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 61 of 73)
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* Statistica della Assistenza dell' infanzia abbandonata, Anni 1890, 1891 e 1892,
Roma, 1894.

^ LAssistenza all' infanzia illegitima abbandonata.



and the United States of America, a legal investigation of paternal
responsibility should be made in each case {riccrca della paternita).

A bill was proposed in the national legislature to make the Rovigo
system general. This bill as drafted made the care of abandoned
children obligatory on each province. The care was to be confined to
infants, foundlings in the strict sense, and children of unmarried
mothers. The expense was to be divided between the province and
the communes concerned, with the exception of communes where
existing arrangements for the purpose were sufficient. Where there
are no foundling asylums assistance is to be given to mothers, and
rooms furnished for the first reception. Without afifecting the rules
for reception in existing foundling asylums, the administrators are
to secure information about the antecedents of child and mother, and
this information must be kept secret. Only mothers who have ac-
knowledged their children obtain a right to receive information about
them afterwards. Supervision by medical men is provided for chil-
dren up to 10 years of age for boys and to 12 years for girls ; suckling
infants are to be inspected once a fortnight up to three months and
afterwards up to the seventh month at least once a month. The
observations of visits are to be recorded in a book. A medical
director is to supervise the inspections in and outside the institution.
Within a period of one year after the passing of the law all existing
establishments must adopt the regulations and accept certain hygienic
and sanitary prescriptions. It has been urged as an objection to this
bill that it was too timid and limited in its scope ; that it protects
existing arrangements too carefully ; that it cares only for a limited
number of children, the foundlings and the illegitimate, and neither
requires the acknowledgment by the mother nor asks about the father.
But the law once enforced would at least mark progress. Even with-
out legislation progress has been made in some provinces beside
Rovigo. The report on the Casa dell' Anmmciata di Napoli was
made by G. Pucci, who administered the house two years in order to
correct abuses and introduce a better system ; and on the whole he was
quite successful ; but the report indicates a fear that after his departure
some abuses returned. Information is given in respect to the uneco-
nomical methods of administration, the unhygienic condition of rooms
for children and nurses, the dirty clothing, the lack of isolating rooms,
etc. When Pucci undertook the administration there were 96 nurses
and 224 children ; all kept in 4 rooms, in each of which there were



23-26 nurses, and 68, 55, 64 and 27 children, while each nurse had to
give nourishment to 3 children. In the milk supply adulteration was
discovered, and half of it was water. Still worse was the care of
children in the families of peasants, who were paid 8 lire monthly.
144 lire were paid for the care of 18 months, and the child was left to
its fate without supervision, while no scrutiny was made in the selec-
tion of families. It was found that not less than 965 children had
died, 172 were sent out of Italy, 226 to other communes, while nothing
could be learned of 102. Of children sent to families in Naples, of
595 children born in the years 1890-96, 190 could not be found, 75
were reported dead, and 115 removed to other homes. Not less
unhappy was the condition of the older children and of inmates who
were brought up in the houses and still remained there, 413 in number.
But here the complaint was not of hard treatment but of such exces-
sive comfort that the inmates were unwilling to go out and work for
their own support. The luxurious meals and complete freedom to
come and go, robbed the institution of its original character as a
charitable establishment. Habit had become so inveterate that oppo-
sition to improvement was obstinate, and Pucci could do nothing by
orders, requests and threats ; the inmates went so far as to mutiny.
By determined effort Pucci effected a complete change, restricted the
liberty of going and coming at pleasure, required the pupils to work
in the house, abolished unnecessary luxuries, etc. But some of the
girls said to his face that they would remain, in spite of his strict
measures, because there would soon be a new superintendent and he
would restore the old order.

Pucci proceeded in his reforms by reconstructing the buildings so
that there should be a larger number of rooms and fewer nurses and
infants to each room ; he provided rooms for isolating cases of infec-
tious disease ; ordered medical supervision and improved the quality
of the milk. Medical visits, previously much neglected, were re-
quired twice a day, and the condition of nurses and children was care-
fully studied. Cleanliness in rooms, bedding and clothing was
strictly enforced. The results were at once manifest in the dimin-
ished death rate of infants, which in 1896 was 41.55 per cent., but in
1898 had fallen to 30.12 per cent.

The care of children outside the house was improved by inspection
and selection of families. Pucci emphasizes in this connection the
necessity of the cooperation of local communal officials, physicians,




clergy and of special comitati di patronato. But in his judgment it
is also necessary to have a constant supervision by salaried persons.
Physicians of the institution were charged with the oversight of the

The conditions on which foundlings are received have a strong
influence on the numbers presented, the cost of care, and the morality
of the parents. Thus at Milan in 1896 the infants abandoned to the
Foundling Asylum {BrefotroHo) numbered 1,177; in 1897 the num-
ber was 1,097; ^" 1898, 962; in 1901, only 823. The cost fell from
343,000 lire in 1890 to 281,000 lire in 1901, although prices had in-
creased. The principal cause of these changes seems to have been the
introduction of a rule that only illegitimate infants should be received,
and these must be of mothers residing in the province. Under this
rule married mothers cease to cast off their babes and nursed them
themselves, securing charitable assistance if necessary ; and unmar-
ried mothers ceased to come from other provinces to throw the bur-
den of support upon the city.^

Foundlings. — The Hospital of the Innocents at Florence was
founded in 1419 and cares for foundlings. A council of administra-
tion of five members with a permanent director conducts the institu-
tion. In 1899 the number of infants sheltered was 6,637. The ex-
penditures were 620,000 lires and the receipts 644,750 1. At the Paris
exposition of 1900 an album of photographs represented the ofifice of
reception of foundlings ; the gallery of ancient pictures, including a
fresco by Foncetti representing the Massacre of the Innocents ; an
infirmary with arrangements for feeding the children with milk ; an
isolation room ; an infirmary for weaned children ; a vaccination labor-
atory, from which is supplied vaccine for Tuscany ; and a school for
sick children. Very instructive and interesting is the work of the
Spedale di Santa Maria degl' Innocenti di Firenze, which gives the
history of the institution from its foundation to the present time. The
former conditions of the foundling asylum were not favorable, and
here also were found the crowded rooms, defective medical super-
vision, uncleanliness, etc. The mortality was naturally enormous ; in
the period between 1755- 1774 the average rate was 70 per cent. In
recent times the institution has been quite reformed. The old build-
ings were abandoned and new houses on the pavilion plan were

^ See resolutions of the congress of representatives of provinces at Turin, 1898,
in Riv. Ben. Pubb., 1902, p. 239.


erected in the extensive gardens of the place ; so that instead of dark
and ill-ventilated rooms the children are kept in lighted rooms with
only a reasonable number to a room. The children are now received
in a quarantine room until they can undergo a medical examination.
The beds which formerly held two infants now have but one. Suck-
lings are ordinarily retained 14 days in the house and are then sent
out ; but if they betray defect or weakness they are retained for treat-
ment. Formerly goat milk was preferred, but now sterilized milk of
cows is used, and this milk is furnished to private persons at cost.
The special supervision of nurses is in the hands of a sister assisted by
six grown pupils of the institution.

Outside care is given to women of blameless lives and good health,
generally women who have given suck to their own children {sono
come suol dirsi, di secondo lattc). Still it is confessed that it is not
easy to find suitable persons, because such women prefer to go to
private service where they are better paid. The price which the hos-
pital pays acts as a kind of regulator, since private persons go a little
higher than the rate of the institution. Physicians inspect the milk
of the nurses, if necessary by analysis. Local physicians are informed
in respect to the giving out of children and a clergyman and physician
of the locality are also informed.

There is also a paid overseer in the neighborhood, who is partic-
ularly careful to secure knowledge of those from whom nothing has
been heard for some time. The rate of payment is low, and is only
10-12 lire monthly for the first year, 8 in the second year, and falls to
4, 3, 2 lire to the tenth year ; after the tenth year only i lira per month
is paid for girls up to the 14th year. It is understood that children in
the country are useful after the loth year, and a few are sent back by
foster parents. Families who keep boys until they are 18 years of age
or girls till they are 25, receive a premium of 50 lire. To girls a gift
of 200 lire is granted. For sickly and defective children the payment
is higher. Very favorable is the influence of agricultural labor, and,
while formal adoption is not frequent, the children generally remain
members of the family. The institution does a work of large extent.
At the end of 1899 it had under its care 6,393 pupils, of whom 2,552
were boys and 2,841 girls ; the annual additions on the average are
700. The total number received since the riiota was abolished has
greatly diminished ; there were about 9,000 to 10,000 after 1850 and
7,000 to 8,000 after 1870. The rate of mortality is high. Another


illustration may be given in the monograph on L! ospizio provinciale
dcgli esposti e delle partorienti di Udine, a relatively small establish-
ment. In an accurate description we find the same effort to substitute
for the ruota the proper assistance of mothers, if they acknowledge
their children.^ This movement began in 1873 and entered on a new
stage in 1895 with a new administration. The number of infants
acknowledged by mothers steadily rose under the new system, from
11.82 per cent, in 1885, to 51.77 per cent, in 1895, and 47.82 per cent,
in 1897 ; it is somewhat higher with older children than with infants.
At the same time the number of abandoned children decreased, from
203 in 1885 down to 69 in 1897. The assistance given corresponding-
ly increased, from 969 lire for 12 mothers in 1885, to 30,160 lire for
432 mothers in 1897. The cost of maintaining a child outside the
institution in the last period was 70.80 lire against 30.19 lire in the
beginning of the century ; while the cost of institutional care, in which
general expenditures are included, rose to 605 lire, a proof that family
care is not only better but cheaper than that in institutions. The rate
of mortality was formerly very high ; in 1754 it was 90 per cent. ; in
1819-21 it was still 60-70 per cent. ; while at the same time in family
care it was only 1-6 per cent. Of late it sunk from 67.80 per cent.
(1880) to 35.62 per cent., which is by no means satisfactory, although
it is well understood that the mortality of illegitimate children is
necessarily greater than that of others. The institution, in accord-
ance with its new statute of 1894, receives, in addition to foundlings
and illegitimate children, also legitimate infants, if the communes or
other authorities pay for their care. The administration exercises
oversight of boys until they are 18 years of age, and of girls until they
are 21. When the ordinary income is insufificient, the province gives
a subsidy. The local authorities share with the administration the
task of supervision.

Dr. P. G. Bevilaqua has published a valuable study of the mortality
of abandoned children in the commune of Lanciano. In the period
1875-1899 the number of children on record was 1,061 ; 516 male and
545 female. In the last decade the number diminished, a fact appar-
ently due to more favorable economic conditions. Of those received,
16 were dead, while 569 died after reception, 290 under one month,
and 206 under one year, a rate of 56 per cent. The author thinks that
the lack of maternal nourishment is not the only reason for the high

^ See article in Riv. Ben. Pubb., March, 1903, pp. 156, 163.



rate of mortality. Such children are born under conditions which,
even under favorable circumstances, must cause death. UncleanH-
ness in the vessels used for artificial food, in the handling of the new-
born infant, and defective sanitary conditions of the institution are

A very interesting example of child saving work, which reminds
one of Dr. Barnardo's work in London, is the Little House of Divine
Providence in Turin, which was founded by Don Cottolengo in a poor
little cottage of two rooms, which he gradually extended, so that to-
day there is a village of over 3,000 poor, sick, sisters, brothers, who
are divided into families in accordance with age, form of need and
occupation. There is one family of deaf-mutes in which the sisters
instruct about 80 girls, born deaf, in speaking, reading, writing and
needlework. As soon as the children can make themselves under-
stood they usually return home, but may, if they prefer, remain in the
house. If they dedicate themselves to a religious calling, they find in
the home a congregation whose duty it is to take care of the altars and
consecrated objects in the 13-14 chapels of the institution. There are
also families of the feeble-minded, insane, epileptic, etc. Each family
has its own living and sleeping rooms and a chapel. The so-called
"university" of the Little House provides instruction from the ele-
mentary school up to the university. The beginning is made in the
children's asylum in which, at the last report, 90 children dwelt in a
spacious chamber, slept and received instruction, while in a great court
they played and had gymnastic exercises. From this division the
more gifted pupils proceed to the higher grades. The instructors for
the 100-115 cloister pupils all dwell in the institution and are there for
the most part educated for the work. The "Thomas School" for
philosophy and theology is the culmination of the system. The pupils
of this division attend the schools and lectures of the city under the
care of a teacher, and return to the house after the lessons, and there
enjoy the use of a library and room for work. In this family the
teachers, confessors and priests of the Little House are trained, and
some of the younger theologians devote themselves to missions in
other places. Sisters are also educated here as nurses, druggists,
teachers of deaf mutes, etc. There are technical schools for book-
binders, woodworkers, saddlers, painters ; and employment is secured
for deaf mutes, cripples and feeble-minded. Tailoring and shoe-

^ Rivista di Beneficenza, 1900, p. 497 ff.


making are taught, and those who are trained supply the wants of
inmates of the Little House, while those who are weak and undevel-
oped are thus furnished occupation. Sisters and brothers assist in
instruction, care of the sick and labor of household and kitchen, all
with cheerful consecration. Especial mention may be made of the
Cottolengo hospital, which is visited by physicians of Turin and does
not exclude any form of sickness.

In order to procure means of support for the Little House the
pupils march in processions, by sections, through the city, and beg
for it. There is no effort to procure permanent endowment. All
productive property is turned into cash and used for current expenses.
The residents of the Little House will trust their fate with firm
confidence to the hand of Divine Providence.

Italy has carried very far the work of providing sanatoria for
children. While summer outings are less needed and less common
than elsewhere, and care for only about 1,200 children, there are 21
sanatoria for poor scrofulous children, which in 1898 received about
8,029 children for a period of 40-45 days.

Societies for Preventing Cruelty. — In Italy the Societa Nazionale
Pro Infantia was founded at Rome in 1897. It has for its task the
protection of children under 16 years of age against cruelty and mal-
treatment, the resistance against introducing children to immoral and
hurtful occupations, the prevention of mendicancy and vagabondage,
and the furtherance of education. To promote these purposes the
society maintains a permanent service and has personal relations with
parents, guardians and local authorities, in order to assist the children
W'hich come under its protection. When the parents are very poor
the child may be aided at home, or placed in an asylum or hospice for
a time or permanently, or with a family in the country, where it is
watched over by the society. In this association are not only mem-
bers who pay but also others who, without payment, make themselves
useful by service. The means of the society are not large : the last
accessible report gives only ^,000-10,000 lire annually.

Children. — In the field of child saving work, Italy shows the
greatest progress. While advance is everywhere limited, the neces-
sity for improvement is recognized and in many branches of adminis-
tration noteworthy reforms have begun, especially in connection with
hygienic and social measures. Very earnest efforts have been put
forth to secure a thorough knowledge of actual conditions. Compre-



hensive statistical investigations, numerous monographs, various bills
for legislation and discussions of them in the national legislature have
interest in the charity world.

Orphanages. — These establishments care for destitute, abandoned
and neglected children ; and of these there were in 1898, 1,005 institu-
tions with 43,590 children, most of whom were in the larger cities;
69 cities furnished 27,333 children.

Of institutions for youth under correction (riformatori) there
were in 1898, 45, — 9 belonging to the State, 36 were private, — in all
6,859 inmates. Little progress has been made in these institutions in
recent years. There are no provisions for compulsory education of
neglected children who have not actually committed a crime, although
the Charity Congress of 1900 earnesly advocated this measure.

Assistance of School Children. — In Italy, as elsewhere, it has been
found that many pupils are prevented from attending school on
account of the inability of their parents to provide for them suitable
shoes and clothing. In many cases the children are so ill-fed at home
that they are too weak to study continuously, the power of attention
being dependent on nutrition. Several methods of meeting this ac-
knowledged need have been proposed : municipal grants, increase of
school tax for the purpose, public relief, private charitable associa-
tions. Some socialistic leaders are demanding that all children alike
be fed at school, so that none shall be disgraced before their compan-
ions as objects of charity. Against this extreme measure the finan-
cial argument seems decisive, for the communes of Italy are already
excessively burdened with taxation. The general opinion seems to
be in favor of meeting the want in cases when it arises by special
forms of charitable assistance, either at the school or in the home.^

K.-L. Children and Youth. — The Society for the Protection
of Children, of Milan, was founded in 1879, and recognized as of
public utility by royal decree of October 21, 1881, and has for its
object the protection of children abandoned or maltreated. These
children are collected in the institution, or are given gratuitously
shelter, food and instruction in elementary studies, drawing, music,
gymnastics and manual training. The society secures for them an
opportunity to learn a trade suited to their aptitudes and tastes.
The director of the institution supervises the work and sees that the
children are properly treated in the factories. Half the wages

'^ Article by Paolo Doneti, in Riv. Ben. Pubb., Jan., 1901.


earned by the child are deposited in his name in a savings bank
and the other half goes to the society. At eighteen years of age
the youth has a trade and can make his living and has a little
capital of 200 to 600 lire. The director takes pains to see that
the guardian of the youth after his eighteenth year is proper
and reliable. The person may not draw from his savings account
without permission of the director, until he is of age. The new
guardian assumes from the society responsibility for the subsequent
care of the youth. The pupils show affection and gratitude toward
the institution in after years and seek advice of the director in their
affairs. The average annual expenditures of the society are about
24,000 lire.^

The Comitato per la difesa giuridica deW infanda e della fanciid-
leaca obbandonata in 1902 declared that there were in Italy 30,000
children entirely abandoned ; that every year on an average 14,000
children between the ages of 9-14 years are convicted ; that of minors
over 14 years about 64,000 are annually convicted ; and that about 40
per cent, of children in the great cities lead a more or less vagrant life,^
and that these evils are increasing. This committee insists that the
former policy of seeking to correct children in reformatories is costly,
wasteful and futile ; that it is more economical and hopeful to antici-
pate crime and not wait for the offense in order to lend the helping
hand of the State.

The Pio Istituto pei Figli dcIIa Providenza, incorporated in 1887,
has for its programme : Assistance of the still innocent abandoned
child and punishment of those guilty of the act of abandonment. The
founders of this society believe that private charity is not able to
defend the minor from the injustice of its neglectful parents, and that
the law must be improved and its help invoked. A premium of a
medal of gold and 1000 lire in money was offered for the best essay
on the subject ; it being required that the essay should exhibit the
causes working to increase the evil and the best methods of making
the existing laws more effective and the wisest amendments.

In 1897 the Minister of Education made an appeal to the com-
munal and municipal authorities for the support of the Comitati di
Patronato, and it has been heeded. At Rome the commune grants

^ For an account of the institutions for the care of children and youth in Rome,
see La Beneficenza Romana, 1892, by Quirino Querini, p. 420 ff.
"^ Riv. Bon. Pubb., 1902, p. 564.


annually about $10,000, at Turin $4,000, and at Cremona $3,600.^
Closely related to this movement is the work of vacation schools which
have already done excellent service in preventing the pupils during the
free time of autumn and summer from becoming wild and losing the
advantages of school training.

The first national Congress of friends of neglected children, Pro
Infantia, met at Turin, September, 1902. The discussions led to the
following principal conclusions : The teachings of science in respect
to the food of infants : that a microscopic examination of milk is im-
portant ; that the age of the infant of a wet nurse must be considered
in assigning a foster infant to her for nourishment ; that artificial food
may be used if it is scientifically prepared and administered ; and that
hired nurses, especially among the poorly fed, are inferior. Asylums
for nourishing infants who have not proper maternal care were ap-
proved. The example of Turin was held worthy of imitation, since

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 61 of 73)