« PředchozíPokračovat »
team. My expenses have been as follows: Railroad fares, $510.90; livery, $686.10; hotel, $550.50; books, stationery and printing, $6.65; telegraph and telephone, $7.95; incidentals, $29.07, an average cost per visit of $4.35.
The large number of special cases assigned to me, the fact that an entire month was devoted to special work of investigating applicants for children, the increased cost of livery and hotel rates, account for the increased cost per visit over former years. Special cases require and are always given prompt attention, often necessitating leaving our regular work and making long expensive trips to remote parts of the state. One stubborn guardian who was inclined to put his own interpretation on the plain provisions of his contract made it necessary for me to spend three days and travel more than four hundred miles in order to get a fair settlement for the boy who had been a faithful worker and was entitled to all that was stipulated in the contract and which was finally secured for him. I have endeavored to visit such children as were approaching their eighteenth birthday as near that time as possible in order to see that they received their money and the required “two good suits of clothes;' and in cases where they contemplated leaving their homes I invariably, in the presence of their guardians, informed them of their rights in this respect.
The scarcity of help, especially for farm work, enters into our work very mate
lly and is often the cause of much trouble between child and guardian. This is especially true where we have placed older boys. There are people in every community who either never have learned or have forgotten the Golden Rule,—at any rate do not apply it—that in order to obtain help will tell our boys they are foolish to remain in their homes on an indenture contract when they can earn "big wages" and be much better off financially by leaving their homes. As a rule such parties are not responsible people and could not bear an investigation, but they succeed in making the boy discontented and often in causing him to leave his home. His guardian who has treated him well for several years feels the injustice and refuses to take him back and the boy is the looser.
Within the past two years I have met a large number of our former wards occupying responsible positions as teachers, merchants, bankers, mechanics, bookkeepers, railway clerks,' etc., and many of them have accumulated considerable property, established homes and are raising nice families. I believe that if a complete historic census of all who have been wards of this institution could be taken, it would make a very interesting volume and would convince those who are opposed to placing children in family homes, that the home with proper environments is the best place for a child.
Some guardians fail when taking a child because they expect too much of it and do not stop to consider that the child has come into their home a personal stranger and a stranger to the ways of the household and community. He may just recently have been removed from the only friend he has known and from an environment far different from his new surroundings. It often means an entire transformation in the child's life and he is confronted with the problems of learning what is expected of him in his new home and forgetting the things he has learned in his former surroundings. Not all who are financially able and morally fit make good guardians for children.
The bond of love and affection between child and guardian is often touching in the extreme and disproves the contention of some, that one can not love other people's children. Not long ago I visited a home in the western part of the state where we have two children. Prior to the children's coming into the room the foster mother had told me that she contemplated selling her property and moving out west where she has an only sister living. She wanted to know what we would do in regard to the children, should she want to make the change, as her going would depend on whether we would allow her to take the children with her or not. She said that nothing had been said to the children about, the contemplated change because she did not wish to disappoint them should we refuse to allow them to leave the state. I told Mrs. C. before the children arrived that I would be glad to recommend to you that she be given permission to take the children with her wherever she chose to make her home, but suggested that the question as to whether they wanted to leave their schoolmates and friends and go to a strange country with the foster mother be put to test. I asked Anna, who is about fourteen, what she would like to do should her foster mother decide to make a change in her home. She looked a little perplexed for a moment as if she did not quite understand the situation, but presently in a very decided manner made this reply: "I will go wherever mamma goes and her friends will be my friends. I shall never want to leave mamma.”
P. G. SWANSON.
MISS MCGREGOR'S REPORT. The work for the last two years has taken me over a large territory. Completing the 6th district which includes Ramsey, Hennepin, Anoka, Isanti, Chisago and Washington, I have visited the second district: Wabasha, Goodhue, Rice, Dakota, Le Sueur and Scott Counties; the fourth district: Martin, Jackson, Nobles, Rock, Pipestone, Murray, Cottonwood and Watowan Counties; the fifth district: Nicollet, Brown, Redwood, Lyon and Lincoln Counties; eighth: Benton, Sherburne, Stearns, Pope, Stevens, Traverse, Grant, Douglas, Todd, Morrison, Crow Wing, Cass, Wadena, Ottertail and Wilkin Counties; and the ninth including Hubbard, Becker, Clay, Norman, Mahnomen, Clearwater, Beltrami, Polk, Red Lake, Marshall, Kittson and Roseau Counties. The work in the eighth district is not completed. This leaves the seventh district the only part of the state not regularly visited by me since beginning this work.
In the fourth district I found conditions generally good. failures in the northern and western parts of the state did not extend here. The farmers are prosperous and the majority of the children are on farms. I had the pleasure of visiting many former wards, some in business, others in their own homes, and in some cases applicants for children. The fifth district has been in the crop failure belt and I believe that is the reason why there has been fewer children placed here than usual. Three years of dry weather has left the comfortably well-to-do in straitened cir
cumstances, especially near the Dakota line. However, the situations here are fairly good. There are few cases of short schooling. Conditions in the eastern counties of the second district are in most every case excellent, prosperous times, full schooling, proper treatment and happy situations. One child, graduating from the eighth grade at thirteen, had not missed a day or been tardy at school since coming to this home six years ago.
He has now $42.00 in the savings bank and is doing first year high school work. The same family have legally adopted a little girl, now six years of age, and they are doing as well by her. I visited one of our twelve-year old girls in this vicinity. Her foster mother was not at home and it was about dinner time. Upon her invitation I remained and she prepared a meal worthy of one twice her age. Another, a girl who had no chance previous to coming to the school, and who had been cruelly treated, neglected and finally deserted, was placed in a family where she had schooling through her sixteenth year. She then devoted her time to learning to cook, to sew, and to generally being a home maker. She will soon go into one of her own, competent to do her part. Another from this district has completed the high school with credit and will enter college this fall. She expects to earn her own way throughout the course. In the western part of this district it has been necessary to impress the necessity of full schooling upon guardians. Our children often average better than their own in attendance. It seems to be the standard of the community. There are good situations here also, one family has four of our children, two legally adopted, and are doing well by all.
In the ninth district the children are widely scattered and on the whole th, homes are good. There are not many children placed in this district although many apply for them. Farm life is seldom desirable for our children in a new country unless the applicant has lived there long enough and has the means to make improvements, which many of the applicants have: not.
The eigthth district is large, with many children and varying conditions. A boy in Morrison county graduated from the eighth grade with the highest record of any child completing the work given in the rural schools in that county. His record in the agricultural department was excellent. This boy is in a home with his brother and sister. He plans to go to the Agricultural college when he completes high school, and his guardian is as enthusiastic as he is about it.
The sixth or city district constantly presents varying conditions. The homes for babies are generally permanent and satisfactory. The court work takes much time and is of importance. The children returned to relatives are the greatest problem here. I am still of the opinion that the country is the best place for the large majority of our children. Infants and those desiring special school advantages do well in the city, but for half grown boys and girls who have had little training, poor food, insufficient fresh air, before coming to the school, the country is the better place. A porch on a second or third story flat building is a poor substitute for a garden where not only pure air is afforded but healthful' occupation as well, which is of no small importance.
The large number of boys and girls who are doing high school, normal and college work deserves special mention. Others who have completed courses are teaching or holding creditable positions in other occupations. One visited recently is principal of a high school, another a successful busi
I have made an effort to visit or obtain information about former wards whenever possible and have visited many during this period. These and other cases similar to them are not unusual. A girl who came to the school from the poorest home conditions possible without training, and with a knowledge of the streets, has by constant and patient training, developed not only in her school work but is a competent housekeeper, a good cook and a reliable girl in every respect. She leads her class as a senior in high school, takes an active part in school activities and will no doubt prove a credit to herself and those who have assisted her. Another has shown such musical ability and has applied herself so faithfully in opportunities she has had that her training has been provided for by a recognized musician who believes she has a future. One of our most trying girls mentioned in my last report has since married a man of good habits, industrious and thrifty, and they have a comfortable happy home. These cases and many others similar to them help to keep up courage when dealing with the less promising and weaker sisters who find it so hard to do well. The case of the unusual or perhaps usual girl who needs special counsel, unlimited patience, and tact, a firm but kindly directing influence, is second only in this work in my estimation to the work with the babies.
Much is being said and done at this time in the scientific study of heredity. The most important subject on the scientific horizon is that of eugenics. When definite results from investigation now in progress are ascertained and theories only partly formulated are completed we will doubtless be able to do much that we are not now doing. However, the fact remains that children from impoverished homes, starved and ill-treated before and after birth have come to us and in spite of the handicap of poor parentage and an unequal physical inheritance have developed into citizens of whom the state may well be proud. The trouble with many who discuss inherited tendencies is that they consider the child born from such conditions and remaining there until his habits are formed and disease is contracted, and then consider it is due to inheritance. The large per cent of our children who are received and placed under four years of age and who respond to the life into which they are transplanted indicate beyond any question the right of every child to be well brought up whether or not he has been well born. During this biennial period I have visited and placed in all 88 babies under five years of age, some in ordinary homes, some in the best homes the state has to offer. From this number I am unable to select one who has been a failure.
I am of the opinion that the work with our babies is the most important that we have to do, and while more is being done for the older children in the way of agricultural training, domestic science, playgrounds, athletics, library and reading clubs, it is gratifying to know that the facilities for caring for the babies are increasing and being improved so that they will have a better chance to be physically built up before going into homes that in most cases are permanent where they will receive what by misfortune or adversity has been denied them in their own.
The school question is still before us. Most localities maintain from seven to nine months school each year and during the busy season children are kept out to help. I believe the average attendance has improved. Some of the wise guardians have discovered that much of the discontent and trouble arising in the case of the boys over sixteen years of age can be avoided by paying him wages, at least during the busy season. In other cases it would require the attention of an agent who would arrange for and collect salaries. Boys and in some cases girls become discontented when some one often less competent than they is earning good wages for the same work and $75 or $50 looks small a year or two away. Girls generally are not disturbed about the wage question, but there are disturbing influences hard to cope with in many homes. Many excellent foster parents lack the understanding and sympathy and fail in judgment in dealing with girls during the trying age. If this period can be bridged all generally goes well afterwards. Sometimes it is necessary to remove the child, other times frequent visits from the agent suffices. I found it necessary to transfer one girl five times in three months and finally return her to the school. Others of low grade mentality, who can only hold ordinary homes, and are doing well to become just ordinary citizens need special attention in order that they may receive proper care and are not taken advantage of on account of being below grade.
A number of the older girls work for their board, room and incidental expenses during the school year and earn from $3.50 to $4.00 per week during vacation.
I have visited during this period 729 children, 309 applicants, investigated 143 special cases, accompanied 53 children to homes, returned 14 to the school and transferred 12 to other homes. I have substituted in the office and accompanied children to homes for 4 months. The special cases include visits to children concerning whom complaints as to treatment have been made, or whose conduct has not been satisfactory, visits to Juvenile court, county officials whose duty it is to commit children to the school, probation and humane officers, associated charities and similar organizations, other institutions for the care of children, and the relatives of children concerning whom we have insufficient information, also attending court with children who have been called as witnesses. In general all cases not classified as visits to children or applicants, accompanying, transferring or returning children, are listed as special. It is difficult to adequately indicate the work in figures,--for instance the investigation of one applicant necessitated two weeks' work, over 60 people being interviewed, 742 miles traveled by rail, besides street car, livery and walking. This was the case of a mother who applied for her children.
I have expended for railroad and street car fares 68.51; hotel $722.80, livery and bus $575.15; telephone and telegraph, $11.75; incidentals, which includes funeral expenses and doctor's bill for one of the children, $39.08, with salary making a total expenditure of $4,417.31, and a per capita cost
of $3.51. I have traveled 26,284 miles by rail, 4,583 miles by team, besides street car and walking neither of which I can give a correct estimate.
During this time, the work has lost none of its interest and has added much to my understanding and faith in humanity. A discouraged worker