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pared by Arthur E. Burns and Edward
A. Williams, and published (mimeo-
graphed, 51 pp.) by the division of re-
search, statistics and records of the WPA.
The authors, after a brief account of
conditions prior to the entrance of the
federal government onto the relief stage,
trace the course of federal policy and its
implementation, through FERA, CWA,
the interim federal-state work relief
program, the WPA and the program of
the social security act. Finally they dis-
cuss the permanence of the problem of
destitution and its underlying economic
factors, and conclude that only "an inte-
grated and perfected program of insur-
ance, public work and public assistance
. . . will eliminate the distress resulting
from unemployment."

Trend Figures compiled by the re-
search bureau of the Welfare Council of
New York City on relief expenditures,
public and private, over the five-year pe-
riod 1933-37 indicate, says Robert P.
Lane executive director of the council,
". . . the virtual retirement of the private
agencies from the relief scene. In 1933
they spent $14,205,396 on relief, or slight-
ly over 12 percent of the total. Last year
their expenditure was $3,147,541 or
slightly over one percent. The establish-
ment of a permanent public relief pro-
gram leaves the private agencies free to
devote their energies and funds to their
normal work with public health, care of
the sick, mental hygiene, child and family
welfare and the like."

Mounting Telegraphic reports in
mid-February to the Social Security
Board from ninety urban areas showed
an increase of 13 percent in January over
December in number of cases receiving
general relief and of 9 percent in
"amount of obligations incurred." Top-
ping all other areas in the rise was Flint,
Mich., city and county, with a leap of
285 percent in cases, 212 percent in obli-

gations. New York City had a rise ofi
only 3.1 percent in cases, 1.3 percent in!
obligations. As in earlier months the
heaviest increase was in the midwestern
industrial areas.

Chicago Under hot and heavy discus-
sion in Chicago the past month was the
report on administration of relief sub-
mitted by Governor Homer's Council on
Public Assistance and Employment ap-
pointed last fall. [See Survey Midmonth-
ly, October 1937, page 320.] Says the
council, "The recommendations . . . are
the result of observations made in the
field by representatives of business and

The study covered 2000 cases selecte
at random for an 'examination" which
included home visits and checking rec-
ords. The general conclusion of the ex-
aminers is that "there is considerable
indication that efficient and economical
treatment of the relief problem is not
possible without considerable reorgani-
zation of administrative structure."

A large contributing factor to weak-
ness of administration, the council found,
is the statutory limit of 8 percent fof)
overhead. This has resulted in under-
paid and inefficient office managers; "re-
duction in the number of case workers
to a point where it is physically impos-
sible for them to perform their duties"
(300 is the average case load) ; insuffi-
cient clerical staff and equipment. The
council urges as its No. 1 recommenda-
tion that the 8 percent limit be abolished
by the legislature and that "administra-
tive expenditures be based upon such
amount as is necessary for efficient and
economical administration of relief."

In the general management of district
offices the council found social workers
with administrative duties and authority
for which they were not too well
equipped, since "social service training
does not include office management or
actual relief administration," and recom-
mended that emphasis be "shifted from
social service to business management
with adequate stress on social service
techniques where indicated."

The survey found that about 56 per-
cent of the persons now on relief are em-
ployable. The council recommended that
these, "requiring little or no social ser-1
vice treatment," be separated for super-
vision into a new department "which
would provide exacting and frequent in-
vestigation of the type needed." Thus
"case workers would be able to give
more effective attention to unemployable ;
and doubtful cases which present only
social service problems."



The council found that 100 or 5 per-
cent of the 2000 cases investigated were
"considered fraudulent by the examin-
ers," though in many cases the investi-
gators added the words ". . . but cannot
prove." It notes that due to excessive
case loads families could not be visited
"oftener than once in four months . . .
some had not been visited for almost a
year," but concludes that "as the prose-
cution of fraud is purely a business trans-
action it should not be influenced by
social service principles but should be
governed entirely by business standards."
Recommended is an "active fraud depart-
ment" in each district office "under busi-
rather than social service supervi-


Further recommendations of the coun-
cil were: that the residence requirement
for relief be raised from one to three
years to discourage migration to the
city; that "paper work" be reduced; that
the centralized plan of administration be
made less rigid, especially in the alloca-
tion of special funds and advance esti-
mates of need; that an effort be made to
get access to Social Security Board rec-
ords as a check on clients' earnings.

Before the council presented its report
to Governor Horner it already had tak-
en steps to test the procedures it advo-
cates by setting up the Canal District
office as a demonstration unit. Here addi-
tional staff has reduced the case load to
about seventy-five and office routines are
being revised. At the end of three months
the results will be checked against other
district offices.

seems to have been various. The newspa-
pers treated it thoughtfully or sensation-
ally according to their lights. Business
men are shocked by the size of the prob-
lem and sobered by the realization that it
probably is permanent. They are reluc-
tant to admit that more money must be
found to meet the bill, but responsive to
suggestions for more efficient use of mon-
ey now available. Social workers ex-
pressed surprise that "fraud" was found
in only 100 cases considering their own
inability to visit and supervise properly.
They were surprised even more that the
heads of only 145 of the 2000 families
studied were found to be aliens. WPA
bars aliens, and thus their resources
when in trouble are severely limited.

The social workers seem to be of two
schools of thought over the report. One
school holds that there is so much good in
it that it is poor strategy to fight the bad.
For example, they say that if the report
results in getting the 8 percent limitation
removed, much of the ineffectiveness it
points out, including the discovery and
treatment of fraud, would be corrected
in natural sequence. The other school
holds that social workers owe it to the

clients and to their own integrity to pro-
test vigorously the proposed handling "by
business standards" of cases of real or
suspected fraud. They say that the whole
business of the means test is confused be-
ginning with the applicant's affidavit
the "pauper's oath" which is so complex
that clients with little education do not
understand it. They point out that in the
cause of common justice Cook County
provides a behavior clinic and the ser-
vices of the public defender for the ordi-
nary criminal, and ask why the relief
"fraud" whose offense is easily under-
standable, should be "thrown to the
wolves" of prosecution "by business


into employables and unemployables and
to treat the two groups by different
methods is, many social workers seem
to think, an over-simplification. Experi-
ence has taught them that family prob-
lems do not divide neatly but overlap in
many directions at once. They see in the
proposal confusion for clients and staffs
alike and a rapid accumulation of border-
liners falling between the definitions and
their various interpretations.

The social workers welcome proposals
for better office procedures while point-
ing out that changes in program in the
past have been so frequent that offices
never had a chance to settle down to or-
derly routines. They add "for the rec-
ord" that the efficiency of the offices was
"tested" by the examiners at a period
when 250 case workers had just been re-
moved from the staff, when WPA trans-
fers were especially heavy and when the
whole administration was engaged in a
high pressure study of employables.

The cold hard facts about the propor-
tions of relief in Cook County were put
before a meeting of the Chicago Asso-
ciation of Commerce by Samuel A. Gold-
smith, executive director of the Jewish
Charities. As summarized in the News
Letter of the Council of Social Agencies
he said:

"The core of this question is not mon-
ey (borrowed, stolen or taxed). It is
people and whether we shall hold out
to them hope or disaster . . . 100,000
families are on relief in Cook County
now. That is more people than live in
Atlanta or Indianapolis, as many as live
in Kansas City. . . . The citizens of any
ordinary city spend from six to ten times
as much to live as we spend on these
families. . . . The fraction of these fami-
lies that are under care of the United
Charities and Jewish Social Service Bu-
reau spend $517 a year per family. . . .
The average for families on public relief
is $357 a year. . . . The average rent for
these families is $80 a year. Ninety per-
cent of them are citizens . . . mothers,
fathers, students . . . 'with affections,

passions . . .' Forty-six percent are under
21. Forty percent are under 18. ...
There are 150,000 children on relief in
Cook County now. . . . There is 57 percent
more illness among them than among the
rest of us. ... It is more severe, and of
longer duration. ... If you are going to
care for huge cities on relief you are go-
ing to have to spend a lot of money. But
what about Chicago in 1945? In 1950?
. . . What about these hundreds of thou-
sands of children of tomorrow? . . . What
price civilization?"

In St. Louis Funds for relief in St.
Louis, for months far short of estimated
need, appear to be growing even scarcer.
Protesting private organizations say that
the situation is "cruel and inhuman,"
with relief allowances averaging about
21 cents a day for around 25,000 per-
sons on the relief rolls and no rents be-
ing paid. The Koch Hospital, city sani-
tarium, training school and city infirm-
ary, all are filled beyond capacity.

The plight of St. Louis has increased
in gravity ever since last fall when the
city's bond issue relief fund was ex-
hausted and the board of aldermen passed
a resolution that the city could not ap-
propriate more relief funds. This was an
attempt to place responsibility for relief
on the state which receives revenues
from the sales tax. But the state would
not have any part of it and the situation
since has been batted back and forth
between city and state, while the people
on relief wait for something to be done.
The city and county quota of WPA
workers has increased about 7000 since
October and now numbers about 21,800.

Pennsylvania The State Board of
Public Assistance, secretary Arthur W.
Howe, Jr., is instituting various new
procedures designed to affect economies
and to insure "equitable treatment to all
classes of needy persons aided by the
state." It proposes, subject to approval
by the Social Security Board, to drop the
prevailing schedules of assistance for the
aged and dependent children and to sub-
stitute as standard the present schedule
of maximum general assistance allow-
ances. The board defines a "family unit"
and rules that the needs and resources of
the unit rather than of one or more indi-
vidual members will be considered in de-
termining eligibility. Relatives, even other
than lineal, are expected to assume "a
natural responsibility" toward persons in
need, with the county assistance boards
determining their financial ability to sup-

The board states its belief that the new
basis for assistance, by removing "former
rigid restrictions on the amount of actual
grants of aid to dependent children," will
result in "more adequate assistance to
virtually all needy widows without other
resources who are now on Aid to Depen-
dent Children rolls." It makes no proph-

MARCH 1938


Relief in 116 urban areas in the United States. Earnings under Civil Works Administration
are those for all persons employed under the program, including the administrative staff.

ecy about old age assistance. Social work-
ers see in the action a leveling down of
category assistance to the far from ade-
quate standards of general relief. News-
paper commentators see a probable sav-
ing in expenditures of $400,000 to $500,-
000 a month. The locals of the State,
County and Municipal Workers of Am-
erica have attacked the ruling as a "be-
trayal of the liberal groups who for over
a quarter of a century have worked for
adequate mothers' aid and old age as-
sistance programs."

Various other recent rulings of the
board indicate a general tightening of
policy necessitated, it is said, by the fact
that the state faces a deficit in assistance
funds of upwards of $26 million for the
biennium. Recipients of old age assist-
ance and blind pensions no longer can
leave the state for a limited period and
continue to receive their checks. "Effec-
tive immediately," says the ruling, "as-
sistance will be discontinued when any
recipient leaves the commonwealth." The
blind, if they retain their Pennsylvania
settlement, may be reinstated on their
return. Continuing assistance of any kind
may be granted only to needy residents,
i.e., those who have settlement or have
resided in the state for a year. Indigent
non-residents may have temporary aid
pending determination of legal settlement
when the state will pay for transporta-
tion "by the most economical means

Ohio Proposals for a "permanent"
relief plan for the state at this writing
(February 28) are still at the mercy of
legislators politically preoccupied with
new charges and countercharges of
"scandal" in other state activities. The
legislature adjourned February 11 to re-
convene February 28 for sine die ad-
journment, but the fiction of covering

the clock will permit several days in
which to "clean up" pending measures.
Among these are two relief bills de-
signed to meet the objections contained
in Governor Davy's veto of the bills
passed in January. [See Survey Mid-
monthly, February 1938, page 47.] The
new measures strike out provisions in
the vetoed bills which would have pro-
hibited relief to aliens without their first
papers, established an appeals board to
review rulings of the director, required
publication by each county of lists of
recipients of relief. The bills now pend-
ing would raise the state residence re-
quirements from one to three years, and
would permit local directors to deter-
mine whether relief should be in cash or
grocery orders. Defeated were amend-
ments to cut from 65 percent to 55 per-
cent the majority vote required for the
approval of special tax levies by counties
for statutory relief purposes.

Seven-Gent Meals "I hope I never
see another apple," said Irene M. Laps-
ley of the Richmond Social Service Bur-
eau after living for a week on the stand-
ard food allowance of $1.50 plus surplus
commodities. A typical day's menu was:
breakfast cereal, tomato juice and cof-
fee ; lunch three peanut butter and jelly
sandwiches and three apples ; dinner
boiled rice, boiled cabbage, two fried ap-
ples, two slices of bread, baked apples and
coffee. About 7200 people in Richmond
are living on the $1.50 a week, seven-
cents-a-meal standard.

To Read After complete revision,
with figures brought down to the end of
1937, the Public Affairs Committee, 8
West 40 Street, New York, has reissued
its earlier pamphlet, This Question of
Relief, prepared by Maxwell S. Stewart
in cooperation with the staff of the Com-

mittee on Social Security of the Social
Science Research Council. Price 10 cents.
The author reviews the confusions of the
cumulative situation, calls for a funda 1 -
mental policy and declares that that pol-
icy should delineate clear lines of respon-
sibility, local, state and national; should
recognize the necessity for adequate re-
lief and for the protection of the self-
respect of the recipient; should establish
a program as economical as is consistent
with decent standards, with its adminis-
tration taken out of politics and entrust-
ed to trained social workers.

Public Assistance

*T*O former Governor Harold G.
* Hoffman of New Jersey goes such
credit as may be for finding a new de-
scriptive adjective, worthy successor to
"worthy," for that state of economic ill-
being that requires public assistance.
"Undeserved poverty," Mr. Hoffman
calls it, and adds that "permanent ma-
chinery for dealing with it must be set

Aid by Quota With applications for
old age assistance still rolling in and the
numbers already far above the estimates
on which legislative appropriations were
made, the Florida State Welfare Board
has fixed definite state and district
quotas beyond which cases may not be
accepted. After quotas are filled appli-
cations will be taken and filed until such
time as "vacancies" occur on the active
roll. The present state quota is 31,522.
At the first of the year the active cases
and pending applications numbered 44,-
863. In arriving at the quota system the
board had to decide between limiting the
number of cases and maintaining the
level of monthly allowances (in October
an average of $15.92) or of spreading
available funds over all eligibles. Com-
missioner Clayton B. Codrington is
quoted as saying that the quota method
was decided upon because "there is grave
doubt that the Social Security Board in
Washington would permit the lowering
of grants that primarily are based on

News Highlights Virginia is busy
considering proposals to remedy its
unique position as the one "black" state
on social security maps, with not one
program under the social security act.
In the governor's inaugural message, he
expressed his belief that a program can
be started without the imposition of a
special tax for the first year or two. A
number of widely varying plans have
been brought before the state legislature
for consideration.

In Missouri, where the old age assist-
ance rolls have been under heavy fire as
over-large in proportion to the popula
tion, the governor urged a "purging" of



H|\I> .ire nut incapacitated for work
or have nirans uf support other than pub-
lic assistance. Some reduction has been
made. Checks were sent to about 2000
fewer cases in February than in Janu-
ary, though the average payment was
slightly higher. The political implications
of reducing the present liberal assistance
rolls are not being overlooked. Press
reports say that not a few lawyer-
members of the legislature and other
attorneys are volunteering their services
to those who wish to contest with-
drawal of assistance.

A question for special handling in sev-
eral states has been the granting of old
age assistance to Indians. In Nevada,
county commissioners who have an In-
dian reservation within their jurisdiction
have protested that aid to Indians is un-
necessary as they are wards of the gov-
ernment, living on tax-free land and fur-
nished with many rations and other
means of sustenance from federal
sources. The county would be out $600
a month if required to give this aid.
That expenditure, the commissioners say,
would jeopardize the county's financial
status. . . . Indians living on a reserva-
tion in Swain County, N. C., are en-
titled to old age assistance and aid to
dependent children as citizens of the
state and of the union, an assistant at-
torney general has ruled.

Two judges in the state of Washing-
ton recently have ruled that aged per-
sons with resources of less than $360 a
year are entitled to old age assistance
regardless of the ability of the children
to support. The decision in the most re-
cent case reverses the order of the direc-
tor of the Department of Social Security
denying an applicant because the neces-
sities of life were being supplied by a
daughter and son-in-law.

States Report Although, under the
social security act, federal funds for aid
to dependent children may be used
whether the child lives with father,
mother, grandparents, uncle, aunt or a
series of step-relatives, annual reports
to the Social Security Board from states
indicate that in general local provisions
are not so liberal. Of 163,457 children
in thirty states who lived in 65,464 fam-
ilies last year (roughly those accepted
for aid between November 1, 1936 and
June 30, 1937) about 75 percent live
with their mothers. Only 17 percent of
these children are living with both par-
ents; only 2.5 percent with their fathers
and 6 percent with relatives other than
parents, according to analyses reported
in the board's second annual report.

A charting of average payments for
old age assistance in the United States
over a given period, also in the board's
last annual report, indicated that there
is a tendency to make grants in round
numbers in units of $5, rather than ad-

1829 1831 1932 1933 1934 I93S 1936 1937

Charts from Social S?curity Board
Special types of public assistance in 116 urban areas in the United States.

justed exactly to the difference between
estimated need and monthly income of
the client. There is an extreme concen-
tration of grants at the points of $10
and $15, with somewhat smaller num-
bers of persons receiving $12, $20 and
$30, and a final peak at $35.


D EPORTS have reached the Alabama
Unemployment Commission that
some employers in the state are reducing
their forces to less than eight workers,
in the belief that this will relieve them of
contributions to the unemployment insur-
ance fund. The commission points out
that only when the employer has operat-
ed one full calendar year with fewer than
eight workers can he be excused from
contributions. A special form has been
provided for the small employer who
wishes to secure exemption from the
law's provisions because he employs few-
er than eight workers.

Rulings Compensation rights of per-
sons unemployed because of labor dis-
putes in Massachusetts will be deter-
mined by the state commission as each
case arises. Each set of such claims will
be referred to the full commission for
determination of their validity. ... In
Tennessee, unemployment compensation
will not be paid to workers unemployed
because of labor disputes. ... In Mary-
land, unemployed workers whose weekly
benefit amounts are less than $5 will nev-
ertheless receive $5 a week until their
total claim on the fund is exhausted. The
Maryland Unemployment Compensation
Commission holds that this will expe-
dite the payment of small claims, and
also permit the recipients to apply for

WPA employment earlier than would he
possible if their claims were paid ac-
cording to the usual formula. . . . The
Minnesota Industrial Commission has
rescinded the definition of seasonal work
which eliminated seasonal workers from
benefits because their type of employ-
ment did not last forty weeks within a
calendar year. Persons employed on sea-
sonal jobs may now receive unemploy-
ment benefits under the state law if the
commission decides to reverse a previous

First Figures Figures covering oper-
ations from January 24, the first day on
which benefits were payable in the twen-
ty-two jurisdictions which began payment
this year, through February 5, show that
160,747 checks totaling $1,561,218.52 were
issued during the eleven days. In seven
of the twenty-one states and in the Dis-
trict of Columbia the requirements for a
three-week waiting period from date of
registration for a job and benefits made
January 31 the first date for mailing
checks. In Louisiana, where the waiting
period is four weeks, no figures were
available. The figures probably include
some second checks to the same individ-
ual, covering the second compensable

Administration Modification of Title
III of the social security act is urged by

Online LibrarySurvey AssociatesSurvey midmonthly : journal of social work (Volume 74) → online text (page 24 of 109)