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those whose duty it is to support history of the past, our combined and them. We recommend, also, greater persistent efforts can not fail to uniformity in dealing with children bring forth the results we so earnthroughout the state, especially the estly desire. establishment of children's courts, particularly in large cities, that
WHAT BROUGHT ABOUT THE NEW YORK SYSthese children may, as much as pos
TEM OF CARING FOR DEPENDENT CHILsible, be removed from object les
DREN? DO THESE REASONS FOR THE SYS
TEM STILL EXIST ? sons in penology, and from contact with crime. We believe the family is the most
A paper on the subject stated natural place for the child, and that
above was presented at the New the most natural family is its own. It York State Conference of Charities takes a great deal of acquired love and Correction by Mr. Homer Folks, to equal that which springs spon
secretary of the State Charities Aid taneously from blood relations. In our search for better methods, we
Association, New York. Mr. Folks
said in part: must guard against ideals, in the sense of wholly impractical theories, The subject which has been aswhich could be carried out only signed to me assumes that there is a under conditions which nowhere system of caring for dependent chilexist.
dren in this state, and that it differs I am satisfied that there will be from those of other states to such an less disagreement about method extent that it may be called disamong all earnest people working tinctively "The New York System.” for the welfare of the children, if A fundamental principle of the New the religious rights of the children York system, in my opinion, is that and the natural rights of their of supporting children who are pubparents and relatives are respected lic charges, in institutions under the and secured. The majority of peo
control of private corporations. ple engaged in child-saving work Michigan led the way in the adopare, I think, convinced that it is for tion of a radically different system, the best interest of all concerned to —that in which the state cares for maintain the religious rights secured all children who are public charges. by the constitution of the state and collecting them into one central innation and to take religion into ac stitution and placing them as rapidly count in all reformatory work. as possible, through state agencies,
Another noteworthy fact in the his- in free permanent homes in families. tory of child saving is that near With some modifications this plan ly all the great improvements were has been adopted by nine other states. effected through private societies, In three other states, -Ohio, Conassociations, or institutions, or at necticut, and Indiana,—destitute their urgent request. This is par children are supported by counties ticularly encouraging to us, the in public institutions under the conrepresentatives of so many charita trol of county officials. ·Massachuble interests united in a common setts has a state system, but has subcause—the good of our dependent stituted the temporary boarding-out children—and, if we may trust the plan for the central temporary insti
tution, but as in the Michigan sys- 1875 the law was passed requiring tem, the placing of children in free the removal of children from almspermanent homes as soon as possible houses to families or institutions. is the object in view. Radically It is easy also to trace the approdiffering from all of these is the priations from local treasuries. The New York system, in vogue also in local appropriations increased even California, Maryland, the District more rapidly than the state approof Columbia, and, to some slight ex- priations had done. tent, in some other states. Under If we look underneath the surface, this plan the children are placed in however, and ask why did New York private institutions and are paid for, adopt this system, we do not find the so long as they remain there, by an answer easy. The causes were many; allowance from the public treasury. among the leading ones were the Formerly it was in fact, as well as in following: name, a subsidy system, the pay
I. The orphan asylums were, ments of public funds having little relation to the number of children or
many of them, in existence, and it inthe cost of their support. More re
volved a minimum of change to simcently, however, these payments have ply send the children from the alms
houses to the asylum, and pay a modvery generally been made on a per capita basis.
erate amount per week for their supIn asking what brought about the port. The reform moved along the
lines of least resistance. New York system, it is natural to ask when it was established, but the
2. Public care of children had alanswer is not easy. The beginnings ways been associated with almshouse of the subsidy system date back to care, which had come to be a syno1811, only four years after the es
nym for neglect and abuses. The tablishment of the first orphan asy
reaction from these evils which lum in the state. The New York
cried aloud for redress, naturally led system was never adopted, it grew;
to the abandonment of practically all not indeed, like Topsy, for it was public agencies for the care of chilcarefully tended; rather like the
dren. famous bean stalk of nursery fame, 3. New Yorkers have always “And it grew, and it grew, AND IT
feared and distrusted government. GREW.” It is easy to tell how it They have been keenly aware of the grew; it is not so easy to tell why. evils of paternalism and have had It is not difficult to trace the state ap- always before them the awful results propriations to orphan asylums, be- of the spoils system. It is extremely ginning in 1811 with an appropria- doubtful whether in any other city tion of $500 annually to the New in the United States the Ramapo York Orphan Asylum. The num water contract would have been even ber of institutions aided and the total proposed. And lately it has reamounts granted reached a total of mained for New York to develop $50,000 in 1857, and $910,000 in that anomaly, known as a subor1872. They
then ended dinate governmental agency. In that abruptly by an amendment to the particular aspect and capacity it has state constitution, adopted in 1874, no existence elsewhere, though simiprohibiting such appropriations. In lar charitable societies do similar
work in all large cities and states in ject to revision, it would be in subthe Union.
stance this,—that the New York sys4. The greater number and great tem is, as it were, still on trial; that er divergence of racial and religious having demonstrated some inherent interests here, favors a system of tendencies to undue growth, to too child saving which includes the de much asylum and too little family velopment of institutions strength- care, and to undermining home life, ened from the resources of the public it has, during the past five years or treasury, but working under the more, shown many gratifying eviname and control of organizations dences that it can be successfully rerepresenting the particular elements adjusted and modified so as to of the population-racial, social, or preserve its fundamental principle religious.
and its beneficial features, and to Most of the causes which led to counteract its unfortunate tendenthe adoption of the New York sys cies. The spirit is more than the tem still exist, but I have not in form; the animating purpose more cluded among them the one cause than the method of organization. which alone would be an adequate To attain such a much-to-be-dereason for its continuance; namely, sired result calls upon us all for tolthat it had been conspicuously suc eration, sympathy, fairness, a desire cessful.
to know each other, to understand If the New York system had each other, to appreciate each the proved itself adapted to secure the point of view of the other; it calls highest welfare of the greatest pro for frequent conferences such as this, portion of the children who properly in which we appear, not as chambecome public charges; if it had not pions or vindicators of particular increased unduly the number of de- methods, but as seekers after truth. pendents, nor undermined the selfrespect of parents, nor weakened THE COMMITMENT OF CHILDREN AS family ties, nor strengthened and per
PUBLIC CHARGES. petuated differences of race and
The paper presented by Dr. Will-creed, which in all public matters are best overlooked and forgotten, then,
iam O. Stillman, president of the indeed, its claim to unanimous sup
Mohawk and Hudson River Humane port would be unquestioned. That Society, Albany, gave rise to an able the New York system has failed in discussion. The paper was entitled some of these particulars, notably in “What causes are leading to the increasing the number of dependents commitment and surrender of chiland in weakening family ties, we
dren as a charge upon the public by should all of us admit. As to some
parents or others ? Can
Can any of of the points we might differ; as to
these causes be removed, and if so, others, particularly as to its freedom how?” from the evils attending almshouse The discussion was opened by care, we should all agree that it has Hon. John W. Keller, president of been successful. If we aim to strike the department of public charities, the balance as best we may, admit New York, who spoke in part as folting that it is a judgment based on lows: incomplete data, and, therefore, sub I do not try to fit New York con
ditions to the conditions of other How? I think the answer is to be localities. I know that the con found in part in the establishment ditions of other localities can not be in the city of New York of a court fitted to New York, and, therefore, for the commitment of children. At to-night I shall talk from my own present we commit, for improper standpoint and express the views that guardianship, through the city maghave come to me through studying istrate; by direct surrender to the inthe conditions of my own locality. stitution; and, for destitution, Now the first thing that I am con through the department of public vinced of, is that there is no place charities. There should be some for a child like home; that the best regular and responsible means of institution in the world is not as commitment. In the children's good as a good home. On the other court there should be a record, not hand, a good institution is better only of the commitments, but of than a bad home.
all the antecedent data possible to be First and foremost, in finding a obtained prior to the commitment. home for a child, we must regard the As commissioner of public charireligious principle of the people of ties, I am every day confronted with that child. The best Protestant propositions from people to put their home would not be a good home for children into institutions; and they a Hebrew child and the best Jewish seem to have only this thoughthome would not be a good home for that the institution is a convenience a Catholic child. When we consider to the general public. these things, we find how scarce in The only way is to have a thorthis country are good Jewish homes ough investigation. Don't make the and good Catholic homes, in propor institution worse. Keep it just as tion to the demand for homes for good as it can be, for if a child is to children. And in this we find, also, be admitted into an institution, it the answer of the question, why are should be entitled to all the comfort so many children in institutions in
and all the attention and all the eduthe city and state of New York?
cation it can get out of the instituThere are some abuses. Theytion.
tion. It is bad enough to be in an have always obtained. They still institution without being deprived obtain under the system of admit- of any of the advantages that any inting to these institutions. There stitution has to-day. is no question whatever that the in The retention of children too long formation that men and women can in institutions can be remedied by put their children in these institu- the action of the authorities. The intions has spread about through the vestigation should not end with the community, and that there has been admission of the child. It should be bred a germ of paternalism which kept up throughout the stay of the leads a great mass of people, the child in the institution, so that whenmoment anything interferes with the
ever opportunity may offer to take general movement of the home, to the child out of the institution, that seek to relieve themselves of added
may be done. responsibilities by applying for ad Mr. Keller named as one of the mission to the institutions. This is great causes of poverty and crime, a thing which should be stopped. the condition of the tenement houses
of New York city, and made a plea would not be employed for the purfor more sunlight and air by means pose for which they were intended. of improved construction. To this A number reported having found end he favored revised building laws. that bath tubs in tenement houses
are quite generally used for storage, TENEMENT-HOUSE BATHROOMS.
such as vegetable bins, while some
have found tubs filled with coal. [From the American Contractor. ] The consensus of opinion seems to The habit of bathing is a most
be that bathrooms in apartments commendable one and is deserving occupied by average poor people of every possible encouragement.
would not be very generally emThat dirt is closely allied with vice ployed for bathing purposes, one has been recognized from the most
well-known architect suggesting remote ages, while the connection that a law providing for compulsory between cleanliness and Godliness bathrooms should include their comhas passed into an aphorism. De- pulsory use by tenants. cency and hygiene combine to demand Bathing calls for time, and, when conveniences for bathing on the part it has not become a habit, for someof all people, the poor (for whom thing of an effort; besides, a large these tenements are planned) as well number of persons seem to have a as the rich.
positive aversion to water, whether Bathing facilities for occupants used externally or internally. Of of tenements is a problem that the replies received some expressed has long vexed architects and the opinion that those disposed to owners. For the most part ten
bathe would employ for that purants demand all "modern con pose cheap portable tubs of tin or veniences” and then relegate the rubber, as is so generally done in bathtub to uses altogether foreign to European and Asiatic countries. that for which it was designed. The and that the general cleanliness of New York. Tenement-House Com the common poor would not suffer mission has recently sent a series of by the absence of fixed bath tubs in questions on the general subject of tenement houses. On the subject tenement-house regulation to a large of closets, all agree that they are, for number of persons, including archi many considerations, indispensable, tects, physicians, official inspectors, and must be provided in connection and others whose callings and inves with every suite of living rooms. tigations render their opinions of On the other hand, the considerable value.
expense of the plumbing, tubs, and Over one hundred responses sub necessary space, can not but add to mit much of value, the most in the rents exacted. Thus the tenant teresting feature discussed being is forced to pay for something that he that of bath tubs in tene does not use, and, in an effort to best ments. · Wide difference of opin- utilize that for which he pays, he ion was manifested. some
employs the bath room for purposes perts declaring in favor of bath that tend to destroy its value. Thus, rooms in connection with each suite both tenant and landlord are losers. of rooms, others saying that if bath A remedy for the difficulty may tubs were generally provided they be found in a well arranged system