Foster Care History 1940s – 1950’s

Cod Liver Oil, Outgrown Shoes and Visitors – Foster Care History 1940s – 1950s

Long before foster care organizations like Foster and Adoptive Family Services were established, life was very different for foster children and foster parents than it is today. This information on Foster Care History in the 1940s – 1950s is reprinted from the New Jersey Foster Parents Association’s (now known as Foster and Adoptive Family Services, or FAFS) twentieth anniversary program.

Foster Care History – Medicine, Nutrition and Clothing

foster care historyA 1942 publication of “A Home Should Provide” by the State Board of Child Guardians, suggested to foster parents that “Cod liver oil should be given to children under four years of age from September through May, and in certain instances throughout the year.” (Cod liver oil was thought to boost the immune system and protect children from colds and flu.)

Back then, the agency provided milk to foster children through contract with a delivery company and foster parents had to advise the agency promptly if the milk delivery was irregular in coming.

Clothing for children in foster care was provided through a large supply house run by the Board. Foster parents were urged to carefully measure their foster children twice a year so their clothing requests could be submitted. Foster parents also had to plan for a child’s foot growth at least once a month in advance to be sure that a replacement pair of shoes could be obtained in time.

Foster Care History – Caseworkers

Case managers were called “Visitors.” Foster parents were cautioned that the Visitor always knew best. Because telephones were not in common use, letters were the usual form of communication between the Visitor and the foster parent. For permission to obtain routine and special medical care (emergency medical care could be authorized by the foster parent) or authorization for reimbursement for expenses like hair cuts, prescription medication or cod live oil foster parents had to keep careful records.

As you can see, many things have changed for the better for foster children and foster parents since the 1940s-1950s. Check back for more posts on foster care history in NJ before the establishment of Foster and Adoptive Family Services.

5 thoughts on “Foster Care History 1940s – 1950’s

  1. looking for information on montclair new jersey foster care from 1935-1956. My husband was in the system. his social worker was Ms. Elizabeth Gilkerson.

  2. My father was in the foster care program in the 1940’s. He worked fields. And if he didn’t pick enough potatoes they would electrocute his hands. To this day his hands show frost bitten ragged knobs that have taken him through life. He would literally walk miles to school in snow storms. He finally ran away in the 6th grade and joined the many orphans and other foster children on the railways. He doesn’t talk about it much, but I can see where the foster care program needed a regeneration, and I am grateful for the people involved in changing history for future misplaced children.

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