Charles Richmond Henderson.

Modern methods of charity; an account of the systems of relief, public and private, in the principal countries having modern methods online

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Online LibraryCharles Richmond HendersonModern methods of charity; an account of the systems of relief, public and private, in the principal countries having modern methods → online text (page 50 of 73)
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tempt to care for a great number of infants are not advisable.
The ideal method at present calls for a small hospital for the
temporary shelter of the children. Then in cases where it is
impossible to bring either parent to the sense of their responsi-
bilities or to arouse parental affection the child should be placed
in a home where it can receive good, motherly care. Experience
has shown that as a rule the children should not at once be
placed out for adoption, but wherever placed should be under the
supervision and medical care of a hospital.

Partial Care: Day Nurseries. — The day nursery began as a place
where mothers might leave their babies while they went out to
work. Its usefulness has broadened until it has become a train-
ing school for the little men and women to come. It has games
for the children to direct their thoughts. It is forming their
habits and making them lovers of cleanliness. That it might not
rob the parents of their sense of responsibility in the care of the
child it has strictly provided that its benefits shall be only for the
working people unable to provide for their children and for work-
ing mothers, preference being given to widows. That it may
reach only these people careful records are kept and investiga-
tions often in cooperation with the associated charities are made
before the children are received.

For the successful carrying out of its purpose the nursery


itself needs careful supervision. Regulations need to be adopted
and faithfully followed by every nursery, limiting the number of
children to be admitted, requiring the use of iron beds and wire
mattresses covered with blankets. Due consideration must be
given to ventilation of the room ; the outside garments of the
children should be fumigated daily ; children who have come from
quarters infected with contagious disease should not be admitted,
or should be confined in separate rooms ; a regular physician is
needed in daily attendance, or within call; and any child show-
ing any unusual symptoms should be isolated until its case can
be decided upon.

The working of an ideal nursery is given in a report of the
Virginia Day Nursery of New York. At this nursery at the
nominal charge of 5c a day children under seven years may be
cared for, receiving two meals a day, and in addition, a phy-
sician's supervision, physical care, kindergarten instruction,
amusement and the opportunity for sleep and rest. There are
two play rooms on the roof, one enclosed and one shaded by an
awning. The construction and appointments of the building are
in keeping with modern, scientific and hygienic requirements.
The house has beds and swinging cribs for seventy-five children,
three bath rooms, rooms for the matron and attendants, and iso-
lation rooms for use in sickness, dining-room, kitchen and laun-
dry. Mothers' meetings are held at the nursery with instruction
on sanitary topics, and in cooking, sewing and the care of the
home and children. The work of the nursery is reaching more
and more into the crowded tenement house sections in the

Federations of day nurseries are being formed, with encour-
aging results. The object of these federations, as stated by the
New York Association, is "to benefit by conference the work
done by the nurseries, the extension of the work into the needy
districts of the city and the encouragement and development of
every feature which shall educate and elevate the beneficiaries."
There is also a general federation of day nurseries whose purpose
is to have a central body uniting all the day nurseries through-
out the United States, so that by united effort the standard of
the day nursery may be raised to a high level.

Kindergartens. — The need of kindergartens among the poor chil-


dren is every day becoming more evident. A worker among the
children has observed that "many poor children of our cities are
living under inhuman conditions. The over-worked mother,
helping in the wage-earning, has little time or desire to make
home what it should be. The child is naturally the sufferer.
Poverty starves the spirit and robs him of his childhood. The
mind of the child should have thoughtful attention and direction.
The kindergarten, with its large airy room, its pictures, grow-
ing plants and happy atmosphere, gives the young human plants
a hardy, eager, vigorous growth. The sense of beauty, harmony
and order found here are in broad contrast with the child's home

A great influence is exerted by the kindergarten on the home.
In the first place, there is a general awakening of the child.
Through its games the social nature is developed, its songs and
plays brighten the home. The mother is reached through the
mothers' meetings, she is benefited by association with the kin-
dergartner, and by instruction in discipline, games, cleanliness,
clothing, etc. The social time that these meetings afford also
means much to her.

School Cliildrcii's Aid. — The work that is being done by the
School Children's Aid Society of Chicago illustrates some of the
work that is being done among the school children. The object
of this society is to enable the children to attend the public
schools comfortably clad, who by reason of poverty or other
causes have been neglected, and who, by the enactment of the
compulsory law, would be forced into school wretchedly clothed.
The society is a voluntary one, being supported by contributions
from the charitable, the contents of globes placed throughout
the city and a Thanksgiving offering of the school children. The
Board of Education assists the society by furnishing a distrib-
uting room, heat, janitor service and the delivery of the cloth-
ing to the respective schools, all orders being given through the
teachers. The sewing is largely contributed by the sewing
societies of the city. Nothing but new clothing is distributed.

Besides distributing clothing the society cooperates with the
Bureau of Charities and Truant Oflficers in placing children in
school who have been deprived of this right by parental greed
or indifference. It also extends its work into the homes of the


children, bringing to the notice of the benevolent associations,
or individuals, many cases of suffering found there.

The health of the school children is also looked after. The
practice of physicians visiting the schools and inspecting the
general health of the children has been in operation for some
time. Recently in New York two trained nurses have been
assigned to the schools in the neglected districts. Their duty is
to treat minor disorders in school and to visit the homes of the
children and instruct their mothers in the treatment, and advise
in the more serious cases. The nurses also distribute leaflets
containing advice to the children about personal cleanliness. To
all children who cannot afford it are furnished soap, towel and
tooth brushes.

Sick and Weak Children. — The work for sick and weak children
has not yet received its due share of attention. It is one branch
of charity which has not been thoroughly organized, but its
work has begun, and organization will undoubtedly follow.
Among its general efforts are the Day or Fresh Air Sanatoriums.
In their tents or houses by the lake or sea they have nursed many
children through the hot summer days. Attendants, physicians
and a corps of nurses, supported by voluntary contributions, have
carried on the work. Cleanliness has been their watchword in
the care of their little patients. For their future protection their
mothers have been given instruction in their care.

But the work of the sanatoriums has not reached as many chil-
dren as it should. Their distance from the crowded tene-
ment districts will always prove a barrier, although transpor-
tation is furnished free. It is hard for the mother to leave home,
or it is almost impossible for a very sick child to make the trip
daily, as most of the sanatoriums are not provided with the equip-
ments for caring for any but day patients. Until such obstacles
have been overcome the possibilities of the work cannot be
realized. When the sanatorium admits day and night patients
a permanent building is necessary. The work is under the di-
rection of a board of managers, with a resident nurse, a physician
and assistants ; an isolation ward for contagious diseases is essen-
tial. There should be ample facilities for bathing, both for the
children and the mothers. Provision is often made for caring
for the sick mother, but unless the mother is sick it is rarely ad-


visable that she should remain with the child. The medicine
chest needs to be well supplied and the linen closet amply stored.
There should be a dining-room, diet kitchen with necessary pro-
vision for the preparation of special foods, such as sterilized milk,

The treatment at the sanatorium should be followed by fre-
quent visits to the home, for the supervision of the child's care
and food. Careful records should be kept. The receiving and
visiting of the children is best accomplished through cooperation
with the Associated Charities, or Children's Aid Societies.

St. John's Guild of New York City has conducted a novel
society which is suggestive of the possibilities of this work.
Under their direction a barge, appropriately named "The Float-
ing Hospital," makes six trips weekly to the lower bay. For ad-
mission to the privileges of the barge, tickets are distributed to
the poor mothers with sick babies or young children by physi-
cians at the city hospitals and dispensaries, or at work among the
poor. Fifteen hundred people are comfortably cared for on each
excursion. A physician from the Board of Health is in attend-
ance and guards against the admission of contagious diseases.
The attendant physician and his staff of trained nurses attend
to the needs of each family group. The "Floating Hospital" is
provided with abundant bathing facilities. A hot meal is served
at noon to the adults and sterilized milk twice daily to the babies.

On Staten Island, the destination of the "Floating Hospital,"
is erected the guild's Seaside Hospital, where the most serious
cases are transferred. Wherever it is possible, the mother re-
mains and assists in nursing the baby. Where she cannot be
spared from home over night season tickets are given good for a
succession of trips.

Indigent Crippled Children. — Humanity and economy are good
grounds for timely care of children who may be made strong and
industrially productive if their defects are early brought under
skillful treatment. Minnesota in 1899 made an arrangement with
the State university and with a hospital for the treatment of
crippled children, and the legislature voted an appropriation of
$10,000 for the purpose. At the beginning of the year, August i,
1899, 28 children were in the hospital. The average cost per
child was $193.56. The results were satisfactory, and the appro-


priation was renewed for 1902-3. The Ohio legislature of 1902
ordered the appointment of a commission to consider this matter.

Seaside and Country Outings. — This work began by taking a few
children to spend the day in the park. Their wild enthusiasm
over the grass and "real trees," and their shouts of joy at the
sight of water revealed to charity workers that what these chil-
dren needed more than an3^thing else was to become acquainted
with nature and have a chance to live in the great "real world,"
a world where their ambitions might have room to develop and
their ideals to broaden. The revelation aroused the determina-
tion to create an opportunity. Kind people were found in the
country who were willing to share for a few weeks the pleasures
of their homes and farm life with the little children from the
crowded city. Where it was impossible to find a sufficient num-
ber of hosts and hostesses, parties of women and children have
been boarded in the country, or, better still, a camp has been
established in the woods or on the shores of some lake.

Under whatever form the summer outings do their work a
careful supervision is necessary. If children are placed in homes,
endeavor is made to select homes to suit the children and the
children the homes. In establishing a camp a site should be
chosen in a beautiful spot in the woods, or on the lake front,
but by all means not in a vacant lot in the residence district. An
ideal camp is equipped with one or more sleeping tents adjoining
a cooking tent. The camp belongs to the children, and in the
camp life each should bear his or her share of the burden, tak-
ing turns in being dish washers, milk boys and camp cleaners.
Much depends upon the play activities of the camp life. The
program of one successful camp reads as follows :

"The morning we spend in rambles about the beautiful coun-
try, studying geological constructions, picking flowers and berries
and chasing rabbits. In the evening the swimming hole is the
center of attraction. Baseball is the boys' chief sport, and the
playing of theatre is one of the girls' favorite pastimes. After
supper we gather on top of the hill for our little vesper service,
where we read or tell stories and sing familiar hymns."

Some of the most commendable branches of the summer out-
ing work has been done among delinquent children. A sum-
mer home is maintained for the inmates of the industrial schools.


These are the children who most need to be reached, and this is
the way to reach them.

City Play Grounds. — Play grounds have been established in be-
half of the children whose only opportunity for play has been
limited to the narrow street or alley. Until a few years ago the
city seemed satisfied with having taken care of these children
during school hours. After school its only care was to hurry
them out in the street, locking the gates behind them to guard
the only patch of green grass the neighborhood possessed. But
the municipality has become awakened to the fact that many of
its little citizens were growing up with a misconception of social
conduct because their opportunities for forming social habits in
play were so meagre. In consequence the school-house gates
now always stand open, so that as within the building the chil-
dren are taught how to know, so without they are taught how to

The city has not been content to convert its school yards into
play grounds, but has utilized for this purpose vacant lots, and
even roofs of buildings in its most populous districts. In Boston,
Philadelphia, New York and Chicago the play grounds have
been well established. New York City has required every new
school building to have an open air play ground attached. The
ideal play ground is equipped with a complete outdoor gym-
nasium and running track, swings, sand bins, shower baths, toilet
rooms, and where possible, a swimming tank. Experienced
teachers are in charge to direct the games. There is also a room
and kindergarten for the little folks.

In winter the play ground sends its devotees to the play room,
where both afternoon and evening the children meet to play
games, to sew or to read. Chicago and several other cities have
tried the successful experiment of flooding the play grounds and
vacant lots for skating rinks. Thus in winter as well as in sum-
mer the children are provided with play grounds which, as Jacob
Riis says, are the "royal paths out of the slums."

Care of the Morally Imperilled Children. — The provisions made
by the States for the care of their morally imperilled children are
very similar. The provision made by Illinois may be taken as
typical. The statutes of this State class these children as neg-
lected and dependent, applying these terms to any child who for


any reason is destitute or homeless, or abandoned and dependent
upon the pubhc for support, or who has not proper parental care
or guardianship, or who habitually begs or receives alms, or is
found living in any house of ill-fame, or with vicious or disrepu-
table persons, or whose home by reason of neglect or depravity
on the part of the parents or guardians is an unfit place for such
child, or who from any cause shall be a wanderer through the
streets and alleys or in public places, and any child under the age
of ten years who is found begging, peddling or selling any article,
or singing or playing any musical instrument upon the street, or
giving any public entertainment, or who accompanies or is in
aid of any person so doing. Such children the State empowers
the court to commit to some suitable State institution, or to the
care of some reputable citizen of good moral character, or to the
care of some training school, or an industrial school as provided
by law, or to the care of some association embracing in its object
the purpose of caring for or obtaining homes for dependent or
neglected children. The court may also, when the health or the
condition of the child so requires it, cause such child to be placed
in a public hospital or institvition for treatment, or special care, or
in a private hospital or institution which will receive it for like
purposes without charge.

Reference has already been made to the State's care of these
children through its probation officers. The weakness and
strength of its institutional provisions have also been considered.
Attention is here called to the inadequate provision made by the
State to carry out the purpose of this law for the treatment of
dependent and neglected children. The law reads, that these
children shall be brought before the court for commitment upon
the petition of a reputable citizen who has knowledge of the de-
pendency or neglect of any child in his county, and is willing to
bring the facts verified by an affidavit before the court, but not
many of the little waifs or newsboys of the great city ever be-
come very intimately acquainted with the reputable people.. For
this reason the State should have its agents at work among these
boys, or it should do its work in cooperation with the child saving
societies of the city.

A plea is made for the extension of State industrial and train-
ing schools for the dependent children separate from such insti-



tutions for juvenile delinquents. The necessity for these schools
is apparent, but they should not be regarded as the only means
of reaching the children. For many children institutional life is
worse than imprisonment. The love of the child for liberty
should not be disregarded, but encouraged. For this reason the
work done by the boys' home and clubs has proved invaluable.
It is this also that places a large part of the dut}^ for the care of
morally imperilled children in the hands of private charity. In-
stitutions, and especially State institutions, with their official
routine cannot reach the child because they are necessarily un-
sympathetic ; it is the sympathy and interest of the superintend-
ent of the home, or the leader of the club that brings out the
manhood of these little people.

The following illustrations show the general scope of work
being done by private organizations among these children, and
suggest possibilities for furthering such undertakings :

Newsboys. — Los Angeles Newsboys' Home supplies the news-
boys of that city with all the luxuries of home life and home coun-
sel. The purpose of the home is to elevate the work of the news-
boys. The boys are encouraged in opening news stands and
stores, and in making a trade of the delivery of the daily papers,
but none of the boys of the home are found on the street corners
selling papers or jumping on and off the cars.

New York has recently passed a law in the interest of news-
boys. No boys under ten years of age are licensed to sell papers
and boys between ten and fourteen are not permitted to work
later than ten o'clock at night.

Homeless Lads. — The Children's Temple Home in Chicago en-
deavors to reach the homeless lads, and especially those who have
been confined in the prisons for stealing. The practical work of
the home is done on the farm in Southern Michigan. Beulahland
Farm is a junior commonwealth, being owned by the boys and
all the work being done by the owners. The profits accruing
from the farm are managed in the following manner: The boy
who does his very best receives three credits per hour in the pay
of the commonwealth; ten credits make one merit; ten merits
make one share. The financial year closes July 4th, when stock-
holders ascertain the gross profits, from which the expenses are
deducted. The net profit is then divided by the total number of



shares held by all the members of the commonwealth. Each
member is credited with his share of the profits. At eighteen the
boys leave the farm and take with them their earnings as a start
in life.

Paroled Boys. — The Junior Business Club, also of Chicago, is an-
other unique organization. The membership of the club is lim-
ited to boys paroled from the John Worthy School (reform
school), and is intended to furnish them a home until they have
found one elsewhere. The club has its own apartments which
are divided into reading rooms, drill rooms, lounging and sleep-
ing rooms and dining hall. The club is practically self-support-
ing, and at the present time has forty-three members, each mem-
ber has a small bank account in the Illinois Trust and Savings
Bank. Many of the members have secured positions in large
business firms of the city. The club has won for itself a good
reputation and has been pronounced the best plan yet devised
to put boys on their feet who have been through a penal institu-

Stage Children. — The Dorothy Dix Hall of Boston provides a
home and furnishes an education for children whose parents are
actors and are unable to provide a home for them. Where pos-
sible the parents pay a nominal sum for the care and instruction
of their children. The most important work is done through a
dramatic club, only such children as are used in the theatres, or
do concert work, are admitted. It is the aim of the club to pro-
tect and instruct, interfering with work that is not suitable and
assisting in that which seems advisable. The children sign an
agreement through their parents placing themselves under the
care of the club. Each child who performs has an under-study,
ready to alternate at the least sign of fatigue, thus enabling the
child to rest without losing its position.

Clubs. — What clubs can do is shown by the last report of the
Chicago Boys' Club. "During the ten months just closed the
club has had an aggregate attendance of 11,673. Three hundred
and ninety-eight free lodgings and 1,645 ^^^^ meals were given,
and medical services were rendered 139 boys. The club has its
quarters in the waifs' corner of the city. It has tried to carry on
its work by transporting its youths to the country, but this did
not prove successful because the boys always wanted to get back


to the city by Sunday so that they could go to the "the-ater" and
"play tag wid de kids in de depot." It has been discovered that
the only way to reach the boys is to go down to their level and
work up with them. It has opened its doors in opposition to the
saloons and billiard halls, and the reports show it has proved the
more popular place. Pool and billiards were at first eliminated,
but the dominoes were used as balls and wands as cues. The
basket ball and nine-pins and basement floor furnished all the
equipment the boys needed for a bowling alley, so these games
have been added to the list of indoor sports and the boys are
being taught to use them as they were intended. The basement
windows have been screened so that the baseball and punching
bag need not be wanting. They play the same old games, but
in a new way and under kindly influence and direction.

The Home Library. — The Home Library movement is rapidly be-
coming a recognized branch of philanthropic work. The object
of the movement is to place good books within the reach of those
children whose opportunities for reading are confined to unwhole-
some literature. A library case, containing about twenty books,
is placed in the home of a child who acts as librarian Once a
week a group of ten or twelve children from the neighborhood,
under the direction of a volunteer visitor, gather about the library
case to exchange books, discuss the books they have read, play

Online LibraryCharles Richmond HendersonModern methods of charity; an account of the systems of relief, public and private, in the principal countries having modern methods → online text (page 50 of 73)