A state ward was a child committed to the care of the state between 1896 and 1997. The Youthful Offenders, Destitute and Neglected Children's Act 1896 was the first legislation to make provision for this. The terminology persisted until the passage of the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act of 1997.
The Department of Community Welfare Annual Report of 1989-1990 described a state ward as a child who had been neglected, committed a 'serious offence', or who had been admitted to the care of the state following an application by his or her parents to the Minister.
In 1990, the numbers of state wards had declined to 383. The reasons were thorough investigation of notifications of child neglect or abuse and better support for families, including improved access to housing services and child care.
In 2012, there are 1000 wards of state.
Prepared by: Caroline Evans
Created: 25 October 2011, Last modified: 5 March 2015