Children and Youth in Limbo: A Search for Connections

By Nadia Ehrlich Finkelstein | Go to book overview

10
Campus-Based Residence: A New Purpose and Function

ORIGINS AND ISSUES

Campus-based residential care today finds itself in a strange position, one which badly needs clarification. Historically, campus-based residential care, previously known as institutional care, has been deeply rooted in the American orphanage, with the mission to care for dependent and neglected children. The further thrust of institutional care for youth, perhaps legitimately so, has been to remove children from environments in which they were victims of adult exploitation and abuse. The American orphanage was usually founded by philanthropic individuals and sectarian groups. These rescue and caring missions were likely to be joined to a punitive or moralistic attitude toward the adults who had not provided what was considered adequate care and nurturance for their children [ Carlo 1985:15].

During the 1930s and 1940s, large congregate orphanages became cottagebased "children's homes." Many child-caring institutions in the United States today still take this form, where children whose parents are disconnected from them, or only marginally connected, do grow up. Other institutions became treatment centers for the severely emotionally disturbed or acting-out youngster. Of course, there were, and always will be, highly specialized institutions for children with handicaps such as blindness, deafness, or severe mental retardation.

In recent years, the care provided children in institutions has been under severe attack [ New York Times 1987], sometimes excessive. In the best institutions, staff have often made a life commitment with major personal sacrifice. These institutions had strong values that allowed children to develop a sense of belonging. Some of our very valued citizens come from

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