Download the latest Care Records Guidance under Children Act 1989


We are a collection of individuals who aim to improve access to records for care leavers in a number of ways:-

The Access to Care Records Campaign Group ("ACRCG") was formed in May 2013 and was represented by the following organisations:  Care Leavers Association, Barnardo’s, British Association of Adoption and Fostering and Association Child Abuse Lawyers in association with Baroness Lola Young of Hornsey OBE.

The plight of adult care leavers asking local authorities and voluntary organisations for information about their family background and time in care had been a subject of critical concern for many years, both among people who grew up in care and organisations working with them. A number of significant events and developments prior to 2013 helped to galvanize the formation of ACRCG, including:

  • The landmark debate led by The Baroness Barker in June 2005 in the House of Lords about the life long needs of people who grew up in care. The House acknowledged that there was a gulf between the services adopted people may be able to receive compared with those adult care leavers were entitled to.
  • Formation of The Care Leavers’ Association (CLA) and their campaign support work based on their members’ negative experiences to improve access to care records and the creation of the CLA Clear Mark Award 2008 a quality mark awarded to local authorities and voluntary agencies that are providing a good standard of service to care leavers asking to see their records.
  • Court of Appeal judgment in Durham County Council v Dunn [2012] EWCA Civ 1654 or [2013] 1 WLR 2305 – which clarified the basis on which an adult care leaver involved in litigation with a local authority could ask for data in care records to be disclosed.
  • For a time line of historical event and developments see our resources and documents page.

It was recognised that the legal obligations on local authorities and agencies relating to access to records under the data protection legislation needed to change to meet the unique and specific rights and needs of adult care leavers. We were acutely aware that a concerted effort to lobby for legal change was necessary and this has been and remains a crucial aspect of ACRCG’s work.  Over the past five years we have achieved, through working with the Department of Education and supported by  Baroness Young of Hornsey OBE, the revision of statutory guidance setting out a framework for local authorities to follow when an adult care leaver requests to see their care records and to ensure adult care leavers receive support during that process. Whilst the binding guidance is primarily addressed to the needs of younger adult care leavers up to the age of 25 years, consistent with the DfE’s remit, it is clearly stated that the principles apply to all adult care leavers, regardless of age, who ask to see their care files.  There is still a long way to go to ensure that the legislative framework, policy and practice is fit for purpose and meets the needs of all adult care leavers.

To read the DfE Guidance we have managed to introduce into the Transitional Guidance under the Children Act 1989, click here

For more information see our work page.

Our goals are:-

  • Promoting engagement across key agencies concerned with the recording, retention and access to social care files of Looked After Children (LAC) and Adult Care Leavers
  • Developing and promoting innovative approaches to national partnership working with looked after children and young people and adult care leavers in the development of services to address their individual needs
  • Promoting transparency, openness and accountability of public services to both groups in view of the overwhelming impact of such services on their life chances and quality of life
  • Providing training and information on about the needs of looked after children and young people and adult care leavers about their emotional well-being and how this is impacted by the process of accessing their file(s)
  • Ensuring user led perspectives are central to policy developments and implementation

Breakdown of our Work


  • Lobbying
  • Rule/Law Change
  • Training
  • Records Guidance
  • Research