Trends in Social Work, 1874-1956: A History Based on the Proceedings of the National Conference of Social Work

By Frank J. Bruno | Go to book overview

23
CHILDREN'S CODES

THE WIDESPREAD and diverse interest in children had led to the establishment of many organizations equipped to provide for their care or protection. These took the form of institutions for delinquents, defectives, handicapped, and, too often, dependent children; and every important urban center had agencies for furnishing services to these same classes of children. When the juvenile court entered the scene, some of its legal personnel were astonished at the chaotic aggregation of child welfare agencies. "Some are now antiquated, some are meaningless, many, excellent in themselves, are to the general mass, unrelated and conflicting." In these words, Judge George S. Addams, of the Juvenile Court of Cleveland, described the situation that he found in 1910. Succinctly, he characterized the uncertainty facing the bench in its use of these "unrelated and conflicting" child welfare resources. To meet the challenge, he suggested that all child welfare workers in a state get together to codify the laws in their field. "If there is a code of evidence and of commercial paper and of Insurance Laws, why not a Children's Code?"--these were the words of a lawyer, accustomed to see order and dependability in the materials with which he dealt, who, as a juvenile judge, saw only disorder and nondependability in the material with which as a juvenile judge he was concerned. Judge Addams went on to say:

A Judge can commit [a child] to a State institution . . . but . . . cannot compel the institution to receive it. If suffering from two defects . . . the probabilities are no institution will receive it.

-214-

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