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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

CHILD CARE - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

CHILD CARE. Since the mid-19th century, Cleveland has cared for children needing residential or day care or medical services. Although child care has been both a private and a public responsibility, the public sector has played an increasingly significant role since the 1930s. The first public institution to care for children was the City Infirmary, built in 1837 to house all dependents, including the ill, elderly, disabled, and insane. In 1858 the House of Correction, also called the House of Refuge, opened for vagrant or delinquent children under the age of 17, operating in conjunction with the city workhouse from 1871 until closing in 1891. From 1891-1901, delinquent children were kept in the Cuyahoga County Jail. Some public funding supported temporary shelter and training for dependent children in the City Industrial School (1856-71), founded by METHODISTS in 1853 as the "Ragged School."

However, private charities, often with strong religious ties, sponsored most of the city's 19th century child care. Protestants, Catholics (see CATHOLICS, ROMAN) and Jews (see JEWS & JUDAISM) established several institutions for children from the mid-19th to the 20th centuries (see ORPHANAGES). These institutions provided long-term residential care while child-placing agencies provided temporary shelter and placed children in foster or adoptive homes. The CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETY was organized in 1858 as an outgrowth of the City Industrial School. The Cleveland Humane Society (like others around the country, at first the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) began to serve children in 1876, charged with enforcing a new state law that prohibited cruelty to children. The society investigated cases of neglect, abuse, or abandonment and was empowered to remove children from their parents and place them in orphanages or foster homes if necessary. In most cases, however, the Humane Society simply admonished parents or forced them to supply adequate financial support. It also administered Lida Baldwin's Infants Rest for foundlings (1884-1915). In 1887 the Lutheran Children's Aid Society was established for children of LUTHERANS.

Religious institutions also provided preventive or protective services for children judged to be neglected, delinquent, or predelinquent. In 1869 the SISTERS OF THE GOOD SHEPHERD opened their convent for young women, and in 1892 the WOMAN'S CHRISTIAN TEMPERANCE UNION, NON-PARTISAN, OF CLEVELAND, opened its Training Home for Friendless Girls. These institutions purported to reform and reclaim young women through religious training in a familial and domestic setting. Private organizations sponsored daycare facilities, beginning with the CLEVELAND DAY NURSERY AND FREE KINDERGARTEN ASSN., INC. (1882).

Four medical facilities especially for, children were established around the turn of the century: Rainbow Cottage (1887) for convalescent children, which became Rainbow Hospital for Crippled & Convalescent Children (1913); the Children's Fresh Air Camp (1889), later HEALTH HILL HOSPITAL FOR CHILDREN; Babies' Dispensary & Hospital, a free milk dispensary (1904) which later added a clinic (1907); and the Holy Cross House for crippled and invalid children (1903), administered by the EPISCOPALIANS (Diocese of Ohio). In 1925 the Babies' Dispensary became part of UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS CASE MEDICAL CENTER (UH), joined by Rainbow Hospital in 1971 to form Rainbow Babies & Childrens Hospital of UH.

In 1909 a White House Conference on Dependent Children signaled the interest of the Progressive Era in child welfare and helped establish 2 trends that would dominate child care through the century: the shift from institutional to noninstitutional care and the increase in public funding and management. The conference took the official position that "home life" (as opposed to institutional life) was best for children; in 1910 the Western Reserve Conference on the Care of Neglected & Dependent Children reiterated that preference. The establishment of CUYAHOGA COUNTY JUVENILE COURT in 1902 marked a new recognition of public responsibility. Created in reaction to deplorable conditions of the children's facilities in the city jail, the court provided for dependent and neglected children. Delinquent children were placed on probation, in a public reformatory institution such as the Hudson Boys' Farm (1903) or BLOSSOM HILL SCHOOL FOR GIRLS (1914), or in a private protective facility. The court also collected child support from negligent parents. In 1913 the State of Ohio passed a mothers' pension law, providing funds for widowed or deserted mothers to continue to care for their children.

The growing preference for noninstitutional care gave child-placing agencies new importance. Because there were no county children's homes, in 1909 Cuyahoga County provided funds to the Humane Society to place children in boarding homes. In 1913 the society also received city monies to establish systematic child-placement. In 1921 the Children's Bureau was established to standardize the placement of Protestant and Catholic children in foster and adoptive homes. The Welfare Assn. of Jewish Children, (later the JEWISH CHILDREN'S BUREAU) handled the placement of Jewish children. Several nonresidential services also developed, such as the WOMEN'S PROTECTIVE ASSN. (1916), which became the Girls' Bureau (1930), working closely with juvenile and municipal court probation officers, and the Jewish and Catholic Big Brother/Big Sister programs (est. 1919-24, see BIG BROTHER/BIG SISTER MOVEMENT).

Despite the noninstitutional preference, new facilities for adolescents were, established, partly in response to concerns about delinquency and CRIME. The Catholic Diocese opened St. Anthony's Home for Boys (1906) and the CATHERINE HORSTMANN HOME for high school girls (1907). The work of the Convent of the Good Shepherd was divided between the Sacred Heart Training School, which admitted girls referred by juvenile court, and the Angel Guardian School, which sheltered dependent girls. The Humane Society opened Leonard Hall, formerly Holy Cross House, for high school boys.

The community responded to the needs of young children as well. The Cleveland Day Nursery & Free Kindergarten Assn. was founded in 1983. Since kindergartens had become a public responsibility in 1897 (see EDUCATION), nursery schools and daycare centers gradually replaced the association's kindergartens. In 1922 the Sisters of the Holy Humility of Mary opened Rosemary Home for crippled children (later ROSE-MARY CENTER). Orphanages merged, moved to the SUBURBS, expanded, and broadened services to include "troubled" children.

The Depression accelerated the trends toward public responsibility and noninstitutional care. As private funds dwindled, the number of children admitted into the city's child-care institutions dropped significantly: from 2,139 in 1928 to 1,346 in 1930. Public funding, particularly federal, became more important, and public agencies, particularly the county, assumed new responsibilities. In 1930, for example, the Cuyahoga County Child Welfare Board took over the placement of more than 1,000 children from the Humane Society and the Welfare Assn. for Jewish Children. The county also maintained a detention home, offering children temporary shelter. In 1935 the Social Security Act provided federal funds, to be supplemented with local dollars, for Aid to Families of Dependent Children (AFDC). Since the 1930s, both county and federal governments have expanded these roles. AFDC has borne chief responsibility for care of dependent children, usually within the family. From 1979-80, 90,300 Cleveland residents received AFDC funds. The Cuyahoga County Department of Human Services provided child placement in foster and adoptive homes and private facilities as well as daycare and protective services. The county also maintained the Metzenbaum Children's Center, a temporary shelter and diagnostic facility; a juvenile detention home; and the Youth Development Center in Hudson, formed by the merger of Cleveland Boys School and Blossom Hill. The Ohio Department of Youth Services administered Cuyahoga Hills Boys School for juvenile offenders.

Since the 1940s, private child-care agencies have merged and diversified, most specializing in counseling in residential or nonresidential settings. When AFDC and other public-relief programs diminished the need for institutional care for dependent children, orphanages and, child-placing agencies shifted their focus to children with emotional or behavioral problems. Residential protective facilities included Marycrest School, formerly the Sacred Heart Training School, the CRITTENTON HOME (which served unwed mothers prior to 1971), BOYSTOWNS, and group homes run by the Augustine Society and the West Side Ecumenical Ministry. The Catherine Horstmann Home began to serve retarded young women.

Family service agencies provide a wide range of programs. In 1945 the Humane Society and the Children's Bureau combined to form Children's Services, which in 1966 absorbed a former orphanage, the Jones Home (see JONES HOME OF CHILDREN'S SERVICES, INC.). Children's Services has offered foster care, unmarried-parent counseling, daycare, and, in the Jones Home, care for emotionally disturbed children. The Lutheran Children's Aid Society has provided family counseling and foster-home placement. Catholic Social Services and the Jewish Children's Bureau offered child placement and daycare while Catholic Social Services and the JEWISH FAMILY SERVICE ASSN. have counseled families and individuals.

The increase in daycare facilities reflects the growing numbers of mothers in the paid workforce since World War II. In 1949 only the Day Nursery Assn., the JEWISH DAY NURSERY, and the WEST SIDE COMMUNITY HOUSE sponsored daycare. In 1962 9 agencies provided daycare to about 1,000 children. By 1982, in addition to Catholic and Jewish organizations, the CENTER FOR FAMILIES AND CHILDREN, the GREATER CLEVELAND NEIGHBORHOOD CENTERS ASSN., the SALVATION ARMY, KARAMU HOUSE, and federal, state, and local funds supported a wide range of daycare options. The total 1982 capacity of these nonprofit centers was 6,140 children.

Public funds have enabled these private child-care institutions and agencies to expand and diversify: public agencies have often bought specialized professional services from them, like daycare, psychiatric and medical care, and counseling. The availability of public monies, however, depends upon the state of the economy and the spending policies of elected officials.

Marian Morton

John Carroll Univ.


Bing, Lucia Johnson. Social Work in Greater Cleveland (1938).

Federation for Community Planning Records, WRHS.

Polster, Gary E. Inside Looking Out: The Jewish Orphan Asylum 1868-1924 (1990).

See also WELFARE/RELIEF, PHILANTHROPY.

Last Modified: 04 Mar 1998 03:03:44 PM

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