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The State Charities Aid Association. ventilation bad, and the whole arrangement and equipment unsatisfactory. It is difficult to think of any respect in which the almshouse is what it should be.
The bedrooms and dormitories are littered with the belongings of the inmates. There are only two bath tubs, and the inmates are not forced to bathe regularly. The inmates are obliged to use outside closets at a considerable distance from the buildings. For the women there is a good modern closet indoors, but this is kept locked, and is apparently not used, while the feeble old women are forced to use at all seasons of the year, and both day and night, the old closets at the end of their yard. This is entirely unnecessary and inexcusable.
" It is probably unwise to spend much money repairing these worn-out old buildings, which should be abandoned for a new almshouse. It is difficult to understand how the people of Dutchess county can continue to be satisfied with one of the poorest almshouses to be found in the State. We wish that the people of the neighborhood, many of whom are noted for their public spirit, would disregard the deceptively creditable outward appearance of this institution, and would see from the inside its real condition and needs."
The committee reports that the improvements of the past year include a barn, a granary, and a vegetable cellar. A building for consumptives is being erected in connection with the county hospital. Among the needs are a new morgue, new bathrooms, and better food for the almshouse inmates. Neither the ventilation nor the drainage is what it should be, and the buildings are not kept perfectly clean and orderly. There is much room for improvement at the almshouse. The first and greatest need is that it should be put out of reach of political influence.
Livingston County. The committee reports that the improvements of the past year are new bath-tubs and water-closets. The needs are said to be a hospital for the sick, a steam laundry, and a house for the superintendent and his family.
The almshouse was visited by the assistant secretary, June 15, 1901, iri company with the secretary of the county committee and the chairman of the building committee of the board of supervisors. The institution was found in somewhat better condition than at the time of the visit from the central office four years ago. The appearance of the grounds had been improved by the removal of the sheds and outbuildings. The interior of the buildings had been painted, a concrete floor had been laid in the basement kitchen and dining-room, and modern plumbing had been introduced. None of the radical changes needed have, however, been made, and the necessity for a complete rearrangement of the buildings is still urgent. Happily, this reform is being considered by the board of supervisors. The plans under consideration include building a separate house
The State Charities Aid Association.
on the grounds for the superintendent and his family, and reconstructing the main building for the exclusive use of the men inmates. One of the two buildings formerly used for the insane would then be occupied by the women inmates, and the other would be converted into a suitable hospital for the sick. At present sick men are cared for in a part of the building where there is no water connection, while the sick women are left in their own bedrooms or dormitories. A woman suffering from erysipelas was. found in her bedroom attended by other inmates. A nurse for the sick is. an urgent need. While the changes in the buildings are being made, dining-rooms and sitting-rooms should be provided on the ground floor, so that the use of the basement could be entirely abandoned except for storehouse purposes. Steam hes should ake the place of the toves now in use, and a steam laundry should be arranged for, with spray baths and clothes rooms adjacent. Now that the work of repairing this almshouse has been begun it should be done thoroughly. There is no reason why the institution should not become one of the best almshouses in the State, instead of continuing to be, as it has been for so long a time, one of the poorest both in construction and management.
VISITORS TO STATE CHARITABLE INSTITUTIONS. During the past year the eight institutions of this class for which the association has visitors, have been inspected frequently by the eighteen visitors who have undertaken this important work on behalf of the association, The Craig Colony for epileptics and the Western House of Refuge for Women have also been visited by the assistant secretary, and the Syracuse and Rome institutions have been visited by our able visitors to the State Custodial Asylum for Feeble-Minded Women.
Of the eight State charitable institutions which we are now visiting, four are institutions for the feeble-minded, the epileptic, and the idiotic;. two are reformatories for women, and two are institutions for children. With the exception of the last two these institutions are caring for only a part of those classes for whom they are supposed to make complete provision. This is due in the case of the four institutions for the feebleminded and epileptic, to the failure of the Legislature to make sufficient appropriations for buildings; and in the case of the reformatories for women, to the failure of the courts to commit many who are eligible.
The four institutions for defectives have now a capacity for 2,400 inmates. With buildings now under way or already provided for by appropriations, this capacity will probably be increased in the course of a year by at least 300. In order that these institutions should do their work adequately they should be doubled in size.
An important feature in the management of these institutions is the fixing of rules for the admission, transfer and discharge of inmates. In our report of last year we said, “ It is questionable whether the determination of the eligibility of persons for admission, discharge and transfer, The State Charities Aid Association. should be left to the managers and officers of the institutions, or whether it should not rather be controlled by an authority outside of the institutions whose interest is that of the State at large." As there is no obligation to receive a larger number of inmates than can be accommodated comfortably, the managers are not forced by the pressure of overcrowding to make strenuous efforts to secure appropriations for new buildings. An example of this is the cottage for sixty inmates at the Newark State Custodial Asylum, for which the appropriation was made in 1898, and which was opened for the reception of inmates in October, 1901. If the sixty inmates had been crowded into the institution during this time the authorities would probably have found some way to hasten the work.
At several of the State institutions applications for admission appear to be thrown out, not only because the person is described as “ vicious" or “ troublesome or “bad-tempered,” but often because the application papers are incompletely or inaccurately written. The occasional inability of the superintendent of the poor to make out an application in correct form is not a good reason for denying the benefits of the institution to needy cases. The State hospitals for the insane follow the custom of sending a physician to examine on behalf of the hospital every applicant for admission. Might not some such course be taken by the State charitable institutions with mutual benefit to the institutions and the community? If a central authority examined and passed upon the applications for admission to all these institutions there would not be found, as at present, so many inmates in each institution who properly belong in one of the others, who were either admitted because of misleading statements in the application papers, or have so changed after admission as to become unfit inmates suitable for transfer, but not transferred because of the lack of coöperation between different institutions in this group. The four institutions are so closely related in their work as to be interdependent, and if the needed coöperation among them cannot be secured by voluntary action on the part of the institutions in question, it should be brought about by the external pressure of a central authority,
State Custodial Asylum for Feeble-Minded Women, Newark. Our efficient visitors continue to investigate the institution quarterly and to report regularly to us regarding its condition and needs. Of all the needed improvements mentioned in our report of last year, the only one which appears to have been made is the laying of new floors in the second and third stories of the main building. Retinting the walls and repairing the woodwork has further improved the dormitories and balls in this part of the building.
A new cottage which, by the terms of the contract, was to hare been completed July, 1900, was actually completed July, 1901. Owing to the fact that in some respects the work was not done in accordance with the terms of the contract, the cottage was not opened for the reception The State Charities Aid Association. of inmates until October. The plastering is already cracking. As the appropriation for this cottage was made in 1898, the prolonged delay in building and opening it is discreditable to the managers and the State officials responsible. Unfortunately it is not any of these persons who suffer for this neglect of duty, but the county officials and the community at large, who are not being relieved of the burden of caring for these defectives, as the State laws contemplate that they should be.
A house for the superintendent would probably be provided at less cost than a cottage for inmates, and as the space that could thus be vacated in the main building could be turned into dormitories and dayrooms for the women, an appropriation for this purpose would be of benefit.
An industrial building is also urgently needed. In July, the resident physician, having proved unsatisfactory, was dismissed, and since then a visiting physician from the village has taken charge of the sick. The visitors report the institution to be in its usual excellent condition and ably managed.
PLACING HOMELESS CHILDREN IN FAMILIES.
Our methods of investigating the character and circumstances of families applying for children, and of subsequent oversight through personal visits, correspondence with school teachers, foster parents and others were fully described in our report for 1899, with a detailed statement of several cases, and need not be repeated at length here. The work has been carried on with increasing interest and helpfulness on the part of all branches of the association, with gratifying appreciation and coöperation from public officials and institutions, and with most encouraging results.
The work of the past year may be briefly summarized as follows: Number of children in families under our oversight, October 1, 1900. 110 Placed in homes during the year...
Passed from care during the year:
and able to care for their children...
2 2 15 2
Remaining in families under our oversight, October 1, 1901...
As the work has now been carried on for a period of more than three years, a fuller report of the work during the entire period may be of The State Charities Aid Association. interest. From June 1, 1898, to September 30, 1901, a period of threeyears and four months, we received about 1,000 letters of inquiry from families who were considering the adoption of children. Of this number 609 supplied the information required by our formal application blank.
The results of our investigation of these 609 applications may be summarized as follows: Investigated and approved....
264 Investigated and disapproved.
261 Withdrawn because the families decided not to take children or secured them elsewhere.....
63 Transferred to other societies.
9 Still pending
SUPERVISION OF CHILDREN PLACED OUT BY PUBLIC OFFICIALS. In the counties of Allegany, Lewis, Sullivan, Suffolk and Wyoming, 138 children who have been placed in free family homes by superintendents or overseers of the poor, are under the friendly supervision of members of the association's committees in those counties. In Rockland and Nassau counties 125 children, who are boarded in families by public officials, are visited by members of the association's local committees. In most cases these children have been found to be in good homes, where they are being well cared for, sent regularly to school, and trained to be useful and self-supporting. In the few cases where children have been found in unsuitable homes the facts have been reported to the local officials or to the State Board of Charities, and steps have been taken to secure their removal.
SEVENTH ANNUAL REPORT OF THE AGENCY FOR DEPENDENT CHILDREN OF
NEWBURGII. The Agency for Dependent Children, established in October, 1894, by the Newburgh committee of the State Charities Aid Association, has continued during the past year its oversight of destitute children placed in families by the public and private charities of that city, and the finding of additional free homes in families for children becoming dependent. The average number under its oversight during the year has been more than twice the average number maintained in the City Children's Home. Though these children are in many different places and not known as objects of charity, they are as truly the wards of the city of Newburgh and the city is as responsible for them as it is for the smaller number in the Children's Home. The primary object of this agency is to act for the city in the discharge of its responsibilities for the well being of these children. Besides the children received from the city, a certain number from the Home for the Friendless have been placed in families and a considerable number: