The Jewish Children’s Bureau (JCB) was established in the early 1930s. Staffed by professionals, its role was to “provide protection and supervision for neglected, dependent, illegitimate and maladjusted Jewish children.” This included arranging adoptions, placing children in foster homes, supervising children in their own homes, providing housekeeping services and assisting unmarried mothers. Prior to the JCB’s formation, welfare work with children in the Jewish community was performed by untrained staff and volunteers at the Hebrew Maternity Aid Society and the Jewish Children’s Home (JCH). Both the JCB and the JCH were members of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies and received most of their funding from them.
The JCB’s creation represented a move towards the professionalization of social work, a shift away from institutionalizing children in orphanages to placing them in foster homes, and the Federation’s need to cut costs. The agency’s formation came at a time when the relationship between the JCH and the Federation was poor. Since the late 1920s, the Federation received a grant from the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) for the cost of maintaining children at the JCH. However, CAS had become increasingly unhappy with the policies and practices of the JCH, such as allowing parents to visit children and returning children to their homes after they turned 16. In addition, the Federation and CAS were unhappy that the JCH was resistant to developing a foster home program even though this was becoming the professional norm.
When the JCB was created the JCH became a subcommittee of the agency. In 1934, the JCB took over control of the JCH’s administration and case work after a Mental Hygiene survey of the JCH’s conditions found that its Superintendent lacked the training necessary for her job. On February 22, 1935, the Federation finally closed the JCH to cut costs and focus on a foster care program. A year later, the JCB amalgamated with the Jewish Big Brother Movement and the Jewish Big Sister Committee to form the Jewish Child Welfare Association.
Scope and Content
Sous-fonds consists of textual records documenting the activities of the Jewish Children's Bureau and the closure and operation of the Jewish Children's Home in its final years. Included is correspondence, meeting agendas, surveys, financial records and news articles. Sous-fonds is divided into the following series: 1. Board of Trustees; 2. Executive Director; 3. Adoption; 4. Foster care; 5. Finance and accounting; 6. Human Resources; 7. Building administration; 8. Special projects, studies and surveys; 9. Publicity; and, 10. Liaison with other social welfare organizations.
Partially closed. Researchers must receive permission from the OJA Director and the head of Jewish Family and Child prior to accessing some of the records.