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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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“Qualify them for the duties of life”

“Qualify them for the duties of life”

(p.43) 2. “Qualify them for the duties of life”
Fostering on the Farm

Megan Birk

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines the child welfare situation in the Midwest, including the transition of care from poor farms to children-only institutions. Beginning in the mid-1870s but increasing considerably during the 1880s and 1890s, poor farms were used less frequently for children, as counties, states, and charities opted to build children's institutions. Putting children from county-poor farms in institutions marked an important step in efforts to increase farm placement. This chapter first considers how indentures were made between county infirmaries and local residents before discussing the various concerns that arose from the construction of county children's homes. It also explores the changes made in the terms of an indenture contract; the placement of African American children; how religion and ethnicity affected child placements; the role of the institutional manager in finding a suitable family for a child; and the problems of institutional life. The chapter concludes by explaining what happened after placement parents got a child.

Keywords:   child welfare, Midwest, poor farms, institutions, farm placement, indentures, county infirmaries, children's homes, African American children, child placement

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