a philanthropic institution for orphans and abandoned or homeless children.
In Russia, children’s shelters were first established in the 18th century at monasteries. The first secular shelter was founded by the patron of art P. G. Demidov in St. Petersburg in 1837 at the Demidov Home for the Care of Laborers. It provided day care for children of working mothers. Beginning in 1846, children were permitted to stay overnight, and later they were allowed to live continuously in the “orphans’ sections.” Most of the children’s shelters were administered by the Department of Institutions of Empress Mariia. Other children’s shelters were run by various philanthropic societies, individuals, and the government departments of ecclesiastical affairs and military affairs, as well as by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
In the late 19th century, an elementary program of instruction was introduced at the children’s shelters, corresponding to the program in one-room rural schools. At a number of shelters, trade classes or trade schools were established. In 1891 infants’ shelters were instituted, and beginning at that time rural children’s shelters were established to train “thrifty peasants.”
The children’s shelters were funded primarily by charitable contributions, with the state treasury and urban and zemstvo (local self-government) institutions providing some sums as well. The shelters exploited the children’s labor; this was particularly so in the rural shelters. By 1917 there were 583 children’s shelters, with about 30,000 children, throughout Russia (within the boundaries of what is now the RSFSR). After the October Revolution of 1917, children’s homes were established for orphans, children who had lost contact with their parents, and children who needed the state’s aid and protection.
Various types of philanthropic institutions for children exist in many countries.