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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

WOMEN'S PROTECTIVE ASSN.

WOMEN'S PROTECTIVE ASSN.

The WOMEN'S PROTECTIVE ASSN. (WPA) formally organized on 9 Mar. 1916 "to protect and safeguard girls and women against social and moral dangers, to provide them with legal defense when necessary and to render other possible assistance. . . . ." Late in 1915, BELLE SHERWIN suggested that Mayor NEWTON D. BAKER appoint a special investigator to work with women who had been arrested and scheduled for trial. Sherwin suggested Sabina Marshall, a social worker. Baker and Police Chief FRED KOHLER approved, and Marshall and Sherwin organized a board of prominent women. During its early years, the association investigated carnivals, patrolled DANCE HALLS, and lobbied for women probation officers. The association felt that women being held for investigation or waiting for trial or sentencing should be kept in a detention home rather than in jail. In July 1917 CLEVELAND CITY COUNCIL passed an ordinance permitting the association to operate a detention home. The Sterling House, opened in Dec. 1917, (sometimes given as Feb. 1918) was so successful that the association purchased another building for an enlarged home. Renamed the Prospect Club, 2448 Prospect Ave., it became a temporary boarding home for girls who needed supervision. During World War I, the federal government assigned the association the task of protecting women near army cantonments.

In 1922 the Big Sister Council became a part of the WPA; in 1930 the WPA became the Girls' Bureau. This change reflected the shift of court-oriented work to women's probation services within juvenile and municipal courts and other agencies and the creation of the WOMEN'S BUREAU OF THE CLEVELAND POLICE DEPT. The Girls' Bureau focused largely on casework. In 1943 it expanded to include boys and changed its name to the Youth Bureau. This agency again changed its name in 1958 to Youth Service and in 1971 became part of the CENTER FOR HUMAN SERVICES.


See also BIG BROTHER/BIG SISTER PROGRAMS.