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who for four years had given all her spare time and money to the care of one dying girl after another, until she was enabled, by the help of friends for whom she worked, to open the Channing Home, which from that time to this (now long after her death) has been a refuge for poor consumptive girls and crippled women.
Reformatories for women are, strangely enough, often established by men.
It would seem as if no work could be more appropriate to women, and as if there were no field which they should more quickly have occupied entirely to the exclusion of men ; but although there are a number of such institutions for both girls and women in different parts of the country, to whose management good women have devoted themselves, there is still room for many more, in which women (especially young women) who are a danger to themselves and others, ought to be shut away from temptation and the opportunity to tempt.
Women's work in hospitals and in care for the sick is to be treated elsewhere in this book.
The Homes for children, which abound in almost every part of the country, have all had their growth in less than ninety years, the very first one established being the Boston Female Asylum, opened in 1800, and incorporated in 1803, established by women whose granddaughters and great-granddaughters are now numbered among the managers.
There is a great deal of devoted, earnest work given both by the outside Boards who control these Homes and by the officers who take the daily care of the thousands of children in them ; there is the wish to do real good, and, especially among the Sisterhoods, whose whole lives are given up to the work of ministering to these children, there is often absolute self-sacrifice; but it is too frequently open to question whether the real benefit done is equal to the benevolence which prompts the doing. In these institutions the children are generally treated kindly, but the managers, unfortunately, too often fail to see the bad effects of the institution life both upon the child and upon society as a whole; and, though they may suspect their existence, they usually feel helpless to remedy these evils, scarcely having courage to enter on new ways of caring for their charges.
One institution, which for thirty-one years had continued in the old way, was closed under circumstances most creditable to the managers, and the history of the Union Temporary Home of Philadelphia deserves a place in this article as an example to the management of other similar institutions.
At the thirty-first annual meeting in January, 1887, the following resolution was adopted :
Resolved, That in the judgment of this meeting it is advisable that our building be closed at an early day ; that all our property be converted into an income-bearing fund ; that under the direction of a special executive committee chosen from the Council, or the Board of Managers, or both, said income shall be applied, acco to the declared object of our constitution, in paying for the temporary board and care of “children of the poor ;” that the term “Home be construed to include any house or household in which such children are placed ; and that the machinery of the Children's Aid Society be used for obtaining, investigating, and supervising such boardinghomes ; that all the rights of parents be duly respected, and they still be held to pay a share, wherever practicable ; and that our Board of Managers, or such committees as they may appoint, represent this corporation in carrying out these arrangements, and in the performances of whatever duties may be required to secure the execution of our trust and the welfare of the children.
Some of the reasons for this action are given in the following extracts from a paper submitted by the managers to the meeting :
In taking action which looks toward co-operation with another body, we have been moved by considerations which affect profoundly three interests : (1) Those of the parents and guardians of the children admitted to the Home ; (2) those of the public which is asked to give it support; (3) most of all, those of the children.
1. Since the Home was started, thirty years ago, the population of Philadelphia has increased from about 500,000 to nearly 1,000,000. In such a vast and dense mass of human beings, personal relations between giver and receiver have become more difficult, and the indiscriminate charity which encourages pauperism has been a cause of growing concern. A habit of dependence, which takes advantage of every opportunity to live by public or private charity, is widespread ; and the growth of false, communistic views makes necessary more guarded methods than those which may serve in smaller communities, with simpler social conditions.
The history of our own institution, as the managers well know, shows a constant pressure for the admission of children whose parents are able to support them. but are naturally disposed to do this at the lowest possible cost, and that we have also been furnishing easy facilities for those who desire, for selfish reasons, to rid themselves of the presence and care of their little ones. The charitable feature of the institution, or the fact that a part of the expense is borne by our contributors, is disguised by the fact that we are accustomed to charge $1.25 to $1.50 a week for each child, so that the institution is regarded by such parents simply as a cheap boarding-house for children. We believe that many, who could themselves bear the entire cost with no serious hardship, are tempted to magnify their own disability by the fatal facilities afforded by a well-meant charity. Some of this class are doubtless in need of help, but it should not come in this delusive form. They may want friendly counsel and wise direction in finding suitable homes; and they may sometimes be assisted by kindly oversight of these homes and of their children. It is in our power to secure for them these advantages, with added pecuniary assistance where
needed, by utilizing the methods of the Children's Aid Society, which is also a Bureau of Information.
III. The most important consideration relates to the children. No mere saving of money would justify a change which threatened injury to the least of these little ones. But a majority of the managers are convinced, by observation and experience, that life in the average institution is not so good for children as life in the average household. None can realize that so fully as those who are best acquainted with the inner workings and vicissitudes of child-caring institutions. We have sought to guard our children from the worst effects by providing a kindergarten for the younger ones, and by sending the elder to the public schools; and they have enjoyed the care and kindness of an exceptionally competent and faithful matron; but the total result has compelled us to the same conclusion with many tried workers in charity,-viz.: that the children can best be fitted for the life they must live in the world by being placed in good families.
The testimony of two gentlemen on our Board of Council, both experienced as heads of great industrial enterprises, is that institution boys are generally the least desirable apprentices. They have been dulled in faculty by not having been daily exercised in the use of themselves in small ways. have had all particulars of life arranged for them, and, as a consequence, they wait for some one else to arrange every piece of work, and are never ready for emergencies or able to “ take hold.
One great evil of institutions for children is quite overlooked—the effect on the parents of relieving them of the care of their children,-because the attention of the managers is almost exclusively devoted to the care of the children while in the institution ; they do not think it part of their duty to study the family from which the child was taken, or the influences which surrounded it before it came under their charge; nor do they, with rare exceptions, follow the children's lives with any systematic care after they leave them. They thus know nothing of the results of their own work, and may be doing great evil, where they wish only to do good.
In Dorchester, Mass., there is a small “ Industrial School for Girls," which seems to be especially distinguished from most other Homes of the kind, by the thorough and systematic manner in which the chiidren who have left the school are watched over. Besides the standing committee on "placing out," which is required to report to the managers once in three months concerning the girls under its charge (those who, having been fitted in the school for household work, have been put into places to earn their living), a "Committee on Friendly Guardianship” has been created, whose duties are thus described in the report of the school for the year 1887: “To keep a list of all girls leaving the school, who, through the expiration of the papers placing them under our care, are no longer formally
wards of the school; to keep up a knowledge of these girls and to report concerning their welfare twice a year, such report to be added to the secretary's records. The term Friendly Guardianship is used to distinguish this oversight, which does not carry with it any formal authority, from the usual school guardianship of girls who are placed under our care for a period beyond that passed at school, and which is recognized as authoritative by the girls themselves and by their relatives, if they have any."
In the report for 1888, it is stated that there are thirty-four girls under direct school guardianship, thirty-five under the charge of the Friendly Guardianship Committee, and an account is given of the present condition of fifty-eight earlier school graduates. The following reflection, found in the report, applies equally to other institutions of the same character :
The expense of caring for a child at the Industrial School is large as compared with the cost of boarding in a private family, and this expense can only be justified by keeping up a high standard in the school, and by adding a large amount of personal work outside and beyond the school for the girls who have gone out from it.”
Another Boston society (in whose establishment and management women have always had a large part) is also distinguished for the continued oversight of its charges after they have quitted the institutions it has established. The Boston Children's Aid Society maintains three distinct farm schools for boys, in each of which a small number of boys (it is the intention never to have more than thirty in any one school) are under the care of a farmer and his wife, who teach them to work, while they receive a common school education from a teacher in the house. The majority of the boys, when received, are either under arrest, or are threatened with arrest, and they are committed to the care of the society for reformation. After such a term of training, as seems needed in each case, the boys are generally sent to work in the country, and a paid agent (a lady) has the oversight of them, writing to them and visiting them. For the boys who have returned to Boston, a club has been formed “to afford opportunities for studying the careers of the boys, noting their progress, learning the plans of such as had plans, and stimulating those who had none to form them, and in general arousing the boys to a livelier sense of their duties and opportunities.”
The Boston Children's Aid Society has also a certain number
of girls under its care, either at work or boarded in private families. The aim of the society is to put the children in its charge into private families as soon as they are fitted for such a life, and it had in 1888 more children outside its farm schools than in them to take care of.
We have so far been speaking of people living in institutions, living, that is, under unnatural conditions, uprooted, as it were, from their own place in life, and set in artificial surroundings. There are a third and fourth class still to consider.
III. The third class are those who neither support themselves entirely in self-respecting independence, nor are subject to the discipline of an institution, those who are constantly being tempted to depend upon others, to think their circumstances too hard for them, to regard as unattainable the heights of self-support which the mass of mankind reach,—the weak, the inefficient, the unwise, the self-indulgent,-in a word, those who are unequal to the demands of life. They need all the "help" they can get, but not of the kind which is usually given to them, not that which enervates them, which encourages all their weaknesses, which makes the dependent more dependent, the inefficient more inefficient, the self-indulgent more selfindulgent. They need real help, help to stand upon their own feet, help to respect themselves, help to play their part in life with energy and intelligence, help to be men and women, strong, self-dependent, ready to help others.
The “ relief” which is poured out indiscriminately simply serves to check their efforts at self-support, and to turn all their energies to the pursuit of more “relief.” It is not that they are different from other people ; no human being will put forth greater exertion to sustain himself in the way he likes than is required for that purpose. No man will devote mo time or more labor than is necessary to maintain himself and his family at his own standard. If his standard is so low that what comes to him in “relief” is enough for him, why should he spend time and strength in getting more? But if his standard is so low, then the help he needs is that which will raise his standard, but not his standard of physical life only ; far more important is it to raise his moral standard,—to raise his character, so that degrading surroundings cannot be endured, so that they cannot exist.
By the different kinds of "help" offered to those in want, they may be trampled down into the mire and left, body and soul degraded, a curse to themselves and others, or they may be lifted into the healthy, self-respecting life of the men and