The Care Of Unfortunate Children — Official Information On...
Recently I wrote to the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, United States Government, Washington, D. C., concerning the need of some more public homes for unfortunate children. Here is my letter and the Government's reply:
December 30, 1953 Mrs. Oveta Culp Hobby, Secretary
Department of Health and Welfare United States Government Washington, D. C.
Dear Madam Secretary:
I am interested in obtaining information as to the adequacy of facilities for the care of orphan and homeless children in these United States. If printed matter is available I would be happy to know how to obtain same.
In the opinion of your department, are circumstances prevalent over the country which create a need for more public institutions for unfortunate children? Are there enough capable and responsible families who are willing to legally adopt all the homeless children in the United States? Are the legal procedures generally prohibitive and discouraging to responsible and capable families in the adoption of children?
Your answers to these questions will be of help to me, and my sincerest appreciation for your attention in this matter will be yours.
Wm. E. Wallace
January 12, 1954 Mr. William E. Wallace
Church of Christ 640 Thayer Street
Akron 10, Ohio Dear Mr. Wallace:
Mrs. Oveta Culp Hobby has asked the Children's Bureau to respond to your inquiry about adoption and institutional facilities for dependent children.
First, in regard to adoption, it is estimated that there are from 10 to 15 applicants for every homeless child who is legally released by parents for purposes of adoption. Legal procedures regarding adoption of such children are not prohibitive; in fact, they are designed to facilitate the adoption process. Such laws allow both licensed agencies and parents to place children for adoption.
In regard to public institutions for dependent children, there are several trends that would interest you. The total number of dependent children in public and private institutions was about 140,000 in 1933. Today, there are about 93,000. Less than 14,000 of these would be in public institutions such as you refer to. These public institutions have been diminishing in size, closing out entirely, or converting to institutions for mentally retarded children or emotionally disturbed children, for whom such care is needed.
Your own State of Ohio had almost 11.000 dependent children in institutions in 1933. Today, there are less than 7,000 (about half of these are in county children's homes).
There are many factors responsible for this decrease in use of institutions for dependent children: developments in foster family care, family services for children in their own homes, insurance and economic assistance programs, decreased maternal mortality rates, day care, etc.
I recognize these are rather summary answers to some very serious inquiries you pose in your letter. If you would like us to provide fuller information, please feel free to write again.
Consultant on Group Care Division of Social Services
1. For every child legally given up by parents there are 10 to 15 families who desire to get that child.
2. Laws generally encourage the adoption of unfortunate children.
3. There are less than 14,000 children (not physically or mentally retarded) in institutions for unfortunate children.
4. There is a definite trend away from public care of unfortunate children and the needs of such care is diminishing.
5. The trend is definitely toward the placing of unfortunate children in homes, family homes.
1. For every child in the institutions controlled by our brethren I dare say there are at least 50 Christian families who are willing and able to take a child into their homes, permanently.
2. The state laws generally encourage and allow the adoption of unfortunate children.
3. There are enough willing Christian families to take care of all 14,000 in the institutions for healthy unfortunate children.
4. The brotherhood trend toward the building of more public homes is contrary to the national trend of a diminishing nature. The Government says: There is a diminishing trend, a decreasing use of institutions for dependent children. Our brethren say: "There exists in our great and prosperous land many children who are without homes and love and a chance in our world of relentless competition. Broken homes, calamities, evil in many forms are robbing many boys and girls of the love and influence of mother and father. They cannot be blamed for their conditions, yet many of them will later be punished as criminals. The church is already doing much very fine work through our children's homes over the land and through many Christian families. But so many are homeless! Are we to leave their fate to the state and other religious groups?" — From Lubbock, Texas. The trend is to foster family care, family services for children in their own homes, insurance and economic assistance programs, decreased maternal rates, day care, etc. — nationally. Why do not the brethren in charge of "our" various homes for unfortunate children release these children to the willing families? The "diminishing" trend, nationally, is such because the need is diminishing.
5. Instead of building new orphan homes and thereby bleeding the brotherhood of money that could be spent in evangelistic work, why not encourage the placing of all those "But yet so many are yet homeless" in Christian families?
Question: Will someone produce official information to the effect that "So many are yet homeless"? That's all, I leave it to your study and consideration.