The Children's Protection Act of 1893 introduced Ontario's first full-fledged child protection scheme. However; for half a century, children's homes had been helping disadvantaged children, and they played a key role in the evolution of an empathetic child-protection system. During the course of the nineteenth century, the provincial government had increasingly accepted responsibility for disadvantaged children and had developed legislative definitions of a child in need of protection and of neglect that were incorporated into the 1893 Act. The work of the children's homes went hand in hand with these developments, as they not only helped needy children but also helped develop these concepts of neglect and provided models for the home placements promoted by J. J. Kelso and mandated by the Act.
It has been suggested that the role of Ontario children's homes, who had for half a century been helping disadvantaged children, changed significantly and immediately under the 'Children's Protection Act of 1893'. However, the records of the girls admitted to Toronto Girls' Home from 1863 to 1910 suggest that this was not the case, for this home at least. For most of their history, their core clientele was the children of poor respectable parents dealing with a crisis or who could not both work and care for their children. Thus, although prior to 1893 they did also care for a significant number of neglected children, and after 1893 fewer such children were admitted, the Home continued for more than 20 years to help families as they always had, providing a form of family support for which the child protection system was not designed.