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on Professor Wood's article.



Ohio and Old Age Assistance



By BEULAH AMIDON



EARLY in September, Governor Davey of Ohio and
the administrators of that state's Division of Aid for
the Aged were summoned to a hearing before the
Social Security Board in Washington on the charge that the
state's program of old age assistance is inefficient and is
"permeated from top to bottom with partisan politics." The
Ohio officials refused to attend. The board nevertheless pro-
ceeded with the hearing, and brought forward its evidence
that Governor Davey and those associated with him had
made political capital of the needs of Ohio old people and
the federal funds allotted to the state for their assistance.

It is unfortunate that the Ohio officials, unlike the Okla-
homa administrators earlier in the year [see Survey Gra-
phic, April 1938, page 203], refused to participate in the
bearing and spread on the record their account of their
handling of federal funds and of the program of aid to the
aged which has been developed in Ohio. As the result of
their failure to appear, the testimony gives only one side
of the story. But incomplete as it is, the record merits re-
view and careful consideration.

The board's criticism of the Ohio administration centers
around five main points:

1. Section 2-a of the social security act requires efficient
methods of administration. "The administration in Ohio of old

| age assistance is grossly deficient in this respect."

2. No fair hearings have been extended to dissatisfied appli-
cants and recipients, as required by the social security act.

3. The provision of the act requiring accurate reports from
the state agency has been disregarded.

4. In relation to the personnel of the state agency, there has
[been "a wholesale disregard of the standards and require-
ments of the Ohio civil service laws and of the Ohio plan for
I old age assistance."

5. The essential purposes of the social security act and the
bio legislation providing aid to the aged, namely, to assure

urity to needy aged recipients "has been impaired by the
ilization of the division of aid to the aged as a political in-



strument to influence the vote of old age assistance recipients,
applicants and their relatives."

On the question of administrative efficiency, testimony
was produced at the hearing to show that there have been
serious delays in handling applications for assistance. Fur-
ther, policies and procedures have not been established, or
have not been clearly defined and interpreted. The result
has been a lack of uniformity in administering the program
over the state and, in some instances, discrimination against
applicants and unnecessary suffering. The handling of funds
in Ohio came in for severe criticism. Three audits by audi-
tors of the Social Security Board, covering the period from
the beginning of grants through last December, show items
to which they take exception amounting to approximately
$1,900,000. They also show that the proportion of excep-
tions to payments did not decrease as the staff of the Divi-
sion of Aid for the Aged gained experience, but instead,
increased. On the basis of the three audits, the board's
spokesman estimated that total exceptions to date will be
well in excess of $2 million. "The audits indicate that the
case records in the state office do not include evidence of the
validity of a large percentage of the payments made by the
state. This inadequacy (of records) . . . indicates that there
was initially inadequate investigation or that there was an
incomplete reporting of the information essential to the de-
termination of eligibility."

The testimony showed, the board held, that hearings for
dissatisfied applicants and recipients have been held only in
a relatively small number of instances involving narrow
legal questions; that procedures for informing dissatisfied
Ohioans of their right to a fair hearing are inadequate.

The board found that the Ohio administration has disre-
garded the section of the security act requiring accurate re-
ports from the state agency. The Security Board has to rely
on figures furnished by the state in determining the amount
of the grants to the state. In Ohio, grants have been based



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315



on reports which, according to one official, had been "doc-
tored" and "juggled" in subdivision offices.

The most detailed testimony presented at the hearing re-
lated to the question of "playing politics," which involved
both the disregard of civil service requirements in the selec-
tion of the staff for the Division of Aid for the Aged, and
also the relationships between the staff and the needy aged.

In February 1938, the Social Security Board and the
Ohio Civil Service Commission cooperated in a classifica-
tion survey of the positions in the division. The survey re-
vealed "violations and circumventions of the civil service
act" amounting to "a breakdown of the merit system." It
was found that a majority of the employes of the division
are provisionally appointed, and that 95 percent of those
added to the staff since January 1, 1937 are provisional ap-
pointees, made without uniform objective standards "and
in numerous instances in disregard of the qualifications in
the plan and the provisions of the civil service law and
rules." Of 185 employes in positions for which standards
were fixed in the plan, 141 failed to meet the minimum ex-
perience requirements at the time of their appointment.
Among the provisional appointees to social work positions
were persons whose principal occupational experience was:
taxi driver, meat cutter, men's tailor, truck driver, tool
dresser on oil drilling operation, bank messenger, saleswo-
man in glove department, embalmer.

The Ohio civil service act specifies that provisional ap-
pointments are to be made for a period not to exceed ninety
days. In 537 cases, the survey showed, these appointments
had continued beyond that period, in seventeen instances for
as long as three years. The testimony lists several pages of
additional violations of the civil service act turned up by
the survey : for example, under the civil service act, emer-
gency appointments are limited to a maximum period of
thirty days. Several emergency appointments in the central
office of the division have lasted over one year.

Another civil service rule provides that no person shall
be eligible for examination for promotion who lacks the
preliminary requirements for original entrance to the posi-
tion. A number of violations of this rule are cited.

The witness who summarized the survey at the hearing
commented :

These violations of state personnel rules and regulations, of
accepted personnel practices under a merit system, and of the
public assistance plan submitted to the board are significant
both as direct evidence of improper administration and as a
cause for other inefficiency in administration. The cost of
operating an agency and its administrative efficiency depend on
the caliber of its personnel, and failure to achieve the objec-
tives of the social security act and the state laws and plan may
be attributable to the character of the personnel practices in
the agency. There has been a failure to conform to the stand-
ards recognized by the state in its laws and its agreement
with the board as necessary to proper administration.

This failure in personnel practice is closely linked, in the
board's testimony, with the evidence of political manipula-
tion of the whole assistance program. Witnesses at the
hearing told how, in Governor Davey's election campaign
in 1936 and in this year's primary campaign in which Gov-
ernor Davey was defeated for renomination, members of
the staff of the division were used as active campaigners,
and recipients of old age assistance were appealed to for
their votes and their influence with friends and relatives.

To inquire into the repeated charges that the state agency
was carrying on political activities, and to find out how such

316



activities were affecting old age assistance applicants and
recipients, the Social Security Board sent five members of
its staff to Ohio. These investigators visited recipients in ten
counties and interviewed other persons in some of the coun-
ties. The staff report, according to testimony presented at
the hearing, "involves the state agency in the carrying out
of a carefully arranged and systematic plan to exploit, polit-
ically, old age assistance applicants and recipients."

It was found that during the 1938 primary campaign
there had been wide circulation of a letter from Governor
Davey among recipients of old age assistance, beginning
"Dear Friend," and concluding: "Would you be willing to
talk to all your relatives and friends, and ask them to go
to the polls without fail on primary election day ... in
order to vote for me? You might be able to see three or
four dozen of your friends, and get their assurance that
they will support me for renomination. I shall be very grate-
ful for your cordial cooperation, so that I will be in a posi-
tion to help you still further." With this went an "Open
Letter of Interest to All Recipients of Old Age Benefits,"
over the name of 'the chief of the division, extolling the gov-
ernor as a leading exponent of old age assistance.

The inquiry revealed that a caller unknown to the re-
cipient would make a threat of loss of aid, or promise of an
increased allowance, according to how the recipient voted ; .
"it was found also that an employe of the division of aid
for the aged later visited recipients to whom such state-
ments had been made to notarize and seal the ballots."

In other instances, staff members of the subdivision of-
fices did not confine themselves to "following up" the elec-
tioneering activities of other persons but themselves made
such suggestions as that "the recipient should vote for Gov-
ernor Davey who gave the pensions"; that it would be "a j
good idea to vote for Governor Davey because he sent thei
checks out"; that if the recipient did not vote for Davey
"she would lose her pension"; that the worker had beeni
"ordered to campaign for Governor Davey."

Perhaps the best summary of the effect of the Ohio situa-i
tion on the needy aged of the state was that of the Franklin
County grand jury at the April 1938 term, which included
in its final report:

We find where most pitiful appeals are being made to
cipients of aid for the aged for their suffrage and suppo
. . . these recipients are advanced in years and most of th<
are decrepit. Weak in body and mind, they are made to feel, by
repeated appeals, oral and written, that they owe their exist-'
ence to those in power and unless they do their bidding their
allowances will either be reduced or entirely cut off. This i^
not as it should be.

At this writing, the Social Security Board has not made '
public a decision in the Ohio case. Governor Davey, refus-
ing to have Ohio represented at the Washington hearin<:
offered no data in his letter to Arthur J. Altmeyer, chair-
man of the board, which was made public September 1
Governor Davey held in general that old age assistance in
the state had been honestly and efficiently administered, and
charged that the chairman and members of the board "play
politics with your own employes"; and that employes of
the board "are required to belong to the CIO whether they
like it or not." He also called the threat to withhold fundsi;
"a political bluff," stating that when Ohio tried to amend'
the old age pension plan to provide that "no rules or regu^r
lations shall be made setting up educational requirements te\
a condition of taking a civil service examination" except in^
cases where such requirements are imposed by statute, agentsi

SURVEY MIDMONTHLV



of the board threatened members of the legislature with
withdrawal of federal funds if the law was passed. "The
amendment was passed almost unanimously in both houses,"
Governor Davey wrote, "and you did not make good your
threat."

It is of course possible that the board will feel that the
Ohio situation as brought out by its staff of investigators
and the other testimony presented at the hearing can be
allowed to "ride along," in the hope of improvement under



Governor Davey's successor. But the difficult alternative
may prevail, and the board may hold that, in spite of the
hardship it will entail for the 100,000 recipients of old age
assistance in Ohio, the integrity of the whole social security
program requires that federal funds be withdrawn until the
board has some assurance that aid to the state's aged will be
brought into line with the security act and the Ohio law,
its administration made efficient and non-partisan, its al-
lowances based solely on the need of the applicants for aid.



Placement for Social Workers

By ARTHUR DUNHAM

Curriculum of Social Work, University of Michigan



IF you found out tomorrow morning that your present
job in social work was going to fold up on December
31, what would you do? What would you consider
your best resources for getting another job: The recom-
mendation of your present employer? The suggestions of
friends and colleagues? A placement service connected with
your school of social work? Would you use Joint Vocational
Service, as a national vocational service for social workers,
in your attempt to connect with a new job? Are you already
registered with this agency, or would you have to start from
scratch? Would you consider it a major resource in your
search for a new position, or would you rate it as probably
iseful to you than some other channels?

Social agencies and social workers rarely make more im-
jortant decisions than those connected with the offering and
acceptance of jobs. The factors that enter into these deci-
sions, and any machinery that exists to facilitate them, are
a basic concern of the social work profession.

As a matter of history, the American Association of Social
Workers grew out of an employment agency, the National
Social Workers' Exchange. During its first five years the
AASW operated a vocational bureau. Because of the feei-
ng among the members of the association that it should be
supported by professional memberships alone, and because
this was impossible so long as the association carried a voca-
tional bureau, the AASW decided at the Denver meeting
U 1925 that the vocational bureau should be transferred to
other auspices by the beginning of 1927.

As a result, Joint Vocational Service was established on
fanuary 1, 1927 to serve social workers and public health
nurses "through giving advice and placement and other per-
sonnel service, in the fields of public health nursing and
wcial work." This joint service operated until July 1, 1938,
*rhen the public health nursing service was transferred to
;rse Placement Service in Chicago, a national agency
mder professional auspices which had previously served
:hiefly the institutional field.

While JVS was still in the "pre-school" period three
ild, to be exact the depression struck. In the course

five years the whole social work landscape, including most

the personnel landmarks, changed so completely that it
ced like a new continent. After the period of emergency

lief programs came the social security act, the building of
lanent public welfare programs, the emergence of new
[ivil service merit systems.

Inevitably the question arises: What is the place of JVS

any in the field of social work today? It is simple
jgh to say that the function of a placement service is to



place. As a matter of fact, that answer is too simple, for
many persons turn to JVS for vocational information and
consultation rather than placement. This service requires
in the aggregate days and weeks of staff time. But payments
are made on the basis of placements, with a widening gap
between the service rendered and the financial basis of
support.

These are some of the considerations that have led a spe-
cial study committee of JVS, headed by Elinor Blackman of
the Jewish Social Service Association of New York, to plan
an inquiry into "the whole problem of vocational service
for social workers as a basis for sound future planning."
The question at issue is not merely, "What is the future of
JVS?" It is the much broader problem: Does the field of
social work need and want a national vocational service?
If so, what should be the program, organization and sources
of support of such a service? If no such service is needed,
what is the most desirable alternative?

The committee has enlisted the services of Dorothy
Dulles Bourne, former director of the School of Social
Work of the University of Puerto Rico, and of the writer
as staff collaborators in the study.

IT is the conviction of those in charge of the study that the
answer, whatever it may be, will come not primarily
from any inside administrative scrutiny of JVS but rather
from a full and free consultation and exploration with social
workers and social agencies an attempt to get at their ex-
perience and thinking in the area of vocational service.

To this end members of the staff will visit some twenty-
five communities in various sections of the country and will
reach many others through correspondence. Among the
groups to be consulted are chapters of the AASW, employ-
ing agencies, individual social workers, schools of social
work, state welfare departments and other state agencies,
national agencies, employment services, unions and rank-
and-file representatives, and student organizations. A de-
tailed discussion of the problems involved in the study, with
questions posed for comment and discussion, is contained
in a pamphlet which will be sent, on request, by the JVS
112 East 22 Street, New York City.

The study is predicated on the belief that: "This is a
problem not for any small group of national agencies or
social work 'leaders' alone but for the social workers and
social agencies of the United States. The problem rests
squarely with the profession of social work. The solution,
if it is sound, must be a decision of the profession, arrived
at on the basis of democratic discussion and decision."



fOBER 1938



317



The Common Welfare



Graham Taylor

TO use words inimitably his own, there was neighborship
and forthgoingness in Graham Taylor to whom death
has come in his eighty-seventh year. Like his trust in God,
they were yeast in all his works. At the fortieth anniversary
of Chicago Commons in 1934, Charles H. Dennis, long time
editor of the Chicago Daily News, caught what they mean
in delineating its Warden: "He has been the great friend of
everybody within reach."

That can be placed alongside Miss Addams' character-
ization that the settlement Professor Taylor founded "pos-
sesses a significance all its own as one of the pioneer efforts
in the understanding of life" ; that her friend and co-worker
over the decades was compact above all of "undaunted cour-
age and irrepressible good will." She added:

As years went by the settlements, domiciled within the
shadow of hardship and racial confusion, found themselves
strangely initiated into the industrial unrest all about them
and into the aspirations for a better social order. Their ad-
vocacy of free discussion among men of different theories and
of alien experiences inevitably brought new criticisms, and per-
haps Graham Taylor's valiant defense of free speech saved
the settlements from defeat in performing what seemed to
them an important function.

When, in 1936, Professor Taylor brought out his last
book, Chicago Commons Through 40 Years, there was a
chapter, The Will to Understand Those at Variance in
Industry. This has an unrusted message for social workers
and social agencies caught these years in cleavages in our
communities that we have a responsible part to play in our
own right, backed by the test of creative experience.

Six years before he had brought out his autobiography,
Pioneering on Social Frontiers. Characteristically, he felt
that this was too limited a record. Half the items in the
index of the later volume are the names of those who had
shared in the fellowship of Chicago Commons. With his
expansiveness, he had the gift for dramatizing their daily
round. His glee was infectious. With his openness, he had
the greater gift of sensing human wrong and need, and
rallying wrath or concern to their redress. To set out with
him became an expedition. To work with him was an ad-
venture. On the civic front, for example, as one of the
founders of the Municipal Voters League. On the industrial
front as one of the commissioners who brought generosity,
justice and protective law out of the Cherry Mine disaster.
On the educational front, in initiating the Chicago School
of Civics and Philanthropy in 1903 and in building up,
from 1892 on, the first department of social economics at
the Chicago Theological Seminary, where Graham Taylor
Hall stands today. And through it all, Chicago Commons
was his home and base for the inveterate play of that neigh-
borship which, as head resident, his daughter, Lea Taylor,
has carried forward without break.

Less than a year ago, Graham Taylor sent robust greet-
ings to the Silver Anniversary of Survey Associates. His
service as associate editor covers a third of a century. He had
been editor of The Commons when that was merged with
Charities in 1905, to become The Survey in 1909; and from



the start his work and writings and thrust of imagination
have given vitality and breadth to the venture.

Less than six months ago, I sat in his library at Ravinia
and wrote in a large hand on sheets of paper. That was the
way I could best communicate with him. But there was
nothing wrong with his forthgoingness the other way round.
Everybody and everything seemed within reach of the eager
rovings of his mind. He was still the great friend, still beset
with his unquenchable zest for life and action.

And now, as John Bunyan wrote of Great Heart, as
Graham Taylor wrote of George Eddy (heroic night boss
of the Cherry Mine), as John Gavit writes of his associate
for almost half a century, he has crossed over; and "all the
trumpets sounded for him on the other side." P. K.

The AMA Faces Ahead

/"CONVENED last month in special session, the House
^^ of Delegates of the American Medical Association
weighed the recommendations of the National Health Con-
ference [see The Unserved Millions by Helen Hall and
Paul Kellogg, Survey Graphic, September 1938] and wrote
a notable chapter in professional history. In essence the phy-
sicians approved in principle the proposals put forward by
the conference, short of those for compulsory health insur-
ance.

Expansion of public health and maternal and child welfare
services, but this "should not include the treatment of disease
except so far as this cannot be successfully accomplished
through the private practitioner."

The expansion of general hospital facilities where need
exists, but "there is at present greater need for the use of
existing hospital facilities than for additional hospitals."

The principle that "the complete medical care of the in-
digent is a responsibility of the community, medical and allied
professions" and should be organized by local government
units and supported by tax funds.

The principle of hospital service insurance and of cash i
demnity insurance for meeting the costs of emergency or pr
longed sickness provided such efforts are approved by coun
and state medical societies.

Expansion of workmen's compensation to provide agai
loss of wages during illness.

On the controversial issue of compulsory health insur
a reversal of long reiterated AMA policy could scare
have been expected at this time:

We are not willing to foster any system of compulsory
health insurance. We are convinced that it is a complicated
bureaucratic system which has no place in a democratic state.
It would undoubtedly set up a far reaching tax system with
great increase in the cost of government. That it would lend
itself to political control and manipulation there is no doubt.

Nevertheless, it should be noted that the expansion of
workmen's compensation proposed at the National Health
Conference in July by President Green of the AF of L,
and here endorsed, is an adaptation of the insurance prin-
ciple to lost earnings due to sickness if not to medical costs.

There is also a further inconsistency in implying that tax-
supported medical care can be trusted for the "medically
needy," but not for the rest of us. It is more pertinent to



318



SURVEY MIDMONTHLY '



Online LibrarySurvey AssociatesSurvey midmonthly : journal of social work (Volume 74) → online text (page 85 of 109)