Children's Aid Societies.Within recent years the attention of the public has been drawn to the needs of dependent or neglected children, particularly the latter, who, while nominally possessed of a home, are permitted to grow up in an environment where they are almost certain to become criminals or professional paupers. Many of the states, proceeding on the theory that it is easier and better to train the child than to reform the adult, have established houses of detention, juvenile courts, and similar institutions, and have given great encouragement to private societies engaged in caring for such children.
In this work, Kansas has kept pace with the more progressive ideas in the other states, as her reformatory, industrial schools, etc., bear witness, while from the early days of settlement in the state various private and religious societies have done benevolent work of a most important character in caring for and providing homes for dependent and neglected children.
As an encouragement to such societies, an act was passed by the legislature on March 15, 1901, which defined "Children's Aid Society," as "any duly organized and incorporated society, which had for its object the protection of children from cruelty, and the care and control of neglected and dependent children." The act provided that "any constable, sheriff, police or other police officer, may apprehend without warrant" and bring before the court, as neglected, any childapparently under the age of fourteen years, if a boy, or sixteen, if a girlwho is dependent upon the public for support, if found begging, receiving alms, thieving, or sleeping at night in the open air; or who is found wandering about late at night, not having any home or settled place of abode or proper guardianship; or who is found dwelling with a thief, drunkard or vagabond, or other dissolute person; or who may be an orphan or deserted by parents; or having a single parent undergoing imprisonment for crime.
Any child apprehended by an officer may be brought before the proper court within three days and the case investigated. If the child is found to be neglected the court may order its delivery to "such children's aid society or institution" as in his judgment is best suited to care for it.
By this act the court has authority to appoint probation officers, whose duty it is to make investigations concerning the children brought before the court, report the same and take charge of the child before and after the trial. When a child is placed in charge of an aid society, the society becomes its legal guardian, and is "authorized to secure for such children legal adoption in such families as may be approved by the society on a written contract for their education in the public schools." These contracts cover the entire period of the child's minority, but the right is reserved to withdraw the child from custody whenever its welfare requires.
The trustees of charitable institutions may transfer children to aid societies, in order to have the society find homes for them.
Any person over the age of sixteen years, who has charge of a child, who willfully ill treats, neglects, abandons or exposes such child to ill treatment or neglect, is subject to a fine or imprisonment at the discretion of the court. If it is suspected that a child is being ill treated, the proper officials may authorize any person to search for the child and when found, take it to a place of safety until brought before the court. When any county board commits a child to an aid society to care for and provide with a home, the county may pay the society a reasonable sum, not to exceed $50, for the temporary care of such child.
Section 13 of the act provides that children under the age of sixteen, who are charged with offenses against the laws of the state, or brought before the court by the provisions of this act, are not "to be confined in the jails, lockups or police cells used for ordinary criminals," and the municipalities are required to make separate provision for their custody. No societies, except those incorporated under the laws of Kansas, are allowed to place a child in a home within the the state unless permission to do is first obtained from the proper state authorities. Under the operations of this law a number of children's aid societies have been formed in the state, and by their careful systematic work, hundreds of children have been taken from unwholesome or immoral surroundings and placed in an atmosphere where they may become useful citizens.Pages 330-332 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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