Apparently there existed a practice of sending bastard children to "foster care", typically a village, where village folks received some money from unacknowledged father (?) in some countries during the early modern period.

The context is a very old newspaper article arguing that the above was a social ill.

Was there a corresponding practice in English-speaking world?

Is there a name for this practice?

  • This may be more a question for the History site of Stack Exchange. In which country/society did this happen? Are you able to upload the newspaper article? If you want to repost it on History I will take it up. Sounds interesting. – WS2 Nov 26 '15 at 9:09
  • Foster carers: gov.uk/foster-carers/becoming-a-foster-carer – user66974 Nov 26 '15 at 9:14
  • @Josh61 That is the modern practice in which the state is involved. The system the OP described is rather different and I would be interested in hearing about it. – WS2 Nov 26 '15 at 9:20
  • @WS2 - "foster care" is the noun of the practice in English speaking countries en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foster_care - Ngram shows it is so called from the 20's -books.google.com/ngrams/… - Modalities of how it is applied may vary from culture to culture. – – user66974 Nov 26 '15 at 9:56
  • @Josh61 Yes foster care is definitely a 20th century term, and the OED does not even have an entry for it. However they have examples of foster meaning the upbringing of a child by other than a natural parent, dating from an entry for uoster-moder (foster-mother) from circa 1275. – WS2 Nov 26 '15 at 10:18

Fostering or foster care are the expressions used:

  • Before 1945, “fostering” referred to numerous arrangements in which children were cared for in homes other than their own. The point of the term was to contrast institutional care with family placements. The case for foster care was articulated by nineteenth-century child-savers, including Charles Loring Brace, publicized by the orphan trains, and advanced by states that experimented with placing-out children rather than consigning them to orphanages.

  • In the early twentieth century, the cause was taken up by reformers like Henry Dwight Chapin, a New York pediatrician and founder of the Speedwell Society whose wife established one of the country’s first specialized adoption agencies, the Alice Chapin Nursery, in 1910. Henry Chapin circulated statistics showing that orphanages literally sickened and killed alarming numbers of children. His conviction that “a poor home is often better than a good institution” spread quickly among child welfare and public health professionals, but in 1910, there were well over 1000 orphanages in the United States, and their average size had grown considerably since the late nineteenth century. The campaign to make families the only acceptable places to raise children still had a long way to go.


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