Children and Homelessness in New York 1850’s to the Early 1900’s The homeless children living in New York ranged in age from about six to eighteen, and had little hope of having a successful future. They lived in New York Citys streets and slums, and served as cheap labor for the newspapers, as shoe shiners, and as errand boys (and girls).
The Children’s Aid SocietyCharles Loring Brace was the founder of The Childrens Aid Society, oneof the first societies of its kind that worked to place homeless children infoster families.He also held Christmas dinners for the homeless children at the newsboy lodging homes, andTheodore Roosevelt, a young New York police commissioner at the time ,could be seen at someof these dinners, as his father was a co-founder with Brace of the Children’s Aid Society.
The Orphan TrainsWith an estimated 30,000 homeless children in New York, Brace proposed a solution that would take thesechildren out of the city to live and work on farms out west. He proposed to ship these children via trainacross the U.S. to be placed in foster care families.The older children would be paid for their services and would provide needed help to people on their farms.The Orphan Train Movement lasted from 1853 to the early 1900s, and more than 120,000children were placed. New and controversial at the time, this system is now recognized as the beginningof the foster care system in the United States. (Bowery Boys New York City podcasthttp://www.facebook.com/Boweryboys accessed 12-9-11).