Child and Youth Care Forum

, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 393–412 | Cite as

Awakening from the dream: The experience of childhood in protestant orphan homes in Australia, Canada, and the United States

  • David Maunders


This article is based on data from interviews with Americans, Canadians, and Australians in their thirties, forties, and seventies, all of whom spent part of their childhood in institutions of care through no fault of their own. Whilst no claim is made that they are representative, their experiences in care and later life suggest that similarities in institutional care transcend the management and location of the institution. These experiences can also challenge the “certainties” (or “accepted cultural truths”) of the child welfare system. Entering the institution was confusing and traumatic, and little was done to ease the transition. Life was characterized by discipline and corporal punishment, though this was tempered in recent times. Household chores dominated daily routines. There was little possibility of love and affection, and children retreated into solitary pursuits. Many of the respondents found difficulty in developing close personal relationships after leaving care and had to work through anger or confusion. Their advice to future child care workers laid emphasis on the need for genuine love and affection, stability, and reasonable limits. The effect is to reinforce the suggestion that the knowledge and skill of child care workers must be synthesized with their approach, style, stability and capacity for emotional support.


Child Care School Psychology Recent Time Emotional Support Child Welfare 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Hendrick, H. (1994).Child welfare: England 1872–1989. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Jaggs, D. (1986).Neglected and criminal foundations of child welfare legislation in Victoria. Melbourne: Phillip Institute of Technology.Google Scholar
  3. Jordan, F.E. (1943). The Sheltering Arms—A Protestant Episcopalian home for orphans: A reflection of the changing trends in child care. Plan B Report, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Social Work. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota School of Social Work.Google Scholar
  4. Kendrick, M. (1990).Nobody's children: The foster care crisis in Canada. Toronto: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  5. Purvey, D. (1990). Alexandra Orphanage and Social Change in British Columbia, 1890s to 1930s. Unpublished master's thesis. Victoria, BC, Canada: University of Victoria.Google Scholar
  6. Rooke, P.T., & Schnell, R.L. (1982–3). Making the way more comfortable: Charlotte Whitton's Child Welfare Career, 1920–48.Journal of Canadian Studies, 17(4), 33–45.Google Scholar
  7. Rooke, P.T., & Schnell, R.L. (1983).Discarding the asylum: From child rescue to welfare state in English Canada, 1800–1950. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.Google Scholar
  8. Sarri, R., & Finn, J. (1991). Child welfare policy and practice: Rethinking the history of our certainties. Unpublished paper. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan.Google Scholar
  9. Smith, B. (1982).Better Off in a Home. Albert Park. Victoria, Australia: Yvonne Burns.Google Scholar
  10. Zmora, N. (1994).Orphanages Reconsidered: Child Care Institutions in Progressive Era Baltimore. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Maunders
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Social Science and Communications, Coburg CampusRoyal Melbourne Institute of TechnologyCoburgAustralia

Personalised recommendations