The Role of Protestant children’s homes in nineteenth century Ontario: child rescue or family support?

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Journal of Family History, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp. 48-88.

This article is a descriptive exploration at children’s homes prior to the 1893 Child Protection Act in Ontario. The author looks to dispel the misconception that these homes were quick to label parents as worthless, undeserving, and thus children were in need of protection. The author provides a snapshot of these homes from 1845-1893, including a description of characteristics of these homes according to their kind, admission/discharge information, when it opened, when it was incorporated, grants, age profiles of children, turnover rates, and placement tendencies following discharge. 

The records demonstrate substantial variation between homes. Children tended to be assessed in three categorizations: “homeless and parentless (orphans)”, children of single or two parent “poor, destitute families unable to cope”, or children in need of protection from “worthless, vagrant, drunk parents” (p.74). The author found that admissions were typically because of poverty and not because of the acts of the parents. The article explores a variety of treatments and circumstances found to be present in these homes. The article concluded that the Protestant children homes in Ontario prior to 1893 helped evolve the current child welfare system.

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Canadian CW research
Journal article