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BOSTON, January 31, 1922. HON. ANDREW J. PETERS,
Mayor of the City of Boston: DEAR SIR,- In compliance with the provisions of section 24, chapter 3, of the Revised Ordinances of the City of Boston, the second annual report of the Commissioner of Institutions is respectfully submitted for the year ending January 31, 1922.
The wisdom of your Honor's action in bringing about the establishment of the Institutions Department, and vesting therein the care of the chronic sick, the almshouse inmates, the minor wards of the city and the men confined in the House of Correction, has met, after eighteen months' experience, with general approval. The co-ordination anticipated by this change is a fact, and it is generally believed that the charges of the Institutions Department are receiving better care than heretofore.
CHILD WELFARE DIVISION. The Child Welfare Division has to do with the care of delinquent, neglected and dependent children, and performs functions equally important with those of the School Department of the city. The division during the year 1921 cared for 1,678 children; 243 neglected children, 1,071 dependent children and 364 juvenile offenders.
Frequent conferences of field agents of this division have been held, at which the commissioner and deputy commissioner have discussed with all the agents cases which were bothersome. These conferences were in the nature of clinics and much good has been derived from them. The personal interest shown by the visitors in individual cases is most pleasing. They have invited many of the children to their homes for pleasant weekends and Christmas parties; they have delighted the older girls by shopping excursions through the Boston stores. They have made others happy by taking them on little pleasure trips. At Christmas time the office force worked late into the evening that each child might receive a Christmas gift from the department.
Visits to the boarding homes are frequent, a rule of the division requiring a visit once in two months at least. School teachers are interviewed by the visitors; clergymen of the churches, at which the children are expected to be in attendance, are consulted, and the cooperation of both secured.
Through intensive work many of the mentally unfit have been taken from the boarding homes and placed in institutions for the feeble-minded. Arrangements have been made for the transfer of certain children to communities where they may have the advantages of training in backward classes, and numerous others have been committed to the School for Crippled Children at Canton. The aim of the division has been to give to each ward of the city the same advantages that the average child in the community has. Many of the wards of the division are of working age and are earning money. Some few snug bank accounts are being built up, and saving is encouraged and supervised by the visitors. For the year ending January 31, 1922, the sum of $1,147,15 has been deposited to the credit of twenty-one children from their earnings.
In 1889 the sum of $2,000 was bequeathed to the Marcella Street Home for Poor and Neglected Children. Since the closing of the home in 1898 the interest from that sum has been used for the benefit of the dependent and neglected children of the city. It has been spent
for the higher education of boys and girls. From this fund it has been possible to pay for the transportation, tuition and clothing of boys above the average mentally who have succeeded in winning scholarships in the colleges. It is to be regretted that more funds of this nature are not available.
In April of last year the Institutions Department acquired additional offices on the eighth floor, which have been devoted to storage for children's clothing and a playroom for the children. The playroom has been very tastefully decorated and supplied with small chairs and tables. Gifts of toys and picture books have added to the pleasure and comfort of the children who are obliged to remain there awaiting the doctor's examination.
Your Honor's attention is directed to the fact that not a few of the wards of the city are children whose parents, or relatives responsible for their care, can well afford to contribute something toward their support. Especially is this true of crippled children, for whom the city pays board in the state institutions. Many bills have been referred to the Law Department for collection, and this past year more has been collected than heretofore. I feel, however, that an attorney should be assigned to the Institutions Department, who would devote his entire time for at least a year to bringing suit against responsible parties for money expended by the city.
INFIRMARY DIVISION. It is believed that the year 1921 will stand out in the annals of the Boston Almshouse and Hospital as a year of marked progress. Perhaps the greatest accomplishment has been the installation of a fire prevention system, so complete that Long Island is now pronounced more adequately equipped against fire than any institution in the United States. To accomplish this end sprinklers have been installed in all buildings; the reservoir has been relined and its capacity increased to 1,500,000 gallons; the salt and fresh water systems have been connected; pumps have been installed, one on the front wharf by which sea water may be pumped into the main and a pressure of 100 pounds attained, thereby insuring against the failure of supply from the reservoir or the mainland; the other, a thousand-gallon pump back of the institution building for the purpose
of increasing the pressure from the reservoir and main water line; additional hydrants have been located and fireboat connections provided at both wharves. As an additional precaution, weekly inspections are carried on by district chiefs, and employees, trained by Captain McKendrew, who was assigned by the Fire Commissioner to six months' duty at the island, are frequently given ladder and hose drills. On November 23 your Honor and the fire experts of the city witnessed a demonstration of the appliances. An alarm was pulled in for the fireboat, and in twenty-five minutes from the time of pulling the alarm the fireboat had come from Boston and was pumping three streams over the tallest buildings on the island. The fireboat was then disconnected and water pumped from the sea. At one time the pressure secured was 125 pounds. The employment of inmates of the Deer Island House of Correction in excavating for the installation of the pipe lines required for this work has resulted in a saving to the city of approximately $30,000.
Among the more important accomplishments was the rebuilding of both the front and back wharves from the $25,000 appropriation granted solely for the renewal of the back wharf and coal pocket, and made possible because of the intense competition among contractors for the work. The roof of the coal shed has been covered with rubberoid and tar, and a cement floor has been laid, which will prevent the losses which the city formerly sustained by coal fires burning holes in the wharf floor.
The heating and power plant has been greatly improved. All engines have been overhauled and trued up. Vacuum pumps, air pumps and the ice machine have been put in excellent condition. However, the load now imposed upon the engine room by the fire prevention equipment and extra lighting makes necessary an additional engine, for which the sum of $5,000 is requested in the 1922 budget.
A change from the present heating system to an oil-burning system was given careful consideration and study by the Arthur D. Little Company and by the engineers of the Public Works Department. It was finally determined that for the present, at least, the institution should continue to use coal. As automatic coal-handling devices will not suit our conditions, an appropriation for a motor truck is asked in the budget