Boarding out was the term used originally to describe the placement of children and young people in foster care in private homes, but came to include the 'care' of children in institutions.
The term was first introduced to Western Australia by the (reformist) Inspector of Charities, Mr James Longmore, in his annual report of 1897. Longmore stated in 1900 that:
'This system for dealing with some young children is a sound one, which has stood the test of experience. It has its foundations, the family system, and is, if properly carried out, free from what is artificial or unreal. It must not, however, be forgotten that as a rule people do not take children for the love of them, and no system requires so much care and systematic inspection as boarding-out. Continuous vigilance is necessary to prevent abuses.'
The official definition of boarding out was given in the State Children Act 1907 as follows: 'to place a State child in the care or charge of some person for the purpose of being nursed or maintained by such person, or in such person's house.' The Child Welfare Act 1947 kept this definition, but replaced the term state child with ward.
Annual Reports of the State Children and (later) the Child Welfare Departments list the names of members of Boarding Out Committees in metropolitan and regional areas. The purpose of these committees was essentially to promote fostering among people in their district, raise funds and keep an eye on children in out-of-home 'care'. As the 1927 Annual Report of the State Children Department explained: '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 term board out was removed from child welfare legislation in 1976.
13 April 2022
Cite this: http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/wa/WE00440
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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