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Fostering on the FarmChild Placement in the Rural Midwest$
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Megan Birk

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039249

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039249.001.0001

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The Search for a Home

(p.1) Introduction
Fostering on the Farm

Megan Birk

University of Illinois Press

This book investigates how the practice of placing children with farmers in the rural Midwest that lasted from the early decades of the 1800s until after World War I eventually fell out of favor as a matter of policy. It explores the problems of abuse, neglect, and overwork that some children faced once they went into placement homes, along with efforts to remedy the problems with farm placements. It also considers how Progressive efforts at studying child welfare and farm life further cast doubts on the wisdom of farm placements and free placements in general. The book attributes the rise and fall of farm placements as a reflection of an important series of changes in dependent child care; between the 1870s and 1920s, farm placements for dependent children increased alongside the number of children institutionalized. However, problems with farms and farm placements forced reformers to discard this method in favor of paid foster care, adoptions, and family preservation. This introduction provides an overview of the chapters that follow.

Keywords:   children, Midwest, placement homes, farm placement, child welfare, farm life, child care, farms, foster care, adoption

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