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Survey midmonthly : journal of social work (Volume 74) online

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that this rural half has its problems of unemployment,
family life, housing and health, and its own youth worries,
too.

More than two million farmhands have lost their jobs
permanently, and those who still hold on make less in a
year than unskilled workers in the cities. One machine now
shells as much corn in an hour and a half as a farm laborer
could, by hand, in twenty days.

More than three fourths of all rural people carry water
from wells, have outdoor toilets, use kerosene lamps, have
neither bathtubs nor showers, neither electricity nor radios.

Doctors in rural areas are growing older and fewer,
while health problems multiply. Recent graduates of medi-
cal schools do not come to rural districts.

Lack of jobs, delayed marriages, loafing, drinking and
petty gambling are boring at the lives of rural young people.
Between two and three millions of them are damned up on
the home farms, with neither opportunities nor facilities to
train themselves for new occupations, nor incentives to fol-
low their parents' way of life. The outlets they find for
themselves bring complications into family situations which
probably are not unique to rural life but which are certainly
baffling.

Now, of course, a rural person goes at his problems in
his own peculiar way. I recall old Tim Smithers, who lived
on a ranch in an arid district, seven miles from the nearest
well. For years he carried water in barrels loaded on his
old ox-cart. One day someone said, "Tim, why don't you
dig yourself a well nearer home? Seven miles is a mighty
long way to draw water." "Well," replied Tim, "there
aint much difference; it's just as far down as acrost."

Rural social workers, too, must go at their problems
realistically in terms of the situation, resources available,
and their own abilities. Because rural work is different-
and it really is, Miss Bailey I was glad to know this past
summer of a job analysis being made of the duties of county

308



social workers in rural areas. I received a copy of the check
list of duties which I understand was sent to a number of
rural county directors in all the states. I suspect that a good
many others were as surprised as I was when I counted up
how many of these duties were a part of my daily work. I'd
never really thought about it before.

This list had 528 duties a county social worker might
have to do. When I finished checking I found I was doing
371 of them. I felt a little ashamed to have to check so
many, and I know that I don't do any of them as well as
I'd like to. Yet the fact remains. I actually have 371 duties
which I must do myself, or must see to getting done.

Let me run over a few of them, starting off with case'
work for all the welfare services including old age assis-
tance, aid to dependent children, the blind, crippled chil-
dren, maternal and child health, direct relief, WPA, CCC,
NYA and transients. For these we have the duties of intake,
home visits, case records, budgeting, correspondence and
treatment.

THEN there are community contacts with school and
church people, government officials, county commis-
sioners, bankers, editors, the Rotary and Kiwanis clubs, then
Masons, the Farm Bureau, and chamber of commerce, thei
Red Cross chapter, and the PTA, as well as women's club:
and client groups. And that isn't all of them by a long chalkx
A county worker can't turn around or open her mouth witlni
out making a community contact, and if she doesn't realizi
it at first she soon will.

Also, we who are responsible for the functioning of the
office must hunt for office space often catch-as-catch-can im
rural parts must equip it with desks and chairs, must sev
up our own filing system, hire and train clerks, and superr
vise and train case work assistants.

Finally, we must be available for conferences with super
visors and state and federal officials, must attend training
institutes and prepare regular weekly, monthly and yearl;
statistical and narrative reports, to say nothing of specia.i
reports.

As I said before, I checked 371 duties on the list sent t<:
me but the more I think about it, the more I realize tha
the actual number of tasks is many times 371, for the simplu
naming of any one duty does not give a picture of the actua
work involved in discharging or even in tackling it. On<
duty brings on a whole flock of others which by no stretcl
of the imagination can be foreseen.

For example, in the matter of correspondence for aid t<
dependent children, take just one case, call it the Smitl
family. There were eight dependent children, none of whon
had been registered at birth. To get the births legally veri
fied and so to establish their eligibility for ADC it wan
necessary to write twenty-six letters and they couldn't W'
form letters either. Each one had to be framed to meet thr
mind of the person from whom we wanted the information:
It took us from September 7, 1937 to May 10, 1938, to,
round up all the verifications of birth of those eight Smitlt)
children, all of whom had so undeniably been born.

Then, consider the matter of verifying the age of Saralj
Jones, applicant for old age assistance. But I won't taU

SURVEY MIDMONTHIA;



your time to tell that, Miss Bailey. You can imagine,
though, our dismay when our letters and visits turned up
ten different ages for her, when all we wanted was a veri-
fication of one age.

In the matter of community contacts, I had to make
twenty-two in one month in order to get one child to a
hospital for needed treatment. These contacts included
clinics, hospitals, doctors, relatives, landlord, the chairman
of the Red Cross chapter, the Sunday School superintendent,
county commissioner, the treasurer of a Bible class, the
rural postman, a Traveler's Aid worker, a bus company,
ami M> on. Many of them were necessary to raise $15 for
the expense of the trip to the hospital, and several of them
to secure the consent of the parents for the treatment.

In addition to all the regular services, we have many
miscellaneous duties, including that of arranging for county
burials. One cold morning I was routed out of bed about
four o'clock by word that the night watchman for the last
shipment of government pigs had had a stroke and had
fallen into a pen. The whole thing was pretty awful and
in the midst of all the horror the undertaker had to be
persuaded to make a reduced price for caring for what was
left of the watchman. Rural work brings an acceptance of
the hazards of life, and we learn to do what we have to do.

Rural social workers long have felt the need for special
skills to help them not only with case work but with office
management, personnel supervision, publicity, writing, com-
munity organization, budgeting, clerical procedures and
group leadership. Skills for us, however, must be based on
an understanding of the realities of rural life. For example,
the rural county director must know the essentials of clerical

k since rural districts seldom can produce any trained
or experienced office workers. I remember when Mamie
Lou came in to do our filing: she was not stumped by her
new job ; she simply lumped all correspondence in two files,
labelled starkly, Mail We Sent, and Mail We Got. When
any letter had to be located the trick was to remember
whether it was "Sent" or "Got."

A 5 to group leadership, I don't know of any book that
could prepare a social worker for the kind of things
we meet in a rural community. Books give us philosophy, of
course, and an idea of basic techniques, but it takes practice
and quick thinking and gumption to start with to adapt
them to our circumstances.

One bitterly cold night I went out to Prairie View, a
little settlement on the edge of our county, to talk over
certain new government regulations. The meeting place
was an abandoned one-room depot where a pot-bellied, hot-
blast stove furnished the heat. A table for me was at one
nd with chairs in rows down the length of the room. As
the hot-blast stove went into action, the people near it began
mop their faces, while those near the loosely boarded
alls were blowing on their chilly fingers. Soon there was
luch moving about and changing of seats and, of course,
nattention. I was slow to comprehend that this was a
^operative demonstration of sharing the heat and the cold,
despaired of the success of the meeting until I thought
a group technique of my own to keep people hot and
old in the same places at the same time. We moved the
hair-, into a circle around the stove, and thus achieved
ome integration, a uniform heat-in-the-front and cold-in-
he-back condition, which is the best you can do with a
lot-blast stove.
While individual rural social workers are contributing

XTTOBER 1938



valuable techniques in their own situations, these are not
known generally by rural social workers as a group. To re-
tain the best in developing practice and to evolve better and
more scientific procedures, we must engage in that good
old-fashioned, sometimes belittled, business of cooperation.

We need to pool our experiences. The greatest contribu-
tion to interpretation of the needs and skills of rural social
work will undoubtedly come from the workers themselves.
Some of them already have developed techniques for re-
ducing burdensome routine and detail, others have worked
out office forms, plans for study groups, and programs of
in-service staff training. Our days are too busy, our lives
too full of pressing obligations, to tackle every problem in a
trial and error fashion. We need the benefit of the experi-
ence of other rural social workers, both successes and
failures.

We could profit from an exchange of ideas on the best
books for rural workers. We'd like to hear from workers
who have honestly read and applied the material they have
found in professional literature. Eventually we might arrive
at a worthwhile "five-foot shelf" of books for rural social
workers. Recently I attended a meeting of a newly formed
association of rural workers who were trying to decide
what books would be most helpful to buy with their limited
funds. One worker read over the titles of a number of
books advertised and reviewed in Survey Midmonthly,
hoping that someone present might be able to advise which
of the books would be helpful in the particular problems of
the group. It was possible to tell these workers about many
government bulletins and other pamphlets with material
that bears on their area of work. I wish that we might have
clearer and more comprehensive descriptive statements
reviews if you like of such bulletins and pamphlets so that
rural social workers could determine quickly which ones are
most practical for their purposes. A lot of time and effort
is spent now in "spearing around."

AS'OTHER thing we need is ideas and suggestions for
programs for client association meetings, for young
people's forums, for "Old Age" parties, as well as lists of
simple games and other aids to rural good times.

I am convinced that the stuff of real literature is present
in the happenings in rural social work and that this should
not be lost to our culture. The workers sense the drama
and the significance in this day-to-day work, and talk about
it among themselves. But they are chary about writing it
down or perhaps too busy. Is there not some way to en-
courage them to write realistically about rural life as they
are experiencing it, and of the job of rural social work as it
is developing?

Finally, the question arises, how are we to achieve this
contribution and cooperation by rural social workers? You,
Miss Bailey, always understanding of client problems, will
appreciate our need. Could you persuade the "powers that
be" to give the problems of rural social work a little space
in Survey Mtimonthly? Couldn't you ask the workers them-
selves what are the things they find most difficult to cope
with and then give us a chance to discuss them in our own
way out of our own experience? Somewhere, between the
skyscrapers of urban social work, there must be a place for
us to conserve our grass roots!

But now the glory of a prairie sunset fills the sky. I
declare I've written more than I intended, but you know
how it is once one gets going. Let us hear from you, Miss
Bailey! [For "Miss Bailey's" reply, see page 323.]

309



In-Service Training for Public Welfare

1. The Whys and Whats

By JOSEPHINE C. BROWN

Administrative Assistant, Works Progress Administration



IN-SERVICE training is a phrase borrowed from other
fields and relatively new to social work. During the
Emergency Relief Administration we talked about
"teaching-on-the-job," and before that, in the pre-depression
era, many social agencies gave their workers "apprenticeship
training." These terms were applied to very different proc-
esses, designed to meet situations which varied sharply from
each other and from the situation today in personnel needs
and training facilities.

There is no question but that we now need a new term,
and in-service training has an extensive, if somewhat con-
fused, usage in other fields. But recent discussions have made
me wonder whether we were not in danger of putting the
cart before the horse taking the newly ad9pted phrase and
arbitrarily applying it to our present program, instead of
looking at the job, seeing just what it involves, and then
deciding whether any part of it can fairly be called in-
service training.

In these articles I shall try to make some such analysis of
in-service training, considering here the reasons for such
instruction on the job and what it should seek to accom-
plish ; and in the succeeding article, I shall consider methods.
The discussion may take us over familiar ground, for it in-
volves an examination of the whole function of the public
welfare agency in relation to personnel standards and de-
velopment of the staff. And it must be borne in mind that
we shall be dealing with a subject of many intangible values
and uncertain boundary lines.

A public welfare agency has by its very nature a three-
fold obligation: to the government which has given it legal
authority and defined its functions; to the public whose
money it spends ; and to the men, women, and children who
are entitled to its assistance. The last is the most important
since it is the purpose for which the agency exists.

The first essential in doing a job well is to learn what
the job is, exactly what it involves, how each part of it
should be performed and the kind of personnel required.
This means a careful, detailed definition of function, and
an equally clear description of every type of job called for.
The resulting class specifications, to use the technical term,
must be very clear about personal qualities, academic and
professional education and experience.

Having faced these personnel objectives, the next step is
to analyze and compare the qualifications of the existing
staff. The discrepancies and gaps revealed by a comparison
of the two sets of qualifications will give some indication of
the amount and kind of work that needs to be done in
order to build up the existing staff into a staff which meets,
as nearly as possible, the personnel objectives already set
forth. This development of staff involves a double responsi-
bility. The agency's part is to discover and make available
to each staff member what he needs in the ways he can best
use it. The crux of the matter is, of course, the extent to
which the staff member applies what is offered.

What do the staff members need? In other words, what
do they lack in terms of the desirable qualifications for their
respective jobs?

310



At the risk of over-simplification I have ventured to list
the most common lacks realizing that more than one of
them will apply to most staff members and that there is
almost no end to the combinations of qualifications and of
lacks on every administrative level.

The most satisfactory way to get at the essence of the
problem seems to be to look at these needs and suggest some !
of the things an agency might do about each of them.

Every public welfare agency is likely to find that many of it*
staff lack all, or part, of (heir professional education.

This is the most serious lack of all and it is one which no
agency training can supply. It is a deficiency striking at the
very heart of the job itself. Some day it will be just as
unheard of to set up a public welfare agency without a full
technical staff who have graduated in their professional
field, as it would seem now to staff a hospital with one-year i
medical students and practical nurses!

In the meantime, there are two ways in which an agency
can begin to build a professionally educated staff: by giving
due weight to this factor in the selection of personnel, and
by granting leave with pay to selected staff members in
order that they may attend accredited schools of social work.
It is just as important that a worker who has had part of
his professional education should complete it, as that another
worker should begin his studies. It may be equally valuable
to have a worker who has graduated go back to specialize
in a subject which will make him more useful on his return.

It is worth noting, however, that a series of unrelated,
single courses, taken under a variety of auspices and circum-
stances, do not constitute professional education. So often
"training" is judged by the results of such scattered efforts
at learning.

Probably very few of the staff who lack professional edu-
cation can be given leave at any one time. This means that
many, perhaps most of the visitors in the county offices,
must go on doing their jobs with whatever help the agency
can give them.

These visitors need help in two main areas: first, on the
mechanics of the job, in planning and organizing their
work; and second, in their relationships with the people
with whom they are working. The last covers a wide field.
It includes the visitors' relationships, attitudes and philoso-
phy in regard to their clients, to the rest of the staff, to the
agency and to the public, and the reasons underlying these
relationships and attitudes. Its object is to help them learn
what to do on the day-to-day job, how to do it, and why.
This is the most difficult task in the entire process of staff
development. It is peculiarly pressing because there are so
many staff members without professional education. The
problem is to give them what will help them safeguard and
serve the best interests of the clients, the agency, and the
public, and to do this in such a way as to develop the
visitors, stimulate interest in the professional field on the
part of those who show capacity for it, and make the whole
process one of sound sub-professional instruction, no aspect
of which will later have to be unlearned.

SURVEY MIDMONTHLV



A certain number of the Man* will not hive secured all of their
undergraduate credits.

, The effort to be made in meeting this lack will depend
upon several factors related both to the visitors themselves,
and to the colleges and universities in the state. For the
sake of the future as well as the present personnel needs of
the agency, the grade A colleges and universities should be
asked to develop, if they have not already done so, the pre-
professional curriculum outlined by the American Associa-
tion of Schools of Social Work. To what extent these
courses may also be offered outside the institutions, either
by correspondence or on an extension basis, will depend
upon many factors, including the policies of the institutions
involved, their accessibility, the content of the courses, and
the number of prospective students.

The visitors who have not finished their undergraduate
work will probably show wide variations in number of
credits, academic standing, and capacity for growth. No
rules can, of course, be laid down, but in general it is safe
to say that encouragement to complete their undergraduate
work should be given only to the staff members who lack
relatively few credits and whose personal qualities and per-
formance on the job give such promise as would seem to
justify the agency in making a later investment in their
professional education. These visitors need the same kind
of sub-professional instruction as has been indicated above.

There may be staff members who lack suitable personal quali-
ties, aptitudes and interest.

As the process of staff development goes on it would seem
logical to replace these workers by others who have better
qualifications. However, it is never as simple as this. On
the contrary, the problem is so complicated that only one
or two general suggestions are possible. In making evalua-
tions every care should be taken to assure fairness both to
the worker and to the job. A worker about whom there is
doubt should be given every reasonable opportunity to show
his capacity under favorable conditions. If supervision is of

i^h caliber and the staff is being directed on a professional
level, the worker who is unsuited to the job may sooner or
later realize his own inadequacy. The encouragement given
to self-evaluation should hasten such a decision and good
vocational advice may save him from a destructive experi-
ence by suggesting work for which he is better suited.

Staff members with professional education need to adapt their
knowledge and skill to their particular jobs.

The agency's responsibility for staff development is not
limited to the workers who lack professional education. It



extends in a somewhat different but equally important way
to workers who have had part or all of their professional
education, in addition to successful experience, including
those who satisfy the full requirements of the agency for
the positions to which they are assigned. These staff mem-
bers need to continue to add to their knowledge and skills
and to make a continuous adaptation of their resources to
an ever changing job. New knowledge and experience is
thus gained from day to day. Professional education has pre-
pared the worker to practice in the field of social work. But
he must continually apply what he has learned.

Every staff member needs information about the agency, and
the state, county, city in which he is working.
So far the needs discussed have pertained in each case only
to part of the staff. In addition there exists for every mem-
ber of the staff regardless of academic or professional equip-
ment, a need for information about his job, the agency and
the community. This has a special significance for new staff
members, as introduction and orientation. It should include
relevant historical and other background information re-
garding the state (county and city), the agency, its function,
policies, procedures; the law under which the agency oper-
ates ; related legislation ; other state agencies ; local agencies,
community resources and problems, and so forth. Definite
help should be given in using this information and in under-
standing its relation to the job and the relation of the job
to the development of public welfare legislation and pro-
grams in state and nation.

Considered in terms of content, then, there are two dis-
tinct ways in which the lacks of staff members may be sup-
plied and staff development achieved one, distinct and pre-
eminent, is professional education ; the other may be arbi-
trarily called in-service training. But within this in-service
training three distinct divisions should be clearly recognized.
First, the orientation and information about the particular
job given to all staff members ; second, the constant develop-
ment of the professional staff members in relation to the
particular job they are doing; and third, the special as-
sistance given the staff members who have not had profes-
sional education so that they may use their limited equip-
ment to the best advantage, in the interest of client, agency
and public. While it may not be possible to give opportuni-
ties for professional education to more than a few workers
at one time, in-service training by the very nature of its
three-fold content is potentially available to every staff
member all the time.

In her article next month, Aliss Brown discusses the
"hows" of in-service training for public welfare work.



Institution Libraries in Minnesota



By LOUIS TOWLEY
State Department of Public Institutions



"R F



EADING maketh a full man." Somewhere close
to this best word ever said about reading lies the
principle underlying the institution library pro-
gram of the Minnesota State Board of Control.

Books and periodicals have a recognized place in Minne-



Online LibrarySurvey AssociatesSurvey midmonthly : journal of social work (Volume 74) → online text (page 83 of 109)