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It is not the object of this paper to define any arbitrary system for restoring children to family life, but rather to outline the salient points of some existing systems.

While the orphan asylums usually find good homes for such children as they place out, complaint is made by some of them of inability to find a sufficient number of such homes. In New York State some superintendents of the poor are able to place all the children coming under their jurisdiction in homes, by adoption or indenture; but so much of the time of these officers is necessarily taken up in the discharge of their regular duties that the placing out of children, which requires time and patience, is not always done with the care that it should be, while the frequent changes in the office of superintendent make it impracticable to maintain a continuous supervision over them. The children placed out by one superintendent rarely receive attention from his successor. Where agents have been employed by county boards of supervisors to do this work, it has proved successful according to the fitness of the agents selected for the peculiar work and the care and conscientiousness exercised in its performance.

In my observations, extending through twenty-three years of official inspection as a State Commissioner of Charities in New York State, I found the wrongs which dependent children suffered from being placed in unsuitable homes, through indifference before placing them and inattention and neglect afterward, to be very great. Legislators and philanthropists, however, are devoting their attention to correcting this evil. In the last session of the New York legislature a bill was introduced, under the auspices of the State Board of Charities, providing that the work of placing out dependent children and supervising them afterward should be governed by rules established by the State Board of Charities. The legislature added a clause to the effect that all dependent children should be placed with foster parents of the same religious faith as the child, and made an infraction of the rules a misdemeanor. The bill was passed by both branches of the legislature, but was opposed before the governor by some of the societies specially engaged in rescuing homeless street children in New York City, because of the impracticability of always finding homes of the religious denominations required. The bill was not approved by the governor, and failed to become a law. As the statutes of New

York now stand, a child committed to an orphan asylum or to a juvenile reformatory shall, when practicable, be sent to such as are controlled by persons of the same religious faith as the parents of the child. When children are adopted from charitable institutions, Chapter 272, section 65, of the Laws of 1896, makes the following provision:

Where an orphan asylum or charitable institution is authorized to place children for adoption, the adoption of every such child shall, when practicable, be given to persons of the same religious faith as the parents of such child.

The subject of State supervision is of such importance that I think it should receive the attention of the legislature of every State, and that a system should be provided regulating the manner in which homeless children shall be placed in families, and providing a method of supervision over them afterward which is not obtrusive or offensive to foster parents who have received children as members of the family, but which is, nevertheless, adequate to afford ample protection to the child.

Massachusetts has a State system, directed by its Board of Lunacy and Charity, which is applicable to State wards having a local settlement, and not under the charge of local authorities. The overseers of cities and towns are required by law to place pauper children over four years of age who are in their charge in some respectable family in the State or in some asylum, to be supported there by the city or town, according to the laws relating to the support of the poor, until they can be otherwise cared for; and the overseers must visit such children personally or by agents at least once in three months. If an overseer fails for.two months to place out any pauper child as required by law, the State Board of Lunacy and Charity assumes the legal powers of overseers, and may place out such child and look after its welfare.

Such dependent and neglected children as are wards of the State and are over three and under twelve years of age come under the supervision of a subdivision of the Department of Indoor Poor. Four women in this subdivision, which is directed by a woman, are charged with the special duty of looking after these children, whether temporarily boarded or permanently placed in families. These visitors assure themselves, by frequent examinations and

correspondence, that the children are properly taken care of, that they attend school, and are treated in every way, as far as practicable, as children of the family. In addition to the four visitors named, one woman, a visitor at large, with two assistants, co-operates with a corps of auxiliary visitors distributed over the State in the placing out of girls over twelve years of age in families and looking after them thereafter. The Department of Indoor Poor also exercises very important functions affecting delinquent children.

The large number of earnest women who are identified with the interests of homeless children under the Massachusetts system makes the work in that State much more effective than it would be otherwise.

In Michigan, children becoming a public charge are generally committed as wards of the State to the State Public School at Coldwater. They may be sent to private asylums, and there maintained, but not at the expense of the public. County superintendents of the poor are authorized to commit children to the State Public School, or they may place them out in families. But, whatever disposition may be made of dependent children, the State, in one sense, extends its protection over all of them, although the supervision of the State Board of Corrections and Charities does not extend to orphan asylums, Houses of the Good Shepherd, and similar institutions. These institutions are not required to make reports to the State Board; and, consequently, the statistics respecting children in institutions are not included in the biennial reports of the board, which practically accounts for the small number frequently reported as being under institutional care in that State. A law for the protection of children in Michigan makes it a misdemeanor, with the penalty of a heavy fine, for any person or institution in the State to place out a dependent child in a home until the home has been examined and a favorable report made of it by one of the county agents. The same law requires that county agents shall visit homes where children are placed, and report to the institution placing them. It also confers the power upon such officers to take children out of homes where they have been placed, if the homes are found unsuitable or the children are not properly cared for, and either place them in other homes or send them to the State Public School. In this institution, which is built upon the


cottage plan, the children are classified on entering; and an effort is made to prepare them as soon as practicable, by suitable instruction and training, for entrance into family homes through a county agency system. The average length of detention is about one year. The county agents are appointed by the governor, one for each of the eighty-five counties in the State. The aim is to select and appoint only such persons as are charitably disposed, and who are capable of acting as safe advisers to parents and guardians of children and to magistrates. The compensation allowed the agents is small. It is the duty of these county agents to co-operate with the Board of Control of the State Public School in finding suitable homes for children that have been committed to the school. ·

The county agents have other important duties to perform. These extend to delinquent children. The statute provides that no child under sixteen years of age shall be sentenced as a criminal unless a full examination or inquiry is previously made by one of the agents as to the environments of the child and the circumstances attending its offence. It is made the duty of the judge to counsel with the agent respecting the child; and the judge may in his discretion direct that it be returned to parents or guardians or friends, or be indentured, or sent to the reform school, or the sentence may be suspended, as may appear for the best interests of the public and of the child. County agents are required to report to the State Board of Corrections and Charities.

The practical operation of the Michigan State system for placing out dependent children is as follows: For general distribution throughout the State the Board of Control issues a pamphlet circular explaining how children may be obtained from the State School, with instructions as to what is required of foster parents after they have taken children. The pamphlet contains a list, with the post-office address, of all the county agents. Persons selecting children, either by a visit to the school or by correspondence, are required to make an application in a prescribed printed form. is sent by the superintendent of the school to the county agent of the county in which the applicant resides, who visits the home of the applicant and reports upon its fitness and the truthfulness of the statements made in the application. If this report is satisfactory, the child is then delivered to the applicant upon sixty days' trial. Notice of the fact is then sent to the county agent. Should

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the child be returned to the school or should he be adopted or indentured, the agent is informed of the action taken.

In addition to the county agents, there is also a State agent under the special direction of the Board of Control of the school. His duty in part is to visit yearly the children placed out, devoting four months to each of the three sections into which the State is divided. The county agent makes a report on the same district for another four months of the year, and the guardian or foster parent makes a report respecting the child for still another four months. In this way each child placed out is heard from through one of these sources once in every four months of the year.

The county agency system of Michigan is held in favor with the Board of Charities of the State, and is certainly doing in connection with the State Public School a far-reaching, thorough, and beneficent work. With some modifications the Michigan system has been adopted by Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Kansas.

In Ohio dependent children reach family homes mainly through the agency of county homes, which are supported by counties and controlled by four trustees, appointed by the county commissioners. The trustees serve without compensation, and not more than two of them can belong to the same political party. The statute also provides for the appointment by the county commissioners of three women as an advisory board, one of whom shall be a member of a humane society, to co-operate with the board of trustees of each home. It is made their duty to visit the children's homes at least once in every three months, and thoroughly examine them and the children inmates; and, if they deem it desirable, they may make written reports and recommendations to the commissioners. It is made the duty also of one or more of them to visit children indentured or otherwise placed out, "as far as practicable," at least once a year, and, in case of maltreatment or insufficient care, to report the same to the trustees of the home, who are authorized by a clause in the indenture papers to remove the child. The duties devolving upon the advisory boards are now generally discharged by county visitors appointed by the State Board of Charities; and the law requiring county commissioners to appoint advisory boards. is practically disregarded.

County boards may employ a paid agent to assist in finding homes for children and visiting them afterward. It is not required

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