Cottage Homes or family cottages were a model of institutional 'care' which began in the United Kingdom in the late nineteenth century. Along with 'boarding out', cottage Home accommodation was seen as an alternative to congregate, dormitory-style accommodation (although cottage Homes could house up to 40 children).
The model of the cottage Home was based on ideas that children had to be housed in a situation resembling the 'normal' family, if they were to develop into healthy, productive adults.
It was also influenced by the assumption that 'spatial designs could shape the individual's identity and regulate his or her role in the larger society' (Murdoch). The move towards cottage Homes was often part of a larger scheme to create 'model villages' or 'colonies'.
In the United Kingdom, Dr Thomas John Barnardo established a 'Village Home for Girls' in the 1870s. Homer Lane managed the Ford Boys' Republic in Detroit, and later came to England to be the superintendent at the 'Little Commonwealth' in Dorset.
In Victoria, Australia, the move towards cottage Homes took place in the twentieth century. At Tally Ho in Burwood, the superintendent Edgar Derrick was influenced by Homer Lane's ideas, and from the 1930s lobbied for change and the building of cottages for the boys. In the 1940s, the Methodist Homes for Children proposed the rebuilding of the institution on a cottage plan to establish a 'garden settlement for children'.
In cottage Homes, children were 'cared' for by 'cottage mothers', and sometimes by fathers as well.
Sources used to compile this entry: Howe, Renate; Swain, Shurlee, All God's Children: a centenary history of the Methodist Homes for Children and the Orana Peace Memorial Homes, Acorn Press, Kambah, ACT, 1989; Murdoch, Lydia, Imagined orphans: poor families, child welfare, and contested citizenship, Rutgers University Press, 2006.
Prepared by: Cate O'Neill
Created: 20 August 2009, Last modified: 26 April 2016