A Case Study of Fifteen Children Showing How the Catholic Home Bureau Uses Cardinal McCloskey School and Home in Meeting the Needs of Children

Nancy S Malvagna, Fordham University


Background of the Study. The basic and most essential unit of social organization is the family. No other relationship is thought to equal that which reaches its highest expression in the normal family group. Each year, however, there are many dependent and neglected children that are deprived of this most important relationship. In the last decade, statistics show that more than 250,000 children in the United States are cared for in child care institutions. Of these, the dependent and neglected constitute approximately 150,000. "Still other children, probably in excess of 120,000, are now receiving care in foster family homes." The care given to dependent and neglected children today, and our philosophy in regard to these children, is the result of many years of work in the field of child welfare. In the early days when slavery and feudalism were prevalent, children were considered the property of the lord as were their parents. If something happened to a child’s parents he was still cared for by the lord since he belonged to the estate. The child, however, was important only Insofar as he could give help. If he was not useful in the eyes of the lord, his only recourse was the monasteries, abbeys, and churches. However, in most cases the child did remain on the land. Although they were not treated with recognition of individual needs and capacities, and the affectional relationships were of only secondary consideration, it did give most children a sense of belongingness. With the breakdown of the feudal system, personal obligation between the lord and his serfs ceased. People lost their feudal rights to care and consideration when sick or in poverty. Young children who could not work were given no consideration. Some attempts were made by people in small localities to support the dependent with charitable gifts but this was insufficient. The increasing complexity of community life and Increasing migration severed the natural bonds of families and friends, and neighbors became strangers. These circumstances brought about enactment of the English Poor Laws In 1601. This set a precedent by defining responsibility for certain classes of children. "Who were made homeless, whose parents were destitute, or children who were grossly mistreated or neglected." The responsibility for these children became a public concern. About this time many private philanthropies developed to meet the needs of children whose families could not support them. These methods were brought into the colonies when they became aware of the need for providing maintenance for dependent and neglected children. Almshouse care, apprenticeship, and Indenture became very common ways of caring for children who were orphaned and destitute by the wars and by the struggles in a new country.

Subject Area

Social studies education|American history|Social work

Recommended Citation

Malvagna, Nancy S, "A Case Study of Fifteen Children Showing How the Catholic Home Bureau Uses Cardinal McCloskey School and Home in Meeting the Needs of Children" (1954). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI30670778.