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Games and sports: The playgrounds have been supplemented during the past year by a complete outdoor gymnasium outfit with everything from swings and slides for the youngest to traveling rings and horizontal bars for the oldest. A director has had charge of the playground during the summer, and the children have enjoyed tramps to the nearby woods and river. The boys and girls have been coached in basket ball and base ball and great interest was created in the former game last winter. Special suits were provided, match games played between cottages, and a championship pennant awarded to the cottage winning the most games. We are hoping the time may soon come when we may see the completion of a well equipped gymnasium with modern appliances including a swimming pool.
Sunday services: Many of the older children attend religious services in the several churches of Owatonna. Those who do not go to church in the city meat in the school auditorium Sunday mornings at 10:30 where appropriate exercises are conducted by the teachers and state agents. Sunday school is held every Sunday afternoon from three to four o'clock and ministers and interested members of the different churches of the city frequently attend and give valuable assistance.
The very satisfactory organization of our library according to modern standards, reported two years ago, has been maintained under the efficient direction of Miss Gladys Chute, our librarian and director of music, whose report of the library follows:
REPORT OF LIBRARIAN. Since the last report was published, we have seen the completion of our children's library and reading room. This has meant not only a large increase in the circulation of books, but, we believe a real stimulation of interest in good reading, and a refining influence noticeable throughout the school.
The room was ready for occupancy in the spring of the present year. It is one of the large well-lighted rooms in the school house and is equipped with every modern furnishing being comfortable as well as attractive even to the smallest children. One traveling librarian declared it the prettiest children's library in the state.
Our aim in this new room has been to meet the need of all ages of children, and because so many of our children are not old enough to read we have greatly increased our use of pictures, and picture books. We have enough famous pictures, story pictures, beautiful colored prints and picture books to delight the soul of any child—and how much more do our children enjoy them. The reading room is in constant use, while every child old enough has the privilege of drawing books to read at the cottage.
In addition we have tried to make the library a sort of center of our school activities. Here the finest work from the different school rooms is exhibited and here the children bring their outdoor specimens, their collections of various sorts and athletic trophies for exhibition. We are planning to use the old library room as a club room where such exhibits may be kept. I am also looking forward to reopening our winter evening clubs with new interest because of our new library. I have in mind a travel club for older children, a scrap book club for younger children, and perhaps an art club.
The children have already made a fine collection of classified scrapbooks; one showing pictures of famous men, one of animals, one of countries, (with a special one for the United States), one of the occupations and several others of value both in the school room and in the library. We have found this a profitable use of all our old magazines.
Another prominent feature in connection with our new room, by which we encourage good care of books is the Library League. All who draw books are enrolled as members by which they agree to treat their books with respect, expecting otherwise the just curtailing of their privileges. This seems to take the place of a fine system which of course is impossible here.
The business end of the library has been kept up according to approved standards since Miss Cary's reorganization in 1909, and the children are fast becoming accustomed to the working of a modern library.
The shelves contain 2,218 books of which 328 have been added during the past two years, over a hundred of these being picture books and easy books for youngest readers. Since the last report, monthly records show a total circulation of 6,070 books with a average monthly circulation of 303. Since the new room has been equipped this average monthly circulation has been increased from 226 to 584.
The largest circulation was in picture books, juvenile fiction, animal and fairy books, and we believe for the normal child that is what is most needed. However, it is encouraging to notice that the average monthly circulation of history books, books of travel, and books of biography has increased. The percent of readers to the school enrollment approximated 85.
Current periodicals including adult, and practically all approved children's magazines, now number 22.
I cannot overestimate the scope of a children's library in such an institution as ours. Considering the fact that so large a number of our children go into farm and rural homes where perhaps encouragement to good reading is not over abundant, considering also the fact that the great majority of children who came to us have never seen the inside of such a library, I consider the field of a librarian boundless and the opportunity thereby to implant culture and refinement in the minds of our children unlimited.
I hope in the future, thanks to the generous funds allowed us by the state and to the enthusiastic co-operation of the teachers and superintendent, to make the library still more effective as an educative and normal nfluence.
S. GLADYS CHUTE,
FIELD WORK. What is done at the institution is only a small part of the work. The greater part is in the field comprising the whole state. The placingout plan outlined in the law for the guidance of the management has been followed from the beginning. It is believed that for normal healthy children the family home is the best place. It is the place where little children deprived of their natural parents can best find the nurture, the care, the share of affection which is their due.
It is recognized that the care and training given the children in the Institution is of great importance, yet for the largest expression of the institution's usefulness, we must look beyond its mission as a custodial or an educational institution to its work of placing the children committed to its guardianship in the homes of our good citizens where they will be reared amid the activities of a pure, clean respectable home life, and be given the advantages of an education in our public schools. Therefore, all other departments are adjusted to promote the work of the placing-out department.
That this work has been actively carried on is indicated by the records which show 391 to have been placed in 1911 and 464 in 1912, a total of 855 in the two years including replacements. This is an average of 33 per month in 1911, and 38 per month in 1912.
It is interesting to note that notwithstanding the large number received and placed out the average number under guardianship has not increased for four years. This is accounted for by the fact that many are annuaily reaching the age of eighteen when they are discharged from guardianship, and others through legal restoration to parents, or adoption, are passing from our supervision.
No part of the work has received more earnest attention than the placing-out work. Every applicant for a child has been carefully investigated and his home. inspected and the results recorded in this office. This record contains the information upon which is based the approval or disapproval of the application and upon which the decision is made that every home approved is a good one for the particular child selected for it. This record also indicates the racial and religious affiliations of the child and the family,—for we have to consider these questions in deference to the wishes of the parties concerned and in obedience to the provisions of the Juvenile Court laws under which children are assigned to our guardianship.
For various reasons less than one half of the applicants for children have been supplied after investigation. Care has been, taken to make sure that children removed from the custody of unfit parents have not been placed in unfit foster homes.
Responsibility does not end with the placing of the children in homes however much care may have been taken in the investigation and selection of the homes. This board's policy has been to continue its çare of the children after they have gone from the institution by careful supervision through visits to them in their homes by its agents. A written report of each child visited has been made and filed in this office. Frequent visits have been made to many, and at least one visit a year to all. Experience has shown that frequent visits are more necessary during the first years after placement than after the child has become well established in the home and community.
The reports of our state agents who are charged with the duty of investigating applicants and supervising the placed-out children, give in. teresting accounts of their work, and are herewith presented.
IMPROVEMENTS. The improvements authorized by the last legislature have either been made or are now under way, among which are a new cottage for babies, an addition to the cow barn, the renewal of tile floors in the kitchens and bathrooms, fire escapes for the schoolhouse and four cottages not previously supplied, mechanical refrigerating plant, mechanical stokers, new engine and generator, and domestic science apparatus.
These improvements when completed will add materially to the efficiency of our equipment. The new cottage will afford far better accommodations for babies than we have heretofore had. It is our desire that this building shall have the latest and most approved equipment for the purpose it is to serve.
The mechanical stokers, which were installed in the fall of 1910, are of the underfeed automatic type and have proven to be very satisfactory in operation and a means of economizing fuel.
The playground apparatus which was provided for by the legislature of 1909, but not installed until the spring of 1912, has brought to the children genuine pleasure and benefit and has been of great value in promoting contentment and good order among them.
A BROADER POLICY DESIRABLE. While the policy of state care for dependent children established in Minnesota has been well sustained and consistently carried out, there is now a demand for a broadening of this policy to include in its provisions better opportunities for vocational training and closer co-operation with private child-helping agencies. is not proposed to interfere with the established placing-out plan by the extension of vocational training in the school, but to help it and make it more efficient. If a boy is destined to a farm home, for instance, he should be given a course in agriculture to fit him to be successful on a farm.
The work that is being done by all agencies should be better correlated and there should be co-operation' by which all who are in service for dependent children shall pull together in a common cause. With a farm of 320 acres of good land we see no reason why the state public school cannot co-operate with and help other institutions for children in the matter of agricultural training, and, when additional equipment shall be provided in other vocational training. There are in all such in. stitutions, children who have failed in homes and been returned or who cannot be successfully placed, who should be given a course of special training to fit them to hold their places or to support themselves. A plan could be adopted for the transfer from other institutions to this of such children as might profit by vocational training here.
In order to carry out such a plan, funds would be required for the construction and equipment of an industrial building, a cottage for industrial students, the enlargement of the dining room and the attendant increase in current expenses. Appropriations for this purpose are included in our list of appropriations recommended. Whether the proposed plan of co-operation with other institutions is carried out or not, the facilities for the industrial training of children who come directly to this school should be extended.
The need for better facilities for industrial training for dependent children was recognized by one branch of the last legislature by the passage of a bill carrying an appropriation of $150,000. to establish and equip a new state institution to meet such needs. The object sought to be accomplished by that measure could be attained at less cost by enlarging present opportunities at this school.
A resolution setting forth the position of this board on the question of a broader state policy for dependent children was unanimously adopted at its meeting, April 12, 1912, as follows:
Whereas, Communications have been received expressing the desire of the board of trustees and superintendent of the Washburn Memorial Orphan Asylum of Minneapolis, for closer co-operation between that institution and this whereby children may be transferred from that institution to this to receive industrial training as their needs and fitness may indicate and whereby children placed in foster homes from that institution may be visited and supervised by the agents of this school, and
Whereas, There appears to be a strong demand for better facilities for giving vocational instruction to dependent and neglected children in this state, therefore
Resolved, That this board favors closer co-operation between the State Public School and the Washburn Memorial Orphan Asylum and all other child-caring agencies of this state, better correlation of the work in behalf of dependent and neglected children by all agencies, a broadening of the policy of the State Public School and an enlargement of its equipment to afford adequate provision for giving vocational training and the opening of the school under proper safe-guards to children from other institutions desiring to place them here.
Other institutions have indicated their desire for such co-operation. Official action was taken by the board of trustees of the Washburn home of Minneapolis by the adoption of the following resolutions at a meeting held May 28, 1912:
Whereas, It has been brought to the attention of this board that the authorities connected with the management of the State Public School, have expressed a willingness to co-operate with the management of the Washburn Memorial Orphan Asylum, in receiving by transfer, for further care and training certain children selected for such benefits, and
Whereas, It is proposed to so extend the facilities for the industrial training of children at the State Public School as to recognize choice and capacity for vocational opportunities, and thus increase the early power of self support, without sacrifice of necessary scholastic training, therefore
Resolved, First, That we approve the general plan for such co-operation between the management of the two institutions, and authorize the superintendent to report to the board through the Children's committee, from time to time, the names of such children as may be deemed suitable candidates for transfer to the State Public School, and for the approval of the trustees and judicial authorities.
Second, That the secretary of the board shall furnish the superintendent of the State Public School at Owatonna with a certified copy of these proceedings.