boys tended only to go once they had reached the age of 14. In 1909 girls gained parity with boys when the Society increased their lower age limit to 14 years. In 1925 the age limit for girls was increased to 16.2.3 The Society maintained a strict policy throughout the whole period it was involved in child emigration, which required the consent of a parent or guardian to be given prior to a child being emigrated to Canada. Failure to receive consent resulted in the child remaining in residential care in England or Wales. It is not possible to ascertain whether children without parents or a guardian were more likely to be proposed for emigration than other children in the Society's care.2.4 The majority of the children sent to the receiving homes in Canada were eventually placed in paid employment. With Canada being a largely agricultural country, farming proved the most common source of work for the boys. For the girls domestic service was the main source of employment. Employers tended to be local to the homes—in the Sherbrooke, Montreal, Toronto and southern Ontario regions. The homes' proximity to the cities of Montreal and Toronto sometimes worked in the children's favour and allowed for more varied employment opportunities, for example with a jeweller and in the Bishop of Quebec's household.
2.5 In the absence of any significant after-care services being provided by the Canadian government, the Society developed its own after-care and monitoring systems for its children in Canada. These services were provided by the staff and supporters of the receiving homes, and from c1911 to 1937 by a paid Society inspector, Thomas Keeley. These services worked through local knowledge and people; as such their effectiveness is difficult to gauge.2.6 The Society's Australian emigration policy was markedly different to its Canadian counterpart. The policy was limited in scope, involving approximately 400 children. No Children's Society receiving homes were established in Australia. The children sent there all went under the auspices of six emigration organisations: the Fairbridge Society (from 1934), the Big Brother Movement (from 1939), the Northcote Children's Emigration Fund (1948), Anglican Swan Homes in Western Australia and St John's Home, Canterbury, in Melbourne (1949), and the Rockhampton Homes in Queensland (1952).2.7 Although the Society's Australian emigration policy formally started in 1934, a small number of children (approximately 35) were sent between 1925 and 1933. In 1934 the Society's Executive Committee gave this work its official sanction when it made arrangements for the emigration of a small number of children to the Fairbridge Society home at Pinjarra in Western Australia. Small groups of children continued to be sent to Australia until 1939 when the Second World War brought a temporary halt.2.8 Emigration to Australia began again in 19482. This ushered in a brief era of moderate expansion in the Society's programme which lasted until 1953. During these years the number of children being emigrated reached their peak, while the number of emigration agencies increased from two to six. The Society also became increasingly concerned with the implementation of standards of care. Particular emphasis was placed on three areas:

(1)  Parental consent prior to acceptance for emigration continued to be required. During this later period, obtaining consent proved to be the most crucial part of the selection process, and was one element which often excluded children. There is also evidence to suggest that at this time few of the Society's homes were willing to put forward parentless children for emigration. As a result, the majority of children emigrated had parents and relatives.

(2)  Medical and psychological assessment became an important feature in the Australian emigration process. If consent was given, a child's case would then be considered by the Australian Government's Selection Officers at Australia House. They demanded that each child and its parents should have a history of good health, and be given the relevant vaccinations for emigration. The medical examinations were paid for by the relevant emigration society and were mainly undertaken by the medical doctor at Australia House. For children in society homes that were a long way from London the medical examination was undertaken by a doctor nominated by Australia House.

(3)  After-care became an issue of paramount importance for The Children's Society. The Society had been developing a range of after-care services to assist the children in England and Wales it had cared for in its residential homes or had provided for through its fostering and adoption service. This was extended to children who were placed overseas. This concern is evident, for example, in a memorandum to the Executive Committee dated 4 November 1974 discussing the emigration scheme to the Swan Homes in Western Australia as put forward by the Church of England Advisory Council of Empire Settlement. The lack of any "evidence in black and white as to what After Care facilities are administered by the Swan Homes in Australia" was seen as a major stumbling block:

"Without some evidence of this kind, it may be that the risks, if children proved to be failures, would be much too great and it is possible to visualise that a child could of its own volition, and because of some unforeseen eventuality, break away from the people who had befriended it, and find itself high and dry, destitute and dependent for a living on charity or other means far worse"3.The Society also demanded that it receive regular reports on the children emigrated to the Northcote School in Victoria. Surviving correspondence dated 1950 and 1951 reveals that the Society received a steady flow of half yearly reports on each child. These included personal details and copies of school reports.2.9 Based on research completed to date, it would appear that the Society's Australian child migrants scheme ceased in 1955. However, members of the Western Australian Parliament's Select Committee have suggested the possibility of Society children being emigrated to Australia after this date. This evidence has yet to be confirmed.2.10 The Society's Southern Rhodesian child migrant programme began in 1949. The scheme was limited with approximately 40 children being emigrated between 1949 and 1954. All of the children were placed with the Fairbridge Society's Rhodesian Memorial College at Induna. Only boys aged six to 10 were accepted for the scheme, with preference being given to boys of the "above average type (IQ of at least 95) and it is important that they will be of the type which will bring credit to Britain". These requirements were made by Fairbridge in agreement with the Southern Rhodesian government. In addition, Rhodes scholarships were available for eduction beyond school leaving age, there being the expectation that "the children are brought up and educated chiefly for the professions"4.2.11 The emigration scheme operated on similar lines to the Society's Australian venture. The children were selected from Children's Society homes, their passage to Southern Rhodesia being arranged by the Fairbridge Society. Parental consent and after-care measures again formed an important element of this work, as did the need to ensure that medical and psychological standards were applied to all prospective candidates.2.12 Throughout, the Society emigrated children in the firm belief that they were being given a new start in life. The former colonies were seen as "brave new worlds" where children would have a better future. Such attitudes formed part of the "child rescue" philosophy of child care that persisted in Britain until the Second World War. The Society saw emigration as a way of saving children from their backgrounds and preventing children that had been taken into residential care by the Society from returning to their previous communities and families, where it was thought they would have to confront poverty, unemployment, immorality and crime. This philosophy was expounded at considerable length in the Society's supporter magazine of the day; for example, in its August 1899 edition, it was noted of emigration that "the child is separated from its former bad surroundings in a complete a manner as can be"5. The Society's Annual Report for 1910 recorded that emigration offered an "invaluable solution" in cases "where the children have come from bad homes, and it is certain that to go back to old surroundings would mean the undoing of all that is good that has been done [in the Society's homes]"6.2.13 Child migrants were also regarded as being the future of the receiving countries. An article in the Society's supporter magazine in January 1935 argued the case for removing children from "the congested cities of the Old Country" to populate the rural areas of Australia7.

3. UNCOVERING THE FACTS: THE CHILDREN'S SOCIETY POLICY OF RESEARCH INTO ITS FORMER CHILD MIGRANT PROGRAMMES3.1 In order to deal with the issues resulting from its earlier child migrant programmes, The Children's Society has begun working towards finding solutions. The Society recognises it was involved in emigrating children overseas as part of its former care policies and that the organisation has to deal with the consequences of its past actions. Senior managers and social work staff are finding they have to come to terms with an issue left to them by their predecessors of more than a generation ago.3.2 This involves a learning process, as Society staff aim to understand the legacy. The organisation is attempting to discover more about the context and substance of its former child emigration policies, enabling it to draw up a framework for assisting child migrants and their relatives. Three major initiatives have been undertaken to date:

  (1)  In October 1996 The Children's Society held a meeting with visiting members of the Legislative Assembly of the Western Australian Parliament's Select Committee into Child Emigration. An historical overview of the Society's policy on child emigration to Australia was presented by Ian Wakeling, the Records and Archive Manager, while Julia Feast, project leader at the Post Adoption and Care Project, provided evidence relating to post-care counselling for Australian Child Migrants. The Records and Archive Manager's paper was specifically commented upon in the Select Committee's final report8.

  (2)  Following the enquiry by the Legislative Assembly of the Western Australian Parliament's Select Committee, The Children's Society and representatives from other former UK sending agencies began holding regular meetings to discuss the issue of child migrants, examine the services that are being currently provided and develop clear practice and policy guidelines. These discussions are continuing.

  (3)  In June 1997 Ian Wakeling, the Society's Records and Archive Manager, attended a reunion in Canada of both child migrants and the relatives of deceased child migrants. The reunion took place at McGill University, Montreal, on 8 June and was organised by Heritage Renfrew Home Children Committee, a campaigning organisation established to work with Canadian child migrants and their relatives and to promote public awareness of their situation. Following a presentation on the Society's Canadian child emigration policy and practice, Ian Wakeling was able to meet people attending the reunion and discuss some of the issues that are important to them as child migrants or as their relatives. He also had several meetings with David Lorente, Director of Heritage Renfrew, to discuss his concerns and plans for the future.3.3 While in Canada Ian Wakeling also gave two presentations about the Society's child emigration policy at the Quebec International Family History Conference, bringing the issue to the attention of a wider audience. This was an opportunity for The Children's Society to put forward a more factual and objective assessment of the issue than is sometimes given by the media and pressure groups.3.4 Ian Wakeling was able to visit the National Archives of Canada and a number of provincial and diocesan archives in order to discover more about the availability of records in Canada and to locate records relating to the Society's work there.
3.5 Records are a vital element in the child emigration issue. They provide the information for helping individuals trace their background and often give the only evidence about emigration policies. Without this evidence it becomes impossible to develop an informed, factual and objective opinion about the whole child migrant issue.3.6 Questions about the availability of records have led to the perpetuation of myths and rumours by pressure groups and child migrants alike. One area of concern has been the fate of the records from the Society's Canadian receiving homes, in particular the Gibbs' Home at Sherbrooke. Child migrant pressure groups have placed considerable emphasis on finding these, but so far have been unsuccessful. The fact that they were almost certainly destroyed when the homes closed, has led to suggestions of a "cover up" by the Society and the Church of England. Although the Society has stated that it does not have these records and does not know where they are, this has not stopped accusations on the part of individuals attempting to trace child migrants.3.7 This demonstrates the value of records. Ian Wakeling's meetings with various diocesan and provincial archivists and registrars, together with those at the National Archives of Canada, have provided a clear picture of the availability of records relevant to the Society. One result of this will be the purchase by the Society's Records and Archive Section during the next financial year of several microfilms of records held by the National Archives of Canada. This will increase the information that can be given to child migrants and their relatives by the Society.

4. AFTER-CARE SERVICES FOR FORMER CHILD MIGRANTS AND THEIR RELATIVES4.1 In learning about its former child emigration policy and the problems confronting people affected by the process, the Society has developed a firm commitment towards child migrants and their relatives who make contact with a view to obtaining personal and family information. The Society considers that it has a professional duty to offer a range of post-care services to assist these people and has developed a range of appropriate procedures to deal with enquiries from them.4.2 Increasing world media interest in child emigration has led to a growing awareness of the issues involved. This in turn has led to a rise in the number of enquiries regarding child emigration, particularly from relatives requesting information about the care history of a previous generation. Many of the referrals relating to Canada have come from people who have been in touch with child migrant agencies and pressure groups, for example Heritage Renfrew Home Children Committee.4.3 Requests for information are handled by two Society departments—the Post Adoption and Care Project and the Records and Archive Management Section. Both provide good quality access to information for both former child migrants and their relatives. This service is responsive and flexible. Answers to enquiries are based on documentation contained in the Society's series of children's case files.4.4 The case files date from 1882 to the present day and form three discreet sub-series: (a) 1882-1926 in their original paper format; (b) 1927-92 only on microfilm; and (c) 1992 to date in original paper format. The files number approximately 160,000 in total.

5. ASSISTING CHILD MIGRANTS AND THEIR RELATIVES: THE SOCIETY'S ACCESS AND REPORTING POLICY5.1 The Post Adoption and Care Project and the Records and Archive Management Section deal with different types of enquiries.5.2 The Post Adoption and Care Project deals with all enquiries involving living child migrants. These entail requests from both child migrants themselves and the relatives of living child migrants who might be searching for information about care histories and birth families. In order to be able to receive information about care histories and birth families. In order to be able to receive information about their past, clients are asked by the Post Adoption and Care Project to put their enquiry in writing. If they were emigrated by the Society and wish to obtain details about their past, the project asks them to contact the local Social Services Department in their country of residence to obtain post-care counselling with a professional social worker. This allows each client to liaise with a social worker prior to having access to copies of confidential and potentially emotive material from their case files. The Society then sends copies of their case file to the social worker so that the information can be shared in a sensitive and controlled way that meets the needs of each particular client.5.3 In the case of relatives of a living child migrant contacting the Society, no information would be released without the consent of the care subject concerned, or without the care subject having first received material from their files in a controlled counselling situation. This is to ensure that the care subject's privacy is not breached and will enable them to keep their origins apart from their present family life, if they so wish. There was the potential for child migrants to experience a variety of traumatic circumstances on their arrival overseas. A proportion were victims of emotional, physical and sexual abuse. The label of child migrants was often stigmatising. Many child migrants do not want to revisit these circumstances and certainly do not want other family members or relatives to learn of their childhood situation.5.4 In exceptional circumstances, consideration would be given to sending a former child migrant a summary of their care history. Consideration would be given to the way information is shared with the client. Highly personal or emotive detail would not be included; clients would only be given access to this through the auspices of a social worker.5.5 Where a case file for a living child migrant is held in the record series maintained by the Records and Archive Management Section (case files 1882-1926), the Post Adoption and Care Project can request a copy of the original file to be made in accordance with the Records and Archive Management Section Case File Access Guidelines. This copy is then forwarded to the appropriate practitioner at the Post Adoption and Care Project.5.6 The Records and Archive Management Section responds to enquiries received from the relatives of deceased child migrants. Access to the case files is governed by the Records and Archive Section policy paper Case File Access Guidelines. This states that all enquirers are asked to put their requests in writing. Enquirers are asked to both verify their relationship with the child migrant and complete a brief questionnaire to establish the extent of their knowledge about the person concerned. Once this has been done, enquirers receive a written report compiled from the relevant case file. The content of the report is determined by a set of access and guidance procedures that has been drawn up by the Records and Archive Section.5.7 The information given in reports to the relatives of child migrants is carefully monitored. Certain details found on the case file may not be included in the final report. While the Society seeks to operate an Open Records Policy, there are instances where the operation of such a policy is inappropriate. The reasoning behind this statement centres on the rights of the deceased child migrant—specifically, the right of an individual to keep certain issues in their life strictly to themselves.5.8 As noted above, many people who were in care or were emigrated chose not to discuss their circumstances with their partner, children, grandchildren or other relatives during their lives. These facts have gone with them to their graves. Often at the heart of this attitude lies the stigmatising nature of their childhood circumstances. In some instances, people who had been in the Society's care did not want their kin to learn of this fact. Equally, child migrants were often destined to be seen as "second class citizens" in their newly adopted countries. As they grew up, they worked hard to hide their child migrant status, striving to integrate themselves into a new society and country.5.9 The Children's Society accepts these circumstances and considers that it has an obligation to partly uphold this "right to silence"—the choice of child migrants and people in care not to disclose their situation. In accepting this position, the Society recognises that when compiling reports the aim must be to provide relatives with as realistic a picture as possible, without compromising the rights of the care subject. When facts are being reported, they are stated in an objective way without the use of subjective statements. The language used to describe certain situations is also carefully considered. Each report seeks to provide a description of an individual's circumstances without deviating from the truth. Relatives will not be given access to the original case file. The report is supported with life story work, in which documentation and photographs relating to the residential children's home or homes a person may have lived in are provided. Similar life story work is undertaken for living child migrants when they express interest in receiving information about their time in care prior to emigration. Advice about how to trace relatives or locate associated records held elsewhere is also given when requested.5.10 The bulk of the enquiries received by the Society have come from the children and other relatives of former child migrants who have already died. For many it is a case of trying to find information about a hidden past that their relative refused to divulge. They have clues and snippets of information, but nothing substantial. The information from the Society's case files often reveal new dimensions for them, thus helping them fill their knowledge gap and fulfil some of their own emotional needs. In such instances people express considerable gratitude for the work that has been completed for them. This bears testimony to the effectiveness of the Records and Archive Section's Case File Access Guidelines.5.11 A small number of relatives who enquire about child migrants feel aggrieved about the whole issue of child emigration and attempt to fight for the rights of their parents or grandparents. Their perception is one of championing a discriminated or wronged section of society. Their need is to help provide recognition of these wrongs and to give their former relatives a voice. Indeed, motives such as these led David Lorente to form the Heritage Renfrew Home Children Committee. As champions of a cause, the media provides a strong route for their expression.5.12 The number of enquiries received by each department from child migrants and their relatives is as follows:

  (1)  The Post Adoption and Care Project has received relatively few enquiries from former Society child migrants, no more than eight since the project began in 1993. Since April 1997 the project has introduced a category for child migrants in its monthly statistics so that such referrals can be identified more readily;

  (2)  Between 1992 and 1997 the Records and Archive Section has completed enquiries for one living child migrant (received by the Society in 1992 prior to the establishment of the Post Adoption and Care Project) and 58 enquiries from the children, grandchildren and relatives of deceased Society child migrants. The figures for the latter breakdown as follows: 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997

 5 14 10 12 7 10Of the total number of 59 cases dealt with, 58 relate to Society children emigrated to Canada; the remaining case concerns a child placed in Australia.5.13 These figures do not include enquiries received by the Section from relatives searching for ancestors who were child migrants, and who, after a search by Section staff, were found to have been placed overseas by another sending agency. The Records and Archive Management Section has received approximately 60 such "no record" enquiries between 1992 and 1997 ("no record" enquiry statistics before 1994 are incomplete).

6. KEY ISSUES6.1 The Society has allocated resources in order to learn about child emigration and develop support and post-care services to assist child migrants and their relatives. By adopting this approach, the Society has gained a clearer understanding of the dynamic and key issues involved. These may be stated as follows:6.2 The Society has allocated resources in order to learn about child emigration and develop support and post-care services to assist child migrants and their relatives. By adopting this approach, the Society has gained a clearer understanding of the dynamics and key issues involved. These may be stated as follows:

  (1)  Former child migrants were sent to other countries for a new start in life. For the majority this meant that they lost contact with their origins and natural family. This fact is evident in all of the child migrant enquiries received by the Society.

  (2)  As with adopted people, some child migrants need to build a full sense of identity by gaining information about their backgrounds and re-establishing contact with relatives in the UK.

  (3)  Present evidence based on enquiries received by the Records and Archive Management Section would suggest that there are profound implications for ensuing generations. This is particularly the case for the direct descendants of child migrants. These later generations can be as emotional as the actual child migrants themselves as they search for information that their parents or grandparents sought to hide from them. The effects are just as profound; indeed, they can be greater if they consider that their parents or grandparents were wronged. Free from the stigma of being a child migrant, later generations can afford to give public expression to their discontent.

  (4)  Former sending agencies need to be adequately resourced to enable a full range of professional post-care services to be delivered to child migrants.

  (5)  Child emigration is an international issue that was sanctioned by the governments of the time, together with the sending agencies and their supporters. There needs to be recognition of this fact by the governments of the countries involved, linked to appropriate support for the sending agencies.

7. MEETING THE NEEDS OF CHILD MIGRANTS AND THEIR RELATIVES: THE CHILDREN'S SOCIETY'S RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE COMMITTEE7.1 Based on the information given above, The Children's Society advocates that the Government adopt the following strategies to help child migrants, their relatives and the agencies working with them:7.2 To host an international child migrants' conference. This would be an international conference held in the UK to discuss the issue of child emigration in general. The conference would aim to bring together representatives of: (a) as many of the child care agencies formerly involved in child emigration as possible; (b) the British Government and governments of the countries which received child migrants; (c) child migrant pressure groups such as the Child Migrant Trust, Heritage Renfrew Home Children Committee, and the Australian Child Migrant Foundation Inc.; and (d) representatives from the churches and other organisations connected with the child emigration movement. The conference could provide both a forum for the sharing of information and resources, and a platform for the issuing of a common accord to which all of the child care agencies would be signatories. This would recognise and accept what has occurred in the past and contain a pledge for all agencies to act positively in the future to provide an after-care service to assist child migrants and their relatives.7.3 To develop an after-care network. There is the need to develop a network of social work agencies (comprising the sending agencies and organisations such as the Child Migrant's Trust) to provide living child migrants with an after-care counselling service. The network would liaise with social work organisations in the countries which received child migrants with a view to providing clients with assured one-to-one counselling and information services. The network would have the following areas for professional expansion:

  (1)  The network could develop a professional code of practice and sets of guidelines that all agencies would be expected to work to. The Children's Society—like many of the sending agencies who have been working with child migrants—has considerable experience in the development and operation of principles and standards relating to post care counselling and historic abuse. It is important that these standards be applied to all areas to post-care practice relating to child migrants.

  (2)  There is also a case for extending elements of counselling to those relatives of child migrants who are experiencing difficulties with the information they have been given about their parents or grandparents. One can foresee problems occurring when the information that they have been given from a case file differs from their perception and knowledge of what happened.

  (3)  The efficiency of this network could be increased if the British government actively promoted the formation of professional links with post care counselling agencies and social work organisations in the countries which received child migrants. This would give scope for an international network to be established with accredited after-care counsellors being available in each receiving country. The problems of the distances clients or counsellors could have to travel in countries the size of Canada and Australia to engage in counselling could be reduced if practitioners were to be identified in each state or province of the receiving country. Joint governmental funding would be required to resource and recruit sufficient numbers of staff to provide appropriate levels of counselling.7.4 To recognise the British government's obligation to assist child migrants. The Children's Society recognises it has a responsibility to assist child migrants and their relatives. The British government should recognise it has a similar responsibility and offer financial assistance for projects and services designed to help child migrants and their relatives search for information. Within this context, The Children's Society considers the following to be important:

  (1)  Funding. A major impediment to the continued development of professional services for former child migrants is the lack of funding. This work is expensive as it requires high quality research and counselling. Considerable costs can be incurred when re-uniting child migrants with their natural families, with care subjects having to meet cost of travel and accommodation in order to be reunited with their natural families. The Children's Society believes that the Government has a responsibility to facilitate the provision of post-care services and family re-unions. It should also provide long-term funding to enable these services to continue and develop.

  (2)  A "one-stop" shop enquiry service. A "one-stop" service for child migrant enquirers would be of great benefit to child migrants in reducing the extent of the task facing them. At present, unless child migrants together with their relatives know which agency was responsible for the emigration, they have to resort to contacting each organisation in turn until they finally locate relevant information. This is hit and miss at best, many may not know about all the relevant organisations. Equally, it is time-consuming and frustrating for people embarking on an emotional and courageous quest. A "one-stop shop" would aim to provide a comprehensive service tailored to meeting their needs.

  (3)  Database programme. The service would aim to be a clearing house for the work of each of the sending agencies and would provide information resources for child migrant enquirers. Central to the creation of a "one-stop shop" for child migrants and relatives would be the funding of a database creation programme in each organisation. Each database would contain the names of child migrants and their country of destination, together with other relevant and appropriate information. These databases would share a common software and structure, thus providing rapid information retrieval for enquirers9.

  (4)  To promote good practice in the after-care of child migrants. There needs to be a full discussion between the Government and former sending agencies (possibly under the umbrella of The Child Migrants' Sending Agencies Group) to assess the type of post-care and counselling services that should be provided. The discussions would also aim to establish clear policy and practice guidelines.

CONCLUSIONThe Children's Society believes that only by adopting the above measures can child migrants and their relatives receive the attention and service they deserve.The Children's Society would welcome the opportunity to give oral evidence should the Committee request it to do so.

NOTES:1. Historical note: The Children's Society's title between 1881 and 1946 was The Church of England Incorporated Society for Providing Homes for Waifs and Strays. In 1946 this was changed to the Church of England Children's Society. The informal title of The Children's Society was adopted in 1982.2. Executive Committee Minutes, March 1948 (The Children's Society Records and Archive Section: ref: DIR/DIR/9/13, p.288).3. Papers relating to the emigration of children to Australia (The Children's Society Records and Archive Section, ref: 92.93).4. Papers relating to the Society's emigration programme to Southern Rhodesia (The Children's Society Records and Archive Section, ref: 92.64).5. Our Waifs and Strays, August 1899, p.129 (The Children's Society Records and Archive Section).6. Annual Report 1910, pp.14-15 (The Children's Society Records and Archive Section, ref: CE/CE/12/27).7. Our Waifs and Strays, January 1935, pp.6-7 (The Children's Society Records and Archive Section).8. See Legislative Assembly of Western Australia Select Committee into Child Migration (Interim Report, November 1996), p.12.9. The Catholic Children's Society (Westminster) has compiled a database of the child migrants that they placed. The database took over 700 hours to complete, but has become invaluable tool, both in helping clients and in analysing information about their former emigration programme.

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