In 1946, the Care of Children Committee, chaired by Dame Myra Curtis, presented its report to the House of Commons. The Report of the Care of Children Committee (Training in Child Care) was a landmark report, indicating a major shift in child welfare theory, which was later to influence child welfare policy in Victoria.
The Curtis Report, as it is commonly known, led to the passing of the Children's Act 1948 in the United Kingdom. The Report of the Committee expresses members' shock and dismay at what they describe as 'the remote and impersonal relations' existing within children's homes. The predominant concerns of the Committee were not with physical and material conditions in the homes, but with the care and attention children needed to receive.
In the mid twentieth century, there was a growing awareness of the needs, and indeed the rights, of every child to stability, affection and emotional security. The United Nations' Department of Social Affairs published the report, Children deprived of a normal life in 1951. An important figure in this shift in understanding is Dr Edward John Mostyn Bowlby, the founder of attachment theory. Bowlby published the landmark book, Children and the growth of love in 1953.
Key recommendations of the Curtis report were:
The report also contained specific instructions for the good management of institutions. The Committee stated that the main requirements for a child's substitute home were:
The Committee reported that, however well children's material needs were met in Homes,
on the human and emotional side, they continually feel the lack of affection and personal interest. The longing for caresses from strangers, so common among little children in Homes, is in striking and painful contrast to the behaviour of the normal child of the same age in his parents' home. The lack of the mother's fondling cannot of course be entirely made good, but something must be provided which gives the child the feeling that there is a secure and affectionate personal relation in his life.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Report of the Care of Children Committee (Training in Child Care) - paper number cmd. 6922', in House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, 1946, http://parlipapers.chadwyck.co.uk.ezproxy.slv.vic.gov.au/home.do.
Prepared by: Cate O'Neill
Created: 18 June 2009, Last modified: 28 October 2011