I just read a very interesting article by Howard Husock about Charles Loring Brace’s work to help poor children in New York City. I had not heard much about Charles Loring Brace beforehand, but the article explains his life and the work he did in the 19th Century.
Most notably, Brace helped alleviate child poverty by starting a massive foster-care program which consisted of moving poor kids from the streets of New York City into midwestern farm families. He sent over 50,000 orphans and street children out west to live under the “healthy influence of family life.” He also founded the Children’s Aid Society. I found a PBS documentary about his work: American Experience – The Orphan Trains
He also created “Lodging Houses” for newsboys and other street-kids. These houses took in over 170,000 boys.
Brace focused on teaching the children to take care of themselves as much as possible. He worked to get them into school. He focused on instilling values in the children that would help them make smart decisions throughout their life.
After reading about Brace, I admire him because he did not spend too much effort in advocacy but instead focused on direct action. Nowadays, many anti-poverty groups focus their efforts heavily on advocating policy change in government. But Brice focused more on actually helping the children.