By Rachel G. Fuchs
Publication through Fuchs, Rachel G.
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Extra resources for Abandoned children: foundlings and child welfare in nineteenth-century France
The children, in turn, by their labor, would repay the state for the costs incurred in caring for them. The state had devised a system that, on paper, assured that the children abandoned in Paris were at least given a chance for survival. Sending the children out to foster parents proved to be the most cost- and labor-efficient method of maintaining the thousands of children abandoned each year. This system provided not necessarily the best care for the children, but the cheapest, and the one with the most diffuse allocation of responsibility.
The new notions of charity and the new elevation of the place and innocence of children converged in the seventeenth centuryand led to new sets of problems. Granted, the strictures on illegitimacy may have reduced the number of illegitimate births, but children born out of wedlock were wanted neither by the mother nor by society. The Catholic charity of the Counter-Reformation promoted the care of illegitimate foundlings in order both to prevent infanticide and to protect the innocent * The Ladies of Charity (Dames de la Charité) were a group of approximately five or six secular women of wealth who devoted their lives to doing charitable works, including caring for abandoned children.
Governmental intervention and responsibility increased accordingly. To comprehend the treatment of abandoned children, the issues raised regarding their care, and the conflicts they engendered in the nineteenth century, the fate of unwanted children before the landmark decree of 1811 which regulated state provisions for abandoned children, needs to be understood. That decree provided the framework for the ensuing century. Medieval and Early Modern Child Welfare Frère Guy took the first initiatives in caring for the poor and the abandoned of society in 1180 in Montpellier, when he founded the first hospice or shelter for the sick and les enfants exposés.
Abandoned children: foundlings and child welfare in nineteenth-century France by Rachel G. Fuchs