The history of Coram

Today, the Foundling Hospital continues as the children’s charity Coram, with a mission to improve the lives of the UK’s most vulnerable children and young people.

After 215 years of operation, the Foundling Hospital closed its doors in 1954. After the Second World War, attitudes towards children’s emotional needs changed. The 1948 Children Act placed family care at the centre of public provision for children. In light of this, the Governors of the Foundling Hospital found greater numbers of foster families to care for children and by 1954 all residential provision ceased. Changing its name to become the Thomas Coram Foundation for Children, the charity continued to accept babies, finding foster families to care for them until they could return to their mother, or be adopted (with the mother’s consent) by their foster parents, or remain as a foster child in the guardianship of the Governors. This continued until the 1968 Children Act when the responsibility to care for children who could not live with their birth family passed to local authorities.

In 1971, the charity was registered as an adoption agency, offering a specialist service to find adoptive families for the most vulnerable children. Coram, as it is now known, remains to this day one of the foremost voluntary adoption agencies in the UK, finding and supporting adoptive families to provide stability and the lifetime of love every child needs. At the same time, ongoing support for the last foster children who had not yet reached independence led to the development of education and after care services for young people.

Roots and history are valued at Coram, and the commitment remains to those formerly in their care. Coram continues to support those wishing to access personal information from its extensive archive to better understand the circumstances of their childhood and maintain a relationship with the organisation. The world has changed but too many children are still alone and at risk, marginalised or without a place they can call home.

Coram today

Today, from its original London site, the Coram group of charities continues to create better chances for children, supporting hundreds of thousands of children and parents every year:

• Coram runs one of the UK’s largest and most successful voluntary adoption agencies, finding loving, stable adoptive families for children in care
• Coram changes lives through music and art, using creative therapies to enable vulnerable children to express themselves and make sense of their world
• Through the UK’s leading health and drug education schools’ programme, Coram helps children to make healthy choices about drugs and alcohol
• Coram stands up for children in the legal system and champions the cause of children and young people dependent on the state for support, helping them shape their own lives and hold to account services responsible for their care
• Coram provides supported housing for care leavers and young people facing homelessness, helping them to access education, employment and become financially responsible

Over the years Coram has remained true to its aim of giving the best possible start in life to children with the greatest level of need. To do this, the charity has developed and innovated in response to legislation and the changing circumstances of children’s lives.

Find out more about how Coram continues Thomas Coram’s legacy today at coram.org.uk