The Early 20th Century

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The 20th Century brought great changes, both in child welfare practices and in the two organizations that would ultimately combine to become Graham Windham. In 1900, the Orphan Asylum sold the Riverside Drive property and used the proceeds to purchase a 40-acre riverfront site in Hastings-on-Hudson in Westchester Country. In 1902, it opened its new facility which incorporated separate, small, home-like residential units supervised by house parents. This “cottage system” represented a revolutionary innovation at the time and would serve as a model for child care institutions across the country. In 1910, the Half-Orphan Society received a donation of a 178-acre farm in Windham, N.Y. This property became a summer residence for the children in the Society’s care; a place where they could participate in sports and experience life in the country.

The early 20th Century also saw great strides being made in the world of child welfare. The rights of states to regulate relations between parents and children were established, giving the states the authority to pass laws prohibiting child abuse and neglect. Foster care and family preservation were recognized as the preferred means of caring for orphans and children whose families were unable to care for them. The first federal children’s bureau was established and, in 1909, the first White House Conference on Children was convened.