IV. The Rise of the Institutions 1800 - 1950 C. 1870 to 1890: Shelter the Deviant From Society
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While the number of training schools increased, the commitment to training did not. The schools quickly became asylums, providing custodial care for an increasing number of individuals with developmental disabilities. As enrollment increased, the commitment to education was largely abandoned. Pupils became "inmates." Through the 1870s and 1880s, a few institutions continued a policy of admitting persons of a young age who were considered capable of benefiting the most from instruction. But by 1875, a number of states began building custodial institutions.

PA Training School

Even though some people believed that the early training schools were successful, education as a goal was sacrificed for the greater concern of housing a quickly growing number of persons of all ages with all levels of disability. In order to exist, the institutions had to change their focus from a training environment to a custodial environment. The goal of educating pupils for life in the community was changed to training inmates to work inside the institution. Instead of an education, higher-functioning inmates were taught functional skills and used as laborers to reduce costs.