American Association of Public Welfare Officials: Executive Committee Meeting-January 1931
Ed. Note: This document was transcribed from the original located in the files of the Social Welfare History Archives at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. It is included here because it presents the issues and discussion some of the leaders of state public welfare departments addressed in creating what would become the American Public Welfare Association. The document is also significant as another example of how important the National Conference on Social Welfare was in fostering the birth and development of the nation’s most enduring social welfare organizations.
Minutes of Joint Meeting of Committee of Division IX National Conference of Social Work and Executive Committee American Association of Public Welfare Officials
Presiding: Honorable L. A. Halbert, Chairman Division IX, and President of American Association of Public Welfare Officials.
Present: From the American Association of Public Welfare Officials:
George S. Wilson
Katharine F. Lenroot (substituting for Mariett Stevenson)
From Division IX National Conference of Social Work:
Grube B. Cornish
H. Ida Curry
Emil Frankel (substituting for William J Ellis)
Guy S. Moffett, of the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Foundation, was present for part of the meeting.
The chairman submitted an agenda, a copy of which is attached, * tentative schedule of meetings to be held in Minneapolis by the Association, the proposed program of Division IX, and a memorandum as to the scope of public welfare work. The agenda included a detailed schedule of questions regarding the scope of organization of the Association.
*Copy of agenda is in files of Association.
The program of the Public Welfare Association meeting in Minneapolis in June, 1931, was first discussed. A tentative program drawn up by the chairman provided for meetings from June 12 and through June 14 and for joint meetings with Division IX of the National Conference during the National Conference week. Several members of the committee thought it would not be advisable to have meetings in advance of the Conference, as the tendency would then by for the Public Welfare Officials coming to these early meetings to leave before the National Conference was over. It was agreed that the following schedule of meetings should be adopted:
Monday, 1 p.m., lunch.
3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.-
Introductory remarks by president.
Statement on state, county, and rural administration by Frank Bane.
Report of committee on statistics, by Emil Frankel.
Tuesday, 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Public Welfare Work in large cities, addressed by Mr. Hoehler, of Cincinnati, and Amelia Sears of Chicago
Wednesday- Committee meetings
Thursday, 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Report of committee on uniform settlement laws and transfer of dependents.
Report of committee on developing and protecting professional standards in public welfare work.
6:00 p.m., dinner
Report of special committee on future plans.
Election of officers and other business
The chairman read a memorandum prepared by him on a proposed survey in the field of public social work. He called attention to the great scope of the field and the other organizations now occupying part of the field. He stated that before plans could be made for financing the organization and developing its program, material should be assembled as to the extent and kinds of public welfare work and the activities of public welfare organizations.
In the discussion of this proposal, Mr. Frankel called attention to the Public Administrative Clearing House being set up in Chicago. Louis Brownlow will be the director of this bureau. Its primary aim is to serve as an impartial clearing house for governmental agencies. It will not do research work or furnish experts. It is sponsored by the Social Science Research Council and had a budget of $500,000 for 10 years.
Mr. Bane outlined the following projects as suitable for the Public Welfare Association:
- Public Welfare Administration
- Transportation and Settlement Laws
The chairman thought that public outdoor relief was broader than settlement laws and thought that the Association should concern itself with public outdoor relief. Attention was called to other national agencies concerned with various aspects of the problem, such as the Mothers’ Aid Group. It was suggested that the Association should request a joint dinner meeting with the Mothers’ Aid Group on Tuesday, June 17, at the National Conference.
Mr. Frankel asked whether the Children’s Bureau had published material showing the organization of State Welfare Departments. Attention was called to the material being collected b Professor Odum in connection with the Commission on Social Trends. Mr. Bane thought Professor Odum could probably detail a person to get this material together. Mr. Cornish asked whether the Children’s Bureau could furnish a summary of their welfare study by the time of the National Conference. Miss Lenroot replied that a mimeographed statement might be prepared, but that the field work of the study was not yet completed.
Mr. Wilson asked what the function of a paid secretary of the Association would be. It was suggested that this person would go into the field and do educational work. The difficulty of financing on a membership basis was pointed out. Mr. Moffett has summarized budgets of a number of national agencies. Only a small amount is raised from membership.
Mr. Wilson stated that the question of how social workers should be organized is an interesting question. There is over-lapping interest in the different groups. Should a federation form of organization be adopted, such as that of the American Association for the advancement of Science?
Ir was suggested by Mr. Cornish that the Association might conduct a central clearing house and that the State departments could pay for detailed services rendered. The question of a Federal Department of Welfare was raised, and it was stated that this question must some time be faced. Foundations are usually willing to give only for limited periods. It was agreed that the work of the Association might strengthen the arguments for a Federal Department.
Mr. Bane again outlined the functions of a public welfare association, assuming that it was a growing organization, as follows:
- Study of Public Welfare Organizations and Practices.
- Development of Approved Standards of Public Welfare Administration, including consultation service.
- Development of Standard Statistical Procedures in the general field of public welfare.
- Development of Standard Settlement Laws and Procedures
There was a discussion of the question of standard statistical procedures. References was made to the standard schedule for reporting mental diseases developed by the National Committee for Mental Hygiene and to the relief statistics being collected by the Children’s Bureau and the Russell Sage Foundation.
Mr. Moffett emphasized the service of the Public Welfare Association as a coordinating agency. Mr. Wilson brought out the relative strength of national organizations of private agencies and said that the personnel of public agencies changed so rapidly that it is difficult to integrate them so as to benefit from one anothers experience. A very slight gain in efficiency would mean a savings of millions of dollars and benefit to millions of people. The field of welfare work is constantly growing.
Mr. Moffett forecast a marked shift from private to public welfare within the next 10 to 15 years. He thought that if we do not know where we are going, that is the first thing to find out.
The discussion brought out the belief of many of the persons present that extensive research into the scope of public welfare and the activities of agencies in the field was not necessary as a preliminary to the development of plans for the organization. Enough information could be gotten together by members of the committee in a comparatively brief period to form the basis for presentation. In connection with a request for support, Mr. Bane suggested that a committee of 3 to 5 members be appointed, of which Professor Odum should be a member, to draw up a comprehensive program for presentation at the meeting in Minneapolis. He thought a great deal of information could be obtained by the Commission on Social Trends, the White House Conference, and the Children’s Bureau. Mr. Moffett thought this would be the feasible way of going about the matter.
Mr. Wilson stated that there are many functional organizations made up in large degrees of public officials, such as the Visiting Teachers’ Association, the Probation Association and the Prison Association. We must think through the place of the organization.
Mr. Bane stated that our job is to correlate mental hygiene, prison administration, service to children and relief in a more or less general program. Mr. Frankel added that public activities should also be given a permanent place. There is no agency now considering the relation of the prison, for example, to the whole state program.
Mr. Moffett stated that there are two types of organization — one purely professional, with members interested in the professional and technical side of the work, and the other composed of persons having particular functions in governmental organization would be to have all officials having to do with any phase of welfare in one organization, breaking down into sections. The directors of Public Welfare as the administration officers are the keystone to the arch. In the present situation, we do not have an ideal organization. The first job is that of coordination.
Mr. Bane moved that the chairman appoint a committee of 3 to 5 members which in cooperation with the Children’s Bureau will assemble such information and data as are available, analyze the same and present at the next meeting an analysis and definite program. The committee is authorized to seek financial assistance if needed. The motion was seconded and carried unanimously.
Mr. Moffett stated that, speaking as an individual, one of the problems is how to provide financial support for permanent organizations. Whatever he approach, all we can hope for would be support of a limited period. He does not know when the time will come when States will be more generous in financing cooperative organizations.
In connection with the discussion of the Minneapolis program of the Association, the names of Mr. Lundquist, of St. Paul, and Mr. Ellery F. Reed were suggested as possibilities for speakers on urban problems. It was decided to invite Mr. Hoehler and Miss Sears.
The program for Division IX was then discussed. It was voted to omit the first two subjects on the program for the meeting on Monday at 9 a. m. and to have the following two subjects with the speakers indicated as follows:
- Institutes and Schools for Prison Officials, – Sanford Bates or Mr. Stutsman
- Institutes and Schools for local superintendents of Public Welfare
It was decided to leave the selection of the speaker to the chairman.
Tuesday, June 16, 11 a.m.- Public Relief and Unemployment
Mr. Porter Lee was suggested for this meeting. There was doubt as to whether he would be available. Mr. Hurlin, of the Russell-Sage Foundation was later secured.
Promoting scientific standards in the field of public outdoor relief, by W. S. Bixby, Nashville, Tennessee.
Wednesday, June 17, 9 a. m.–Quantity of treatment required and available for the mentally ill and mentally deficient in the United States, A. L. Bowen, Springfield, Illinois
Friday, June 19, 9 a.m.- -What the President’s committee on Social Trends found concerning trends in Public Welfare. Dr. Howard Odum and a second speaker,
Saturday, June 20, 9 a.m.
- Governmental Provision for Development of Social Work Statistics on a national scale, Emil Frankel; discussion leaders, A. W. McMillen and Grace Abbott.
- Cooperation between public and private agencies on budgeting the community social work program. Raymond Clapp was suggested. This plan will probably be changed. The plan for the Saturday meeting on immigration was presented by the chairman and was not charged.
Frank Bane was selected as treasurer of the organization.
Miss Lenroot explained that the Children’s Bureau could not undertake to prepare the comprehensive bulletin outlined in the agenda, but would undertake to carry two brief statements of the Association in the Child Welfare News Summary, one in February explaining the character and purposes of the organization and one in May containing the program for the National Conference. Reprints of the pages of the Summary dealing with the Association would be sent to the mailing list being developed by the Children’s Bureau. This plan was approved. The Children’s Bureau is to continue work on the mailing list.
The following were appointed as members of the special committee to outline plans for the further development of the organization:
L. A. Halbert, Chairman
Grace Abbott, or Katharine Lenroot
William J. Ellis
Howard W. Odum
It was agreed that there should be a meeting of the committee in a month or six weeks.
The meeting adjourned at 12:45 p.m.
(Signed) Katharine F. Lenroot, Acting Secretary