UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

The beginnings of foster care in British Columbia : 1900-1930 O’Donnell, Dorothy-Jean


Although much has been written in the field of family history since Phillipe Aires' Centuries of Childhood (1962), the study of foster care in its various forms has received less attention. Themes concerning orphans and foster children do, however, appear guite often in literature and dramatic works. Two academic articles from Iceland and Brazil respectively discuss historical material relating to foster children and orphans in the 19th century. Themes from these articles, about the role of kin and neighbours in foster care, and the use of orphans to meet labour shortages, are discussed as background to the B.C. study. The constitutional-legal framework and social welfare policies adopted in British Columbia in the 1900-1930 period were under Anglo-American influence, with influences from Ontario being most direct. B.C. established some level of economic security for women and children with the establishment of women's pensions in 1920 and in 1927 the B.C. Survey of Child Welfare made recommendations for supervised foster care, that is, foster care subsidized by government and supervised by social workers. Although the legislation mandated "approved foster homes" as early as 1901, and envisaged temporary placement with children's aid societies (CAS) until such homes could be found, the annual reports and discharge summaries of the CASs, and the records of the Superintendent of Neglected Children show that this option was largely ignored. Not until overcrowding and medical crises forced the issue did CASs turn to foster care as an option.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.