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For nearly half a century, in this and other states, public opinion has demanded that the almshouses be made simply refuges and infirmaries for the aged and infirm poor. The reports to the Board for the fiscal year ending September 30, 1900, indicate that the number of these cases exceeds 600.
Epileptics. 4. According to the latest reports received from the superintendents of the poor, there are now about 500 dependent epileptics, of which number nearly 300 are in county, city and town almshouses, awaiting admission to Craig Colony. No almshouse in this State is properly equipped for the care of epileptics. They should all be provided for in the Colony. This will compel its enlargement. The State Board of Charities is in receipt of petitions and appeals for assistance from the friends of these unfortunate dependents. The public officials in the various counties ask that their counties be relieved of the burden of support, and charitable societies and individuals, interested in the welfare of the unfortunate, beg that something may be done more fully to carry out the purpose of the State to secure to these dependents of the State such humane, scientific, educational and curative treatment as they need.
CHANGES IN THE RULES OF THE BOARD GOVERNING THE
RECEPTION AND RETENTION OF INMATES OF INSTITU
During the year it seemed desirable to the Board to make some changes in the rules for the reception and retention of inmates of institutions wholly or partly under private control, adopted in accordance witb the provisions of the fourteenth section of the eighth article of the Constitution and in the exercise of the authority conferred by chapter 546 of the Laws of 1896.
A practice common to some of the institutions of this nature-of receiving children by voluntary surrender from their parents or guardians, without legal commitment of any kind, and then seeking to make their maintenance at the institution a charge upon the public-has seemed to the Board a most undesirable one, however worthy the motives of those who fol. lowed it. For example, in one very recent case a mother wishing to have her daughter placed under discipline for a time, was able on her own application to have the child received into an institution wholly under private control, without commitment by any public official, for a term of two years, the institution thereupon entering upon its records a prospective charge of $220 against the city of New York, which it now seeks to col. lect through legal proceedings. The Board, believing that public officers are the proper ones to decide whether or not the public is to be charged for the maintenance of children in institutions under private control, has added the following amend. ment, taking effect July 1, 1901, to the rules for the reception and retention of inmates of institutions:
“No child between the ages of two and sixteen years, unless convicted of crime, shall be received into any such institution as a public charge, unless committed thereto, or placed therein, by a court or magistrate having jurisdiction, or by the superintendent of the poor of a county, or overseer of the poor of a town, or commissioner or commissioners of charities, or other local officer or board legally exercising the powers of an overseer in the county, city, town or village sought to be charged with the support of such child, and authorized by law to commit children to such institution or to place them therein."
The special committee of the Board appointed to examine into the reasons for the alleged increase in the number of dependent children in the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx in the city of New York, whose report is included in that of the Board to the Legislature of 1899, after a very careful inquiry into the whole subject, unanimously recommended that the Board's rules
for the retention of inmates be modified so as to provide for reacceptance in writing, based upon an investigation, within one year from the time the child is placed in the institution instead of within thirty days of October 1st of each year. The purpose of this recommended change was to allow the reëxaminations and the reacceptances to be made a few at a time throughout the whole year, instead of requiring them all to be made within thirty days from the 1st of October of each year, which, owing to the limited assistance allowed to most of the poor law officials of the State, was found to be less practicable.
The committee also recommended that each institution receiv. ing destitute children be required to keep a book in which should be entered the names and addresses of those visiting the children, in order to preserve a record which should be useful in making the investigation upon which reacceptances were to be based.
Subdivision 1 of Rule II. was accordingly amended, also to take effect July 1, 1901, as follows:
“1. No child under the age of sixteen years, unless convicted of crime, nor any destitute minor nor adult person, whether committed by any court or magistrate, or otherwise received, shall be retained in any such institution, as a public charge, unless accepted in writing as such by the officer charged with the support and relief of the poor of the county, city, town or village upon which such child or destitute minor or adult person is sought to be made a public charge, subject to such regulations as the Board may from time to time prescribe, and all acceptances so made shall lapse and become void unless renewed in writing within thirty days of the expiration of one year from the time of the first acceptance; said year to date from the period of said acceptance. The reacceptance in writing shall be repeated each year that the inmate remains in the institution and within thirty days of the expiration of each successive year. Every such acceptance or renewal of acceptance, shall be based upon the results of an investigation into the circumstances of the person accepted, and into the circumstances of his parents, relatives or guardians, if there be any. No destitute child shall be retained as a public charge in any institution wholly or partly under private control, which shall fail to keep a book in which shall be entered the name and address of every person visiting such child, supported in whole, or in part, by public funds in such institution, which name and address shall be secured upon such visit."
These amended rules, carefully carried out, should greatly reduce the number of dependent children who are charges upon the various localities throughout the State, as their enforcement has succeeded in reducing the number of those who have been like public charges in the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx in the city of New York.
The following decision was on December 24 last, handed down in the case of the child received by surrender, to which reference is herein before made:
COUNTY OF NEW YORK.
Special Term, Part 1. Before Mr. Justice Clarke. In the mat
ter of the application of the New York Juvenile Asylum for a mandamus.
Rule I, subdivision 4, of the State Board of Charities, which reads:
“The following classes of persons and no others may be received as public charges into charitable
institutions authorized by law to receive payments from any city
for the support, care or maintenance of inmates.
“ Subdivision 4. Persons who have been received into such in. stitutions as under special or existing laws or appropriations are entitled to receive payments of money in gross sum or for specific purposes from any county, city, town or village. No child between the ages of two and sixteen years, unless con. victed of crime, shall be received into any such institution as a public charge, unless committed thereto or placed therein by a court or magistrate having jurisdiction or
by a commissioner of charities
to be charged with the support of such child, and authorized by law to commit children to such institution, or to place them therein," is a valid exercise of the power granted to it by the Constitution, and thereby takes away the right of the New York Juvenile Asylum to require payment for the support of children between the ages of two and sixteen years voluntarily surrendered by their parents or guardians.
Messrs. Goeller, Shaffer & Eisler (Robert Goeller, of counsel), for the New York Juvenile Asylum; John Whalen, corporation counsel (Charles A. O'Neil, of counsel), for the Commissioner of Public Charities; John C. Davies, Attorney-General (Elton D. Warner, of counsel), intervening on behalf of the State Board of Charities.
CLARKE, J. Application for mandamus to compel Commissioner of Public Charities to certify to Comptroller that petitioner has received and retained a certain girl of thirteen years, surrendered to the asylum, by her mother, as ungovernable, in pursuance of the rules and regulations of the State Board of Charities. Without said certificate the Comptroller will not pay to petitioner the amount established by law to be paid for supporting and maintaining her therein as a public charge. It is conceded that she was not received and retained in accord. ance with the rules and regulations of said Board, adopted prior to her reception, and on the 4th day of June, 1901, but petitioner claims the rule violated to be null and void as to it, because, inasmuch as by its charter it was authorized to re. ceive surrendered children, as well as committed, and by lawprior to the adoption of the new Constitution—was authorized to receive for each child surrendered or committed at the rate of $110 a year from the city, its charter could only be amended by the Legislature, which granted it, and that this rule of the State Board of Charities affects, amends or annuls its charter in that regard and takes away a property right. The State Board of Charities is a constitutional body. Its powers and duties are defined by the same instrument which creates the Legislature. It is not an inferior board or body to which the