1920 Fostering State Children was enabled under the 1907 State Children Act. Service providers were known as State Parents or Foster Mothers. Foster parents (or State Parents) had the custody of State Children and were subsidised by the state. They were distinct from licensed foster mothers (licensed under s.100 - later ss.109, 110 - State Children Act) who were not paid by the state, but directly by the child's family. Annual Report 1920.
1922 The State Children Department had responsibility for the supervision of all children placed with licensed foster mothers, including those placed by the Children's Protection Society. Parents/relatives paid direct to foster mother. Many children were later placed under the care of the Department due to parents/relatives' inability to pay. Annual Report 1922
Also in this year, 'provision for mentally deficient boys was made by an arrangement with the Salvation Army, who took over the care of educable cases at a special per capita rate.' Proud 2004 .
1925 As early as 1925, case conferences were held. The following quote outlines the Department's perspective on this initiative: 'Great care is necessary, and in a great many cases a conference is held and the future of a particular child discussed by several officers. This method gives excellent results, but great judgement is necessary, as mistakes must be avoided. This work should be entrusted to trained officers with experience in this phase of our work.' At this time, there was no formal training required of Departmental Officers. Annual Report 1925.
1926 The appointment of a Government Psychologist was expected to increase the number of residents in institutions for 'backward' children. Mention was also made of Industrial Schools - the policy being to review cases regularly to ensure children who are of an age where 'they should be commencing to earn a living' are not 'detained' too long, but are 'released on parole' or transferred. Annual Report 1926.
1927 The means of checking up on children in foster care (known as 'boarding out' in this era) was described by the Department: 'The homes of foster parents in addition to being visited by our lady Inspectors are also visited by members of the Boarding-out Committees where such exist, who report periodically to the Department on a special form provided for the purpose. The membership of these committees (by area) was noted in Annual Reports. The Annual Report also comments on the Under 6s and Licensed Foster Mothers: 'All homes, where it is desired to take children under 6 years of age for gain or reward, are first reported upon by our lady Inspectors, and...no person is permitted to place children with unlicensed foster mothers'. Annual Report 1927.
1928 The Annual Report commented on education and training which was available to children and young people in 'care'. Practices were described as being 'similar to that of the State Schools and, with the exception of the Roman Catholic institutions, the teachers are supplied or approved by the Education Department.' The Annual Report goes on to say that: 'Any children showing special ability are encouraged to study and, when possible, good situations are obtained for them. It is difficult to obtain a sufficient wage to enable a boy or girl to pay their board while qualifying for a trade.'
The inspection activities of the Department were also described: 'The homes of foster parents are visited periodically, about four times a year, and more frequently if necessary. The infants are visited at short intervals. These visits are made by the lady inspectors of the Department…who are all trained nurses'. Reports were submitted by these inspectors to the Government Medical Officer and the Dental Hospital. Reports from Boarding-out Committees were forwarded to the Department. Annual Report 1928.
1929 In relation to finding foster homes, the Annual Report of this year stated there was 'no difficulty in placing suitable children in good homes'. The characteristics of a good home and foster parent were described as follows: 'Certain qualifications must be possessed by any women desirous of acting as foster parent. These include kindly and sympathetic disposition and a love of children, etc. The income of the person must be such as to warrant a child being properly maintained with the aid of the Government subsidy. We do not care to place children in homes where there is insufficiency of other income apart from the subsidy paid.' Annual Report 1929.
20 February 2014
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