TASK1(A7) History

TASK1(A7) History

Housing for children – a history in Europe

 Groups of children in each school can work on the rights of children to housing (and health) throughout history.


  • residential institution devoted to the care of orphans—children whose biological parents are deceased or otherwise unable or unwilling to take care of them,
  • traditional orphanage system can often be detrimental to the psychological development of affected children,
  • in around 400 AD, Romans opened the first orphanage.

Foster care

  • system in which a minor has been placed into a ward, group home, or private home of a state-certified caregiver, referred to as a “foster parent” or with a family member approved by the state,
  • the institution, group home or foster parent is compensated for expenses unless with a family member,
  • foster parents have to undergo training provided by the responsible authority and/or the service foster care agency.


  • whilst some EU Member States have a long history of adoption, in others it is a relatively recent phenomenon,
  • In ancient Rome abandoned children were often picked up for slavery and composed a significant percentage of the Empire’s slave supply,
  • wealthy families that were sonless would adopt older boys or men to provide them with male heirs,
  • In the middle Ages the bloodlines became paramount for inheritance,
  • Catholic Church began to encourage adoptions in the interest of abandoned and orphaned children

The great philosopher Plato once said:

“Orphans should be placed under the care of public guardians.

Men should have a fear of the loneliness of orphans and of the souls of their departed parents.

A man should love the unfortunate orphan of whom he is a guardian as if he were his own child. He should be as careful and as diligent in the management of the orphan’s property as of his own or even more careful still.”


The family is the basic unit of the human community. It is the most optimal institution in which children acquire the necessary emotional background, habits and the ability to orient themselves in social relationships. The family remains an inspiring model for children’s houses in the education and education of children and youth.



The Declaration of the Rights of the Child is based on the postulate that mankind is obliged to give the child the best he has. It contains 10 moral principles to be observed by all the Contracting States and States:

1.The right to equality without distinction of race, religion, origin and status;

2.The right to healthy mental and physical development;

3.Name and nationality; .during a special care for physical, mental or social disability;

4.the right to food, housing and health services;

5.the right of special care in the case of physical, mental or social disability;

6.the right to love, understanding and care;

7.the right to free education, play and recovery;

8.the right to a preferential protection and assistance;

9.the right to protection from neglect, cruelty and exploitation;

10.the right to protection against discrimination and to upbringing in a spirit of tolerance, the degree of abortion

(UN General Assembly, 1959).



The history of care for abandoned children goes deep into the history of human civilization, and apparently no one can tell with certainty where its roots are praying. Society’s attitude towards abandoned children has not always been aimed at protecting and affection for them. Throughout the ancient world, but also the Middle Ages, people in the widest sections of the population (except for the highest ones) did not accept the birth of a child as emotionally concerned as today, and the killing of newborn babies was a common phenomenon.

The reason for killing a child was to endanger the very existence of parents, older children or the family community as a whole. According to the natural law applicable to society from prehistory, adult life prevailed over the life of the child and the life of an older child than the younger life. If the child was born during a period of great lack and suffering, it was postponed, left without help in the abandoned place or killed.

Another reason for killing a child right after its birth was his illness or disability. The Sparta´s children belonged to the state, and after the birth, the child was examined and on the basis of this survey it was decided whether the child would live or be postponed and left to its fate. In Athens, the father decided to abandon, sell or sacrifice a child. In Rome, the paternal power was absolute. Father himself  was deciding about the fate of a child, he did not have to answer. A born child was laid at the feet of his father when he lifted it and laid his knees, recognized its right to life. If not, the baby was killed.

Contemporary habits and morals allow for an additional form of disposal of the children, which was the revenge to an enemy. It meant a massacre of  his children, with the aim of complete liquidation of the family (genus). From the mentioned, it is obvious that in this period there were no orphans, abandoned and sick children who would require care of the society. Turnover in  perception of the child as equal human being, is only in the 4th century, when in the sense of the Roman Law in 374 a.d., in Antique society,  the killing  of a child was regarded for the murder.

The laws on the protection of the child in the early middle ages were not so motivated by care of the child itself  rather than care of the soul of parents, who would, by their child´s murder,  commit a sin. The church from its beginning  tried to ensure the care of unwanted children, mainly born out of marriage. There were placed special containers in churches, into which unmarried mothers could lay their child. Shelters for these children began to establish in the monasteries

The first shelter for abandoned children, which have been preserved written records, about and which can be regarded as a predecessor of new houses for abandoned children was established in 335 a.d. in Constantinople. There are written records, from 787 a.d.,  about an establishment of so-called „a finding place“ in Milan. In  1198 the Pope Inocent 3rd established an orphanage at the hospital of the Holy Spirit in Rome which was laid the foundation of a new direction at these days care of abandoned and rejected children.by

This orphanage was equipped by a special rotating box – called „torn“ which it was possible to lay an unwanted child into. The size of the box limited proportions of the child  to ensure acceptance of children only up to a certain age. It is interesting that an idea of „torn“ orphanages lasted in Europe until the middle of the 20th century.

An important role in  care of abandoned children in the past made also monasteries, accepting into care of all persons in need including abandoned and found children. As a rule, such children could get a decent livelihood, and education in a strict religious spirit. Up gradually, especially in the period after the reformation, there were allocated separate facilities for children.

The first more coherent pedagogical ideas in care of abandoned children were established in 18th century by Pestalozzi´s and Vierthaler´s Works. Already at that time Pestalozzi underlined in upbringing  the importance of emotional, moral and working education . He emphasized that  natural and harmonious development of child´s personality necessarily requires educational  influence of the family.

Gradating of effort to protect the abandoned and discard children in European countries is recorded in the 19th century, in a period of so-called manufactury capitalism which  these children were being abused as a cheap labour force in. Discard and uncared children by family  were placed in institutions – poorhouses, which were established mostly by charitable associations and inspired individuals, who often compensated their lack of pedagogical education by  love and sacrifice.

Englishman Robert Owen, owner of a cotton factory tried to solve practically these days social and pedagogical problems. His social and cultural program of children´s protection was unprecedented. Social and cultural status of children improved by limiting employment of children under 10 years of age. He established a kindergarten and  school for children up to 10 years.  The children after tenth year of their age worked in a factory and educated at evening classes. All children regardless of sex and social status from five to ten years were taught to read, write, basic math operations, to extend their knowledge of geography, history and natural history. Education and teaching shall be as close as possible to all works and physical education. The cause of his social programe failure, however, was an utopian understanding of  society  development regularity.

In the end of the 19th century, understanding of the fact that charity, inspirity and humanitarian sensibility cannot substitute a role of the society in such a complicated and sensitive issue, such as the care of  abandoned children indisputably is,  brought to an establishment of  institutions for the abandoned children by state authorities. It can be said that just in this period modern foundations for a further development of institutional care of the  abandoned children began to shape and responsibility for their fate  will be responsible the whole  society. The children will not be completely dependent on offerings and charity for ever.


  1. The precursors of today’s children’s houses were the so called „caregivers“ in Germany, founded in 1802, the first caregiver was established by Paulina of Lippe in Detmold, next in England, in 1818, were given birth to Brougham’s caregivers. The first Czech guardian was founded by Jan Svoboda in Prague at Hrádek in 1832, the second in Karlín. Before and after the First World War, the need for Children´s housings grew more and more. The School Act from 1869 mentions the establishment of institutions for children requiring public care.

2.Other orphanages and shelters were built on a charitable base at the end of the last century. The founders were philanthropic sentient, economically strong individuals, especially the noblemen or church. It was the most essential provision with religious education. The children were working for the benefit of the institutes, and to school education was not given any sufficient care.

At the turn of the century, they were founded and maintained by municipalities private, federal and public orphans. In 1908, they were in Bohemia 77 and in 1936 in  Moravia about 34th and 10  orphanages which belonged to cities. In the period before and after the First World War, the district youth care institution,  as a half-institution, slowly was building up Children´s housings in the districts.

Number of Children´s housings increased and around 1945 they were built as small family-type houses for 15-25 children. Life in them responded to the situation of a large family. Both a manager and an educator was so-called a nanny or sometimes 2 ones, who only were prepared for their function by practical training. It was characterized by a low pedagogical quality of the staff. .

The equipment and management was subsidized by the state and funds were obtained through various charitable events, collections and businesses. In England, France and the Nordic countries, there were a form of individual large families living in family houses or in apartment dwellings. Married couples were educators and  number of children was around ten. Large families created a type of children’s villages.

Five houses out of Berlin built up a village of A. Schweitzer. There is famous an international Pestalozzi village in Trogir, Switzerland which made a line of single-family houses. There was a married couple working in each of them. In one house there are 18-20 children. There are 12 nationalities in the village, each of which has its own house. SOS villages, founded from 1949 in Austria, are known very well. They have been spread to other countries in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa and also in our country.

Similar establishments like the SOS villages are National Children’s Houses in England with a 100-year´s tradition. They take care to children in some way affected, of different ages of both sexes. Turnover in organization and care of children who, for various reasons, required help of  the society started only after the Second World War.

Children´s houses changed to educational institutions and by including into school´s system  have acquired a legal and organizational basis for further development. They are divided into 2 types (boarding and family).

1.Boarding infant houses include infant children with a forecast of short-term residence in the house, and also with the prospect of returning to their own family environment.

2.Family-type children’s houses are designed for young people who are expected to stay in a children’ s house for a long time. This type of children’s houses are therefore the most optimal conditions for a healthy child’s development so that it can best replace its own family background.

2019-05-24T10:30:14+00:00 May 24th, 2019|Slovakia|