This book is a case study of the shifting boundary between family and state in Britain. It will look at the growth of family centres from the mid 1970s onwards in order to describe the processes by which private family responsibilities and public state respon­ sibilities have been realigned and underlined. While this shifting boundary became especially visible during the Conservative (New Right) restructuring of state welfare in the 1980s, I shall show that there is a long British tradition of maintaining a high boundary between the family and the state: state reluctance to share the care of children or other dependent people with their families is not something novel but, rather, is consistent with British attitudes to the family as a domain quite separate from the public. What we see is a case of family and ‘community’ responsibilities being stated more forcibly at a time when local government was being deprived of its powers and resources by a strong central government, which simultaneously promoted the expansion of the voluntary (not-for-profit) and the private (commercial) sectors in social care. I shall be looking, then, not just at New Right social policies but also at Labour Party and Social Democratic policies, at the role and attitudes of the socialwork profession, at the voluntary childcare organizations, and at local authority social services departments in the period 1972 to 1990.