A slightly longer post of another very important organisation.
Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME' by Gertrude Ruston. (pp 190-193
"The Children's Holiday Association of Perth and State:
The next major problem brought to our attention was the need for some care of school children during school holiday periods, when there was only one parent who was obliged to work to support the family, and there were no friends or relatives able to take over. We were constantly asked for advice by worried single parents, particularly regarding the *long summer holidays.
Single parents were in a cleft stick! They either had to leave children to their own device; obtain leave from their employment (not often possible); or leave their jobs, hoping to obtain further work after the holidays, a desperate solution of you are the bread winner.
**My own daughter was similarly placed, and I paid for her two children to go to a riding school in the south-west for two weeks during one holiday. The cost was much more than an average parent could afford, and I certainly could not have continued to meet such requirements for a long period of time.
I decided to publicise the need and ask if there were parents with lonely children, either in the town or country, who would be prepared to accept a child of similar age to their own as a guest during the school holiday period.
Press and radio gave generous publicity; suitable forms were prepared for hosts and children covering such things as disabilities and insurance. It was decided that we could not accept any responsibility, and it was therefore left to parents and hosts to decide whether they would be prepared to accept the offered home or the child, and all children had to be covered by school insurance, which also included holiday periods.
The response was not encouraging. Where necessary some help was given with extra clothing, and it was agreed that the parents should provide their children with pocket money. Few of the host families asked for board to be paid but, where requested and possible, parents willingly paid a sahre of expenses.
I became Director of the service in an honorary capacity and, at the suggestion of Miss Thomson's public relation friends, we called it the Children's Holiday Association of Perth and State, which would be shortened to the applicable CHAPS.
This organisation was established and run entirely independently of the Council of Social Service. A regular group of voluntary workers has carried the organisation and it is very well administered.
CHAPS has also proved of benefit to parents, as it gave them relief from worry, and a short period of relaxation from family care after work.
For most of the children it was a wonderful experience as they came into contact with farm like and country towns which they had not known previously. In return, some of the parents invited hosts' children to visit them in Perth when they were able to do so.
One retired businessman at Geraldton paid the air fares of a mother and twin boys of eight so that they could go to his place for the Christmas holidays. The mother returned to her job in Perth after the New Year, and the boys remained in Geraldton for the rest of their summer holidays. What an adventure for two small boys!
Children want as far afield as Experance and Port Hedland, and some of them were invited year after year to the same homes during the school holidays.
An amusing case was that of a mother who wanted her son looked after, but stipulated that he must not soil his bands or his clothes because he was a junior male model. Poor boy! We thought a good tumble in the dirt would probably have done him the world of good. I believe he was placed with a family with sympathy and understanding. His good clothes were carefully put away, and he was given some 'bush' attire to wear until the holiday was over, when he want back to his mother carefully dressed and groomed, looking as nearly as possible the perfect little model.
We set up a good card system of children needing help (including details of any personal or medical problems), and a similar record of information concerning hosts offering assistance. Youngsters suffering from diabetes, epilepsy etc., as well as bed wetters, have been placed with host families whose children had similar problem, and the scheme has been surprisingly free of major difficulties or emergencies.
Children and hosts from ethnic backgrounds were placed together to overcome language difficulties. One Greek family asked for a girl as their family consisted of only boys and they longed to have a daughter by proxy if only for a short time. There was one condition - she must be able to swim as they had a large swimming pool. As usual, there was a suitable lass available.
In due course I applied to the Western Australian State Government for a grant towards administration and this made it possible for us to appoint a part-time secretary.
When I began to establish Beehive Industries (you will read more of this in further episodes) I resigned from C.H.A.P.S. and my place as Director was taken by Mrs Phil Robertson. I was presented with a nice clock as a farewell gesture, and made an Honorary Life Member. I treasure my clock and it is in constant use. (If I remember correctly it was a lovely travelling clock which would fold up to keep it safe when travelling. I feel I had it for a time and maybe stopped working so I discarded it).
Over the years there have been some changes but Mr Rob Stevens remained as President until ill health compelled him to resign in 1981. He has been asked to accept Honorary Life Membership.
Mrs Toms was the first secretary and is now a voluntary helper. Her place as secretary was taken by Mrs Ray Buck. a brave bright young woman who gave much to the organisation, and was sadly missed when she died tragically while still young.
Mrs Dawn Fogden is the present excellent secretary and expansion is the order of the day. There is a group of wonderful voluntary workers who have given their services since the early days and are still happy to carry on doing so.
CHAPS fills a unique spot during school holiday periods, and numerous letters have been received from hosts, parents, and the children themselves, conveying their appreciation of this very essential service.
* In Australia the summer holidays usually begin a week before Christmas and schools don't start the first term of the new year until the beginning of February.
** This was of course when I was separated from my first husband. My two children had a wonderful time on that holiday and it gave mum an eye opener as to the costs involved in trying to find a place to send children during prolonged holidays where they would be safe while a parent had to continue working during those holidays.
This is a biographical note found on a social archive site (Libraries Australia. World Cat record id: 665033877):
The Children's Holiday Association of Perth and State of W.A. (acronym CHAPS) was also known as Children's Holiday Association of Western Australia, and Children's Holiday Association, but, was incorporated as Children's Holiday Association of Perth and State of Western Australia. The Association was fund raising from 1970, incorporated in 1976 and wound up in 1998. The Association enabled children of one-parent families, where the parent was obliged to work to support the family, or sick, to be placed with host families for school holidays.
(I am sure mum would have been saddened to know that it was eventually wound up. No reason was given for this).