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Berry Picking and Relief (1935)

Public relief affords no real security. The family on relief cannot meet its actual minimum needs. If private employment can offer more, we send it men. But we can hardly abandon our people to industry or agriculture which offers them less than relief. Employers will have no difficulty in getting or keeping labor if they can guarantee a certain and adequate wage and decent conditions. The relief client and his family are not lolling on the fat of the land on $7.50 a week.Continue Reading »

Public Relief in the Sit-Down Strike: 1937

An Editorial in The Survey, March, 1937. “A sharp reminder that ’emergency’ is the middle name of public relief agencies came home to the Genesee County, Mich. Welfare Relief Commission last month with the ‘sit-down strike’ in Flint of the United Automobile Workers.”Continue Reading »

Old Age Pensions – Eleanor Roosevelt (1934)

“…We can hardly be happy knowing that throughout this country so many fine citizens who have done all that they could for their young people must end their days divided–for they usually are divided in the poorhouse. Old people love their own things even more than young people do. It means so much to sit in the same old chair you sat in for a great many years, to see the same picture that you always looked at!

And that is what an old age security law will do. It will allow the old people to end their days in happiness, and it will take the burden from the younger people who often have all the struggle that they can stand. It will end a bitter situation–bitter for the old people because they hate to be a burden on the young, and bitter for the young because they would like to give gladly but find themselves giving grudgingly and bitterly because it is taking away from what they need for the youth that is coming and is looking to them for support. For that reason I believe that this bill will be a model bill and pass without any opposition this year.”Continue Reading »

Model Ordinance

This Model Ordinance was developed by Leroy Allen Halbert, General Superintendent of the Kansas City Board of Public Welfare for eight years. During that time, he helped formulate plans for how other cities, counties and states could organize their own Boards of Public Welfare. For example, in a presentation to officials in Topeka, Kansas in the Spring of 1912, he said: “…small towns could not afford to have a full time trained social worker and that the proper unit for handling welfare problems for the small communities was the county and urged that probation work, truancy work, relief work, etc. should all be concentrated in the hands of a good trained social worker.”

This Model Ordinance as one of the tools he developed to assist in the creation of local departments of public welfare.Continue Reading »

Old Age Assistance: A Brief History (1934)

At the end of 1928, after six years of agitation, there were only six states and one territory which had made provision for their aged. They were Colorado, Kentucky, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, Wisconsin and Alaska. All the state laws were of the optional type, i.e., they left the adoption or rejection of an old age assistance system to the discretion of the counties. For this reason these laws had very limited effect only.Continue Reading »

Old Age Assistance: An Overview

From the earliest colonial times, local villages and towns recognized an obligation to aid the needy when family effort and assistance provided by neighbors and friends were not sufficient. This aid was carried out through the poor relief system and almshouses or workhouses. Gradually, measures were adopted to provide aid on a more organized basis, usually through cash allowances to certain categories among the poor. Mothers’ pension laws, which made it possible for children without paternal support to live at home with their mothers rather than in institu­tions or foster homes, were adopted in a number of States even before World War I. In the mid-twenties, a few States began to experiment with old-age assistance and aid to the blind.Continue Reading »

Care of the Aged Poor

The remedy for the real evil which the commission’s report shows (such extreme dread of poverty as still remains) is, I believe, to be found in a continuance of our progress in making relief both sufficient and humane. We must entirely abolish the old idea, already largely abolished, of treating a dependent person as a pauper. The old practice, the old words, the old attitude, all constitute the evil which modern measures try to abolish. For the last six years I have stricken the word “pauper” from every one of our hundreds of departmental forms which has come up for reprinting. We need an amendment to our statutes which will entirely eliminate the word “pauper.” It is an obsolete word except in the law.Continue Reading »

Public Welfare: Model Constitution

At the Forty-Fifth Annual Session of the National Conference of Social Work in 1918, Leroy A. Halbert, General Superintendent, Board of Public Welfare, Kansas City, Missouri, presented his views on: Boards Of Public Welfare: A System Of Government Social Work. In the course of his presentation he described an initiative he facilitated. Below is a paragraph from his presentation describing the work of the National Public Welfare League and a copy of the Model Constitution offered to prospective members.Continue Reading »

Public Welfare: A System of Government Social Work

The board of public welfare movement has behind it the dynamic of a great ideal which in a measure explains its history. The movement proclaims a practical Utopia to be realized by doing scientific social work on a large scale. This program is based on the idea that social science and social invention can revolutionize society. It accepts no misery as inevitable and no wrong as irremediable. It aims at a new social order.
Since 1900, there has been a greater development along these lines than existed in the previous one hundred years. Miss Eva M. Marquis, superintendent of the research bureau of the Kansas City board, made a study of all the national organizations devoted to social betterment propaganda and social reform which she could find. She listed ninety, in all, and found that three-fourths of them had been organized since 1900. It is probably no exaggeration to say that the proportion of governmental activities for social welfare that have originated since 1900 would be almost the same.Continue Reading »

Forms Created to Combat “Social Evils”

Among the Board of Public Welfare departments is the Recreation Department of the board which maintains supervision over all public dances in the city. Licenses must be secured for all such dances, and an inspector is present to see that dance hall rules are complied with. These rules bar the sale of liquor, provide that dance halls be properly lighted, forbid “shadow” and “moonlight” dancing, stipulate that all dances must close at twelve o’clock unless a special permit is secured, and provide that no girls under seventeen shall attend public dances unless attended by parent or guardian. Failure to comply with these rules results in a revocation of the dance permit. During the first year of inspection. more than 300 young girls were sent from dance halls and their parents notified. That inspection has resulted in raising the standard of the dances is attested by the owners of dance halls themselves. It has also increased instead of diminished the attendance at these dances. Similar permits were required for carnivals, pool halls and theaters.Continue Reading »

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