This extract from an almoner's guide from 1910 shows that not only were the early social workers way ahead of their time in refusing to condemn those who strayed from a socially accepted path, but that they struggled to negotiate the same tricky path that modern social workers battle with daily - whether to go in and remove a child, or to leave them and adopt a 'wait and see' approach...
'When a child is born it is the economic problem of the single woman with a child to support that has to be faced. The law of the land endeavours to make the man take his share of the financial burden, but... it is often the almoner's task to try to help the girl to find the way to complete dependence on her own resources.
It may be that here will come in the much-vexed question as to the advisability of adoption or institutional life for the child. Is it better for the child that he should share his mother's home life, even in a home that may leave much to be desired both morally and materially, or that he should grow up in a better environment with foster-parents, or with no home life at all in an institution?
The daily care of her child would appear to be her inevitable responsibility, but in extreme cases this may prove to be too hard a strain, and as a last resort the almoner may be called upon to arrange for the removal of the child if the mother's sole chance of making anything of her life seems to require this'.