Genealogy service

Action for Children (previously known as NCH or National Children’s Home) has been involved in the care of many thousands of children for all or part of their early lives, whether it be through adoption, placement in a residential home or as part of the child migration scheme to Canada and Australia. Some of the records we hold go as far back as 1869.

While we do not have a legal obligation to provide family history information to relatives and descendants, we do understand the great interest and value these records hold - particularly for those descendants whose lives may have been significantly affected by separation and loss.

We focus our limited resources on statutory requests from personal users, and therefore applications for family history requests can take up to three months to respond to, and longer during busier periods.

Re: Intermediary Services (including requests for Genealogy information) for Relatives and Descendants of Adopted People who were adopted before 30 December 2005. Please contact the Access to Records Service direct for separate advice as this area of work is covered by specific regulations.

If you would like to proceed with our genealogy service, below are some important points you should consider first.


We collect and store data in accordance with the Data Protection Act (1998), which means we can only disclose information to the person who is the subject of the records.

If you are not the subject of the records you will need to gain signed consent from either the person named in the records, or their nearest surviving relative if the person named is deceased.

If you are not a direct descendant, but are a distant relative and do not have the permission of the next of kin, or a copy of the relevant death certificate, we ask that you evidence how you are related to the relative for whom you are seeking information, in addition to providing the self-identification documents listed on this page. For these types of enquiries, we are only able to offer Option 1 (£45) and supply basic details as found on the application form.

Sharing information

We can share information with you about your relative if you produce relevant identification documents including your relative’s death certificate.

We cannot include any information about their siblings who may have come into our care at the same time, unless their consent has been gained or the consent of their nearest surviving relative.

Good to know...

Individual files may contain varying amounts of information and, particularly in the case of older records, there may only be a few fragile sheets of paper on file.

Very rarely our files may contain photographs.

In the main our files were used for storing correspondence rather than running records. Therefore it may be difficult for us to provide a comprehensive chronology or answer specific questions.

Database search

If you believe your relative was in our care during their childhood we can check our database. If you know the name of the home they were in, you can refer to our list of former homes to check if it was run by Action for Children (NCH).

Simply fill in our genealogy service form and return it to us to do a database search. There is a non-refundable charge of £15 for this.

If we manage to find who you are looking for on our database, you can choose from the following two options:

Option 1 - obtain the Admission Application Form

We can order the file from our archive and give you a single copy of the Admission Application Form, which contains details of the reason for admission and normally contains brief details of the family composition.

We will also provide archive information about the home your relative lived in where this is available.

The cost for this is £45 and ID and consent is required.

Option 2 - obtain all available records

We can order the file from our archive and supply you with copies of any available records.

This may include:

  • The Admission Application Form;
  • Correspondence;
  • Placement history;
  • Education and employment details;
  • Progress reports;
  • Archive information about the home your relative lived in;
  • A copy of our Archive Centenary booklet.

The cost for this is £125 and ID and consent is required.

Our charges for this service cover costs to carry out the following: archive retention, secure file retrieval and return, file preparation, photocopying, correspondence, and postage for information sent out by recorded delivery.

In the event of a file being lost or missing, we will return your payment.

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