This paper explores the history of the rights movement of young people in care in England between 1973 and 2011. It describes the histories of the different groups that made up the movement during this 38‐year period: the Leeds Ad‐Lib group (1973–1975); Who Cares? (1975–1978); the National Association of Young People in Care (1979–1994); Black and In Care (1983–1985); and A National Voice (1998–2011). The narrative includes an analysis of contextual factors and the contribution of these groups in increasing awareness of leaving care policy and practice issues. The article concludes with a discussion of a young person's history of care, including recurring themes relating to young people's transitions to adulthood: their ‘loss’ of family; their disrupted lives in care; their experience of education; leaving care early; and their lack of support into adulthood.