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American Association of Public Welfare Officials

In 1930, as the financial depression progressed President Herbert Hoover appealed to the association to assist in developing public relief programs in the different states, counties and cities. Thus, the initial project of the new association was to help President Herbert Hoover’s Emergency Committee for Employment (later named the President’s Organization for Unemployment Relief) in gathering information on the need for emergency public relief and to develop plans on how to meet those needs throughout the country.Continue Reading »

State-Federal Welfare Relationships

The Social Security Act of 1935 established the basic framework for what we know as the federal-state system of public welfare. Essentially, the Social Security Act established two sets of program designed to serve different purposes: (1) a national system of social insurance – or entitlements- for wage earners; and, (2) a system of state-federal public welfare programs for persons who were deemed destitute and unable to work for wages. To this day, the entitlement programs created by the Act, Unemployment Insurance and Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance, form the bulwark of protection for the vast majority of wage earners and their families against the loss of income due to temporary unemployment, retirement, death or disability. For persons who were not then able to work, and therefore unlikely to become eligible for benefits under the wage-related social insurance programs, the Act authorized federal financial participation (FFP) in state administered cash assistance programs: Aid to the Aged, Aid to the Blind, and Aid to Dependent Children. The program of Aid to the Disabled was added in 1950.Continue Reading »

Origins of the State and Federal Public Welfare Programs (1932 – 1935)

The history of public welfare in the United States has been one of continuing change and growth. Prior to the 1900’s local governments shared with private charitable organizations major responsibility for public assistance or as it was often termed, “public relief.” As the nation’s economy became more industrial and the population more concentrated in urban areas, the need for public relief often grew beyond the means, and sometimes the willingness, of local public and private authorities to provide needed assistance. During the Progressive Era, some state governments began to assume more responsibility for helping the worthy poor. By 1926, forty states had established some type of public relief program for mothers with dependent children. A few states also provided cash assistance to needy elderly residents through old-age pensions. Continue Reading »

The First Department of Public Welfare in the U.S.

In 1909, the Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri appointed a body of prominent community leaders with experience in dealing with social problems in the city and asked them to visit large cities all over the country and learn what was being done in those cities to deal with poverty and the unemployed. From the findings of their reports and their own ideas about what to do, the commission then set out to devise a plan to create a new agency: The Kansas City Department of Public Welfare.Continue Reading »

Aid To Dependent Children: The Legal History

For its first three decades, AFDC operated much like a private charity, with its case workers given discretion in investigating clients, cutting off benefits to those determined to be unsuitable, and reducing benefits to those found in violation of any of AFDC’s myriad regulations. Starting in the mid-1960s the National Welfare Rights Organization, built primarily by African American women and functionally a part of the civil rights movement, began organizing to defend welfare recipients’ rights. Continue Reading »

Aid for the Aged (OAA) 1935

Title I of the 1935 Social Security Act created a program, called Old Age Assistance (OAA), which would give cash payments to poor elderly people, regardless of their work record. OAA provided for a federal match of state old-age assistance expenditures. Among other things, OAA is important in the history of long term care because it later spawned the Medicaid program, which has become the primary funding source for long term care today.Continue Reading »

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