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THE TWENTY-EIGHTH NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF CHARITIES
The twenty-eighth National Conference of Charities and Corrections with Mr. John M. Glenn, of Baltimore, President, was held at Washington, D. C., May 9 to 15. Over six hundred registered delegates were present, and the sessions of the conference were attended also by many of the residents of Washington and vicinity. Altogether the meeting was a pleasant and a profitable
Some of the subjects considered by the conference were: ' Destitute and Neglected Children,” “Legislation Concerning Charities,” “ The Insane,” “ Division of Work Between Publio and Private Charities,” “Needy Families in Their Homes," "The Care of the Feeble-Minded and the Epileptic,” “ Reformatories and Industrial Schools,” and “ Treatment of the Criminal.”
A committee was appointed to coöperate with the Director of the United States Census in securing an amendment to the law which will permit the Census Bureau to collect throughout the United States uniform statistics with relation to dependency and crime.
This Board was represented at the conference by President William R. Stewart; Secretary Robert W. Hebberd; Superintendent of State and Alien Poor Byron M. Child, and Inspector Robert W. Hill. The delegates from the public and the private
charities of New York State in attendance at the conference
The next conference is to meet in Detroit in May, 1902, with Hon. Timothy Nicholson of Richmond, Indiana, a member of the Board of State Charities, President.
THE STATE CHARITIES AID ASSOCIATION.
In compliance with chapter 546 of the Laws of 1896 the State Charities Aid Association-a voluntary association among whose objects are the visitation and improvement of charitable institutions maintained by the State, or by cities, counties, or towns, and placing destitute children in families—has submitted to the Board its twenty-ninth annual report, covering its work for the year ending September 30, 1901. The year's work is summarized in the report as follows:
1. The Association has maintained through its local committees, and from the central office, a visitation of the almshouses and public hospitals in forty-seven of the sixty-one counties of the State, including the frequent inspection of all the numerous institutions in the Department of Public Charities in New York city.
2. It has inspected eight State charitable institutions, through its eighteen local visitors.
3. It has appeared through its county committees before several county boards of supervisors, and before the board of estimate and apportionment in New York city, to state the needs of and to urge proper appropriations for public charitable institutions.
4. It has examined carefully all proposed legislation relating to charities, taking an active part by correspondence or by appearing before legislative committees, in furthering desirable measures, and in opposing several that were deemed to be detrimental to the public interest and to the welfare of the poor.
5. It has found permanent free homes in carefully selected families for seventy-two destitute children, nearly all of whom were received from public officials or institutions, and has exercised a careful supervision over these children, as well as over those placed out during the preceding two years and a half, a total of 182 being under oversight during the year.
6. It has maintained an oversight over dependent children placed out or boarded out in families by public officials in Queens, Nassau, Rockland, Richmond, Allegany, Lewis, Suffolk, Sullivan and Wyoming counties.
7. In many other ways it has labored for a wiser and more humane management of public charities through the development of an informed public sentiment, and through coöperation with public officials.
These results have been secured through the interest and coöperation of about one thousand volunteer workers residing in all parts of the State, with such paid service at the central office as has been necessary to give unity and continuity to the work.
The State Charities Aid Association. In addition to the above, and supported by separate funds, are the following branches:
1. Committee on providing situations in the country for destitute mothers with infants, which secured 441 situations for homeless women with their babies during the year.
2. Newburgh Agency for Dependent Children, maintained by our committee in the city of Newburgh, which visited and maintained an effective oversight over 77 destitute children from that city placed in families, placed 11 children in carefully selected free permanent homes, and investigated 27 applications for the admission of children to the Children's Home.
3. Columbia County Agency for Dependent Children, which assists the superintendent of the poor of Columbia county in the investigation of the circumstances of children who are or are sought to be made a charge on the county. As a result of the work of this agency the number of children maintained by the county in private institutions has been reduced from 98 at the beginning of the year to 62 at the end of the year.
4. Joint committee (A. I. C. P. and s. C. A. A.) on the care of motherless infants, which, in coöperation with the Department of Public Charities, had under its care 99 motherless babies, received from Bellevue Hospital and the Kings County Hospital. Of these 99 babies, 43 were placed in permanent free homes for adoption during the year. The mortality rate among the foundlings has been reduced from an appallingly high rate to 17 per cent. among those under the care of the committee during the past year.
In all, 1,063 children placed in families, or with their mothers in situations, were under the oversight of the various branches and committees of the association on October 1, 1901. If these children were collected in one institution, the expenditure for site and buildings would certainly be at least $500,000, and the annual expenditure for maintenance not less than $100,000. Under the present plan there has been no expense for land or buildings, and only a few thousand dollars per year for placing out and subsequent supervision. The superior advantages of family life for these younger children are not less marked, and are far more important to the community than the incidental economy of the plan.
COUNTY VISITING COMMITTEES. Forty-five of the association's 50 county committees have sent to the central office reports of their work during the past year. Nearly 300 visits have been made by members of these committees to 45 almshouses. This does not include the very large number of visits made by the members of the New York, Kings and Richmond county committees to public charitable institutions in New York city. Committees have been organized in the counties of Schoharie, Sullivan, Niagara, Wyoming, Clinton and Madison. Two of these, Clinton and Wyoming, are counties in which The State Charities Aid Association. the association has never before had committees. There are still five counties containing public charitable institutions where the association has no committee, and it is hoped that during the coming year committees will be organized in as many as possible of these counties, and that other committees which have fallen into partial inactivity will be reorganized. During the year the assistant secretary has visited the almshouses in the following 17 counties: Broome, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chenango, Clinton, Columbia, Cortland, Herkimer, Livingston, Montgomery, Tompkins, Niagara, Orleans, Sullivan, Warren, Wayne and Wyoming Committee meetings have been attended by the assistant secretary in the following 11 counties: Columbia, Herkimer, Livingston, Montgomery, Nassau, Rensselaer, Rockland, Tompkins, Ulster, Wayne and Westchester.
There can be little doubt that the almshouses all over the State have improved very markedly during the past few years. Eight years ago our report stated that “As a result of the visitation of all the county poorhouses and city almshouses, 62 in number, it may be said that the general condition of 38 is very good, of 16 moderately good, and that eight are so far below the present standard of efficiency in administration that their condition must be pronounced unsatisfactory.” It is interesting to note that of the eight unsatisfactory almshouses one has been abandoned, one is being now replaced by a new institution, five are now in good condition and well managed, and only one of the eight is still unsatisfactory. Even in this case improvements will probably be made before long in accordance with promises made by the county board of supervisors to our local committee.
The defects of most of the almshouses seldom include overcrowding, which if present would exaggerate unhygienic conditions. Most of the almshouses have accommodations which are sufficient in quantity if not always satisfactory in quality. This is largely due to the fact that the almshouse population of the State is practically stationary. Dependents, defectives and delinquents are increasing, in some cases at a rate greater than the rate of increase in the general population, but owing to the gradual removal of certain of these classes from county to State institutions, the almshouse population is actually on the decrease. As an example of this, we may mention that in the case of 40 of the almshouses in this State, regarding which we have secured complete statistical returns both this year and five years ago, we found that while their total population on October 1, 1896, was 4,133, their census on October 1, 1901, is 3,965. Twenty-five years ago only about 10 per cent. of the State dependents, exclusive of the insane, were in State institutions. Now fully 30 per cent. are cared for by the State.
It is a noticeable fact that with few exceptions the best almshouses in the State are those where the keeper and matron have held office for the longest terms. At the Madison county almshouse the same man has
The State Charities Aid Association. acted as superintendent and keeper for 32 years; at the Oswego city almshouse the keeper has served for 21 years; at the Jefferson and Chautauqua county almshouses for 18 years; at the Suffolk county almshouse,
These almshouses have few equals in the State, and they are examples of the advantages that would follow the elimination of these positions from the influence of partisan considerations and their instatement in the civil service as positions where the qualifications for office are efficiency, fidelity and experience. To influence public opinion to tbis end might well be regarded as a part of the duty of our members in all sections of the State.
For many years we have been urging improvement in the care and accommodations of the sick, and from year to year have noted with satisfaction the steady though slow progress towards reform in this department. We have spoken with gratification of the erection of separate hospital buildings on almshouse grounds and the rearrangement and equipment for hospital uses of the buildings formerly used for other purposes. We wish to call attention to the fact that the setting apart of such rooms or buildings is not sufficient, that unless proper care is furnished, proper accommodation is of minor importance. A hospital where the sick are cared for by fellow-inmates under the occasional supervision of an over-worked matron, is not a hospital in any real sense of the term. In some cases it has been found that almshouse hospitals were not used for the sick on account of lack of nurses, but were filled with inmates who, though infirm, were considered able to care for themselves and one another; while those really ill were detained in their own rooms where the matron or attendants could more conveniently look after them. This is the case in Wayne county, where the association has long prided itself on having secured a cottage hospital, built on plans furnished by the association. Excluding Erie county, there are only five trained nurses employed at the ten county almshouses which have separate hospital buildings. These are at the hospitals in Broome, Niagara, Onondaga, Rensselaer and Westchester counties. At the almshouse hospitals in Chautauqua, Columbia, Steuben, Suffolk and Wayne counties the sick are cared for by untrained attendants or fellow-inmates.
As no improvements have been made during the past year, conditions at the county almshouse continue to be markedly unsatisfactory. The keeper and matron are the only paid employes, and on October 1, 1901, there were 108 inmates. This is at the ratio of one employe to 54 inmates. The average ratio of employes to inmates in other county almshouses is about 1 to 15. In our last year's report we described the almshouse in part as follows:
“The exterior of the buildings is very presentable, but inside they are worn out. The walls are cracked, the floors and staircases worn, the