Access to records
We can help with personal records and family history information for those who were formerly in our care
You can request information from our records if you previously used one of our projects and services. For example, if you:
- Lived in a care home run by Action for Children (formerly National Children’s Home).
- Were adopted through Action for Children or National Children’s Home.
- Were placed in an Action for Children foster home.
- Were supported through one of our services that is no longer open.
I will never forget the tact and kindness shown by the Action for Children worker.Action for Children service user
What kind of records?
The type of documents that you will be able to access will be different for each person. It will depend on what kind of service you used.
Some of the records you might be able to request include:
- Admission details including information about what led to care.
- Adoption or service referral arrangements.
- Information about birth relatives.
- School and branch reports.
- Progress reports and assessments.
- Letters and correspondence.
It’s rare to find photographs, or details about daily life. Also keep in mind that legally we might not be able to tell you about people who not direct relatives.
In some cases records have been destroyed or damaged by fire or flood, and a small number cannot be located.
Apply for your records
To request your own records, complete the Access to Personal Records form below.
Or use the form for representatives to request information about others. This includes if you’re acting on behalf of a child under 12.
Email us your completed form and the required identification.
If your relative used to be in our care and has now passed away, you can ask us to search our database. There’s a £15 non-refundable charge for this.
As a small service, we have to prioritise requests from individual users. It can take up to three months to reply to family history requests, sometimes longer at busy times.
You must be a direct relative or have permission from a direct relative to access their information.
If your relative is on our database, you can choose to request further files. Download the factsheet below to see which option is right for you, and how much it costs.
If you had an unhappy experience
Most people formerly in our care have had happy experiences. If your childhood experiences were painful, traumatic or unhappy, we would like you to tell us.
We’re committed to supporting anyone who has experienced abuse. This includes adults who suffered as a result of child migration.
We’ll use your data to search for the records you request, and to monitor and improve our service.
We destroy your identity documents once we’ve completed your request. And we won’t share your data with others, unless we have to by law.
The law decides how long we have to keep other information related to your request. For residential care files, it’s 75 years from date of birth. It’s 100 years for adoption files.