The Commonwealth Fund, Child Guidance, and Psychiatric Social Work in Britain, 1918-1939

by John Stewart

Jan 1, 2004
During and immediately after World War II considerable concern was being expressed in Great Britain about the future psychological development of the nation's children. Explicit links were drawn between what was seen as emotional and psychological deprivation and the emergence of totalitarian regimes such as Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and, increasingly as the Cold War took hold, the Soviet Union. There was, therefore, a perceived relationship between mentally "healthy" children and political and social stability alongside a related emphasis on children's rights, rights which were to be placed in the broader framework of the post-war "welfare state" and the associated concept of social citizenship. It was in this context that I was working on an official Scottish committee -- the Clyde Committee -- which in 1946 was given the task of investigating the condition of homeless children and coming up with suggestions as to better provision for them. The Committee's findings, along with those of its English equivalent, the Curtis Committee, were crucial in determining the shape of one important constituent of the "welfare state," the 1948 Children Act.
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