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of auspices, and with content ranging all the way from the
discussion of a single topic to something comparable to a
formal conference program.

IN using the group method, flexibility and variety have
points, of course, but they should follow, not precede,
careful planning which relates form to content. To assure
the best results, the kind of group to be used must be de-
termined in relation to both the material and the staff
members involved. While this planning should obviously
grow out of the needs of a particular staff, there are a few
general considerations which seem worth noting.

Integration and simplicity will be promoted if the plan-
ning is based on the principle that the group method be
used as a direct tool of supervision or as supplementary to
the supervisory process. All the more useful forms seem to
be variations of a few major types. These include the more
or less formal staff meeting which has a definite adminis-
trative purpose; and the less formal staff group discussions
which may be occasional meetings about a specific problem
or meetings of the same group at regular intervals, with
discussion topics planned in a definite sequence and with
a definite objective in mind. There is also a place for the
staff committee which has a specific assignment and makes
its report to the group or to the supervisor as the case
may be.

As a rule, better results seem to be obtained in a group
made up of people who have fairly comparable education
and experience. Also a succession of meetings of the same
people at not too infrequent intervals proves to be, on the
whole, much more satisfactory than to have a somewhat
different group almost every time a "class" or a "discussion
group" meets. A more formal method is the definite course
or seminar given for a group of the staff as a part of in-
service training and entirely under agency auspices. Al-
though no academic credit is involved, it is important to
make sure that the material to be taught and the qualifica-
tions of the teacher really justify the course. It is all too
easy to attach this label to what is virtually a series of
staff discussions.

The training unit or district is more than a group device.
It is a concentrated and intensive use of supervision in a
setting especially designed for the purpose. While potential-
ly every form of in-service training can be given in such
units, they have so far been found most useful for the
orientation of new workers and their induction to the job
over periods of a few weeks to several months. Such units
seem to have great possibilities wherever qualified super-
visors are available.

The question of institutes can be readily disposed of.
Someone has defined an expert as a person who is a long
way from home. I should like to define an institute as a
mixed group of people away from home trying to learn
a great deal in a hurry. Institutes of this description may
have had value in an emergency program, though this is
a debatable point. But clearly they have no place in a per-
manent program.

There are, however, other kinds of meetings often called
institutes that may still be useful under certain circum-



stances. One of these is the staff meeting or discussion
group extended over a day or more in some quiet place
away from office interruptions. Or two or three courses
may be pursued concurrently by a group of people giving
all their time to intensive study for several weeks. The
agency may conduct regional conferences in different parts
of the state with planned programs for the staff, the gen-
eral public, or both.

This discussion of conferences, institutes and courses
brings up at once the question of auspices. What is the
relation to in-service training of courses given by schools
of social work? Of the state conference institute? Of the
state conference itself ?

The purpose of in-service training is to help the workers
do a better job on the staff of the agency, and content and
method are planned to that end. This being the case, it
follows that the agency should be responsible for the content
of specific training for its own job. Instruction and oppor-
tunities for development offered through other channels
may have much value for the workers, but they would not
be organized with reference to the work of the agency.
Therefore, they are not to be considered in-service training.

This raises a question of the relationship between profes-
sional education and the development of an agency's staff.
Every part of a worker's growth and development has a
double reference. It has value to himself as a person, and
it has meaning for his job. The primary purpose of profes-
sional education is to give the student professional insight,
attitudes and skills. The agency for which he works benefits
by that education, although this is of secondary importance
as far as the worker is concerned. There would be less
confusion on this point if all staff members had secured
their professional education and become professional per-
sons before their employment. But every bit of true edu-
cation and training, from whatever source, benefits both
worker and agency. The primary purpose and the content
would determine, it seems to me, the category of each
learning experience.

'"T^HERE are three general avenues of development for
A a member of an agency's staff. The first is professional
education. Here the agency's responsibility is to give the
worker educational leave. The school of social work, not
the agency, is responsible for content. The second is the
threefold in-service training described above, for the content
of which the agency alone is responsible. Least important
of the three are the miscellaneous means which the worker
uses on his own responsibility, largely on his own initiative
and primarily for his own advantage as a professional per-
son. In this category come much of his reading, his attend-
ance at conferences, and the courses he takes which are
neither under the auspices of his own agency nor accredited
by a school as part of his professional education.

In-service training, then, is that part of staff develop-
ment for the content of which the agency is entirely re-
sponsible. For this reason it is essential that the agency
provide the adequate supervision which is the foundation
of an in-service training program. On the field staff and
in local units there should be supervisors who are adequate
in professional equipment, experience and number, to meet
the needs of the entire staff. Constant strengthening of
supervisory lines is of vital importance to a public welfare
agency which intends to fulfill its obligation to the govern- <
ment, to the public, and to the men, women and children
of the state who are in need of assistance.



348



SURVEY MIDMONTHLY



Here in Washington



By The Survey's
OBSERVER



STRONG support is developing on Capitol Hill for an amendment to the
social security act to require states to administer federal funds for public
assistance and unemployment compensation under merit systems. The
present act limits the federal authority relative to the "selection, tenure of of-
fice, and compensation of personnel." The Social Security Board recently has
put under civil service its entire personnel, from executive director right down
the line to messengers, and has abolished the exempted classification of experts.
More than twenty states already have established some type of merit system

with technical aid and encouragement

McKellar's bill eliminated the present
restriction and substituted a requirement
that state plans must include "methods
for the selection of personnel on a merit
basis." Senator Byrnes of South Carolina
introduced a bill with substantially the



from the Social Security Board, but in a
number of others the situation is bad.
Scandals are brewing in at least five
states where there is reason to suspect
gioss and flagrant misuse of the public
assistance and unemployment compensa-
tion programs by state officials for per-
sonal and political reasons. The lid
probably will be blown off by Senator
Sheppard's committee to investigate cam-
paign expenditures, which is quietly gath-
ering the facts.

Because of the fact that the board
has one of the cleanest records of any
federal agency with respect to personnel,
groups interested in the extension of the
merit system undoubtedly will rally to
support this amendment. It is felt that
the stake of the federal government in
this program, amounting annually as it
does to over $200 million for public
assistance and involving the expenditure
of around a billion dollars for unemploy-
ment compensation, is too great to allow
any state administration to use it as a po-
litical football. There is a growing real-
ization that an effective job can be done
only by qualified people. Having required
that federal personnel be selected by the
merit system, congressmen can scarcely
justify the expenditure of federal funds
by the states without regard to the com-
petence of the persons handling them.

In estimating the possibility of such
an amendment being enacted, two sig-
nificant facts should be borne in mind.
First, most governors want to become
senators. Second, most senators want to
remain senators. A number of senators
are beginning to realize that unless they
can prevent the political misuse of fed-
eral grants-in-aid by state administra-
tions they will create a Frankenstein
that will destroy them.

In the light of these circumstances,
it is not difficult to understand why
Senator McKellar of Tennessee intro-
duced a bill at the last session to require
that state funds must be administered
in accordance with a merit system. He
had good reason to want it made clear
to the people of his state that these
federal-state programs were not subject
to political domination by his ex-friend
and bitter enemy, Governor Browning.



same provisions.

When idealism and practical politics
are united, they form a powerful com-
bination.

If It Works

ANOTHER shot at the perennial paradox
of privation in the midst of plenty is
shaping up in Secretary Wallace's pro-
posal to use government funds to finance
a production-for-use program to clothe
the ill-clothed "one third" with some of
the seven million bales of cotton that
the government has on hand. As a pro-
posal to clothe the poor this probably
wouldn't get to first base, but when
this humanitarian motive is combined
with the political necessity of doing some-
thing for cotton planters it becomes a
matter worth watching. If it works with
cotton, it will be extended to other farm
surpluses.

Amendment Parade

DURING the last session it was generally
understood that the President was unwill-
ing to open up the social security act to
any amendments whatsoever, not even
non-controversial technical changes. The
situation will be different in 1939. Cer-
tain changes are imperative and for obvi-
ous reasons Mr. Roosevelt will want
them out of the way before 1940, an
election year. Groups of every descrip-
tion, from Indians to social workers, will
raise their voices in clamorous cries to
Congress for special consideration. Seri-
ous discussion is centering around some
of the following proposals.

INDIANS: An amendment authorizing
federal grants to states to pay all the
cost of public assistance to Indians was
introduced during the last session by
thirty-two senators led by Senator Hay-
den of Arizona. They will be on the
warpath again next year.
TRANSIENTS: Scarcely less anguished will
be the cries from California, Arizona,



Florida, and other states having heavy
non-resident burdens, for federal aid
for non-residents.

EQUALIZATION: From the South, "the
nation's number one economic problem"
will come cries of righteous indignation
over the fact that under the present fifty
fifty distribution of federal public as-
sistance, the wealthy states get' a lot of
federal money and the poor states get
very little. New York State, for exam-
ple, gets $11.84 a month per aged recipi-
ent, Mississippi, $2.48. Serious considera-
tion will be given to a formula which
would increase the federal contribution
to the poorest states.

AID TO DEPENDENT CHILDREN: A feeble

wail from dependent children, who, of
course, do not vote, and a good roar in
their behalf by militant pressure groups
will compel serious attention. It seems
probable that the federal contribution
for aid to dependent children will be
raised from one third to one half with
a possibility that the $18 and $12 max-
imum provisions will be eliminated.
DIRECT RELIEF: Efforts to obtain federal
grants to the states for direct relief will
come from strange bedfellows; liberals
who wish a more comprehensive pro-
gram, and conservatives who see it as a
possible way of smashing WPA in favor
of "cheap relief."

HEALTH INSURANCE: The general feel-
ing is that the question is not whether
there will be health insurance, but what
kind. Certainly some sort of program
for more adequate health protection
seems inevitable.

OLD AGE INSURANCE: Payment of old
age benefits on July 1, 1939 or on Jan-
uary 1, 1940, is considered economically
sound and, with an election coming in
1940, politically expedient. Coverage for
survivors is being carefully studied.

FARM AND DOMESTIC WORKERS: Extension

of both old age insurance and unemploy-
ment compensation to farm and domestic
workers will be demanded by labor
groups. The general feeling among ex-
perts in Washington is that the technical
and administrative difficulties which
caused the exclusion of these groups
when the social security act was passed
are not insurmountable and that these
people can be protected, probably through
a stamp system such as is generally used
in Europe. Although few people realize
it, extension of coverage is necessary to
protect the reserve fund, as there are at
present loopholes in the act which would
permit almost everyone in the country
(Continued on page 362)



NOVEMBER 1938



349



The Common Welfare



The Wheels Turn



45,000 inquiries from employers to the admin-
istrator, a steady flow of definitions and rulings from
the Washington office to business and industry, the wage
and hour division of the U.S. Department of Labor on Oc-
tober 24 swung into the task of administering the new
fair labor standards act. [See page 355.] It is estimated
that the minimum wage provision of 25 cents an hour
directly affects only about 750,000 of the nation's eleven
million wage earners, most of them in southern garment,
textile, lumber and fertilizer industries. A larger number
some 1,500,000, according to official estimates come under
the hours provision, fixing a 44-hour maximum work week
in covered industries.

From various sections during the first week the law was
in force, came reports of workers made jobless by dis-
charges and shutdowns in substandard industries, where
compliance with the law was held "ruinous" by employers.
Among such enterprises were the Texas pecan shelling in-
dustry, with some 5000 employes, several southern saw-
mills and a number of tobacco stemming plants. Hearings
in a recent strike of pecan shellers showed prevailing wages
of 6 and 7 cents an hour.

After widely published threats of large scale layoffs, both
Western Union and Postal Telegraph delayed drastic
action pending a ruling from Washington on their appli-
cations to have messengers excepted from the minimum
wage. Other business groups which have requested similar
exemptions are: U.S. Sugar Beet Association, American
Bankers Association, American Newspaper Publishers As-
sociation, National Paper Box Manufacturers Association.
A request for exemption of stockyards employes was denied.
Western Union has signed an agreement with its employes'
association guaranteeing compliance with the hours pro-
vision of the act, without wage reductions.

Elmer F. Andrews, administrator of the wage-hour law,
states, "Employers generally have indicated their desire to
comply with the law."

Governor vs. Board

WHEN, on October 1, the Social Security Board shut
off Ohio's old age assistance funds "for cause,"
Governor Martin L. Davey refused to permit the state
division of aid to the aged to comply with the board's
suggestions, declaring that the board itself was "playing
politics." At this writing, three weeks later, the Cleveland
Plain Dealer reports indications of "the governor's capitu-
lation in behalf of the pensioners." Pressure has been
brought to bear by spokesmen for Ohio's 112,000 recipients
of old age assistance and by legislative and civic groups to
force "a showing that . . . there is no longer a failure
to comply substantially with the provisions of the social
security act," without which no further funds for old age
assistance will be available to the state. The findings on
which the board based its decision were announced Sep-
tember 30, following hearings in which Ohio officials re-
fused to participate. [See Survey Midmonthly, October
1938, page 315]. According to these findings, Ohio's ad-
ministration of old age assistance has been marked by in-



efficiency, delay, violation of personnel provisions of the
state plan, political manipulation, defective accounting and
reporting, inadequate provision for handling grievances
and complaints. In making its findings public, the board
pointed out that since it is the practice in Ohio to send
out the monthly pension checks after the middle of each
month, "there is ample time ... for the chief of the Ohio
division of aid to the aged to make the necessary improve-
ments in administration ... as required by both the social
security act and the Ohio law."

Governor Davey's stand has delayed these administrative
changes, and the outcome, as regards the next pension
checks, is in doubt. Meanwhile, State Auditor Joseph T.
Ferguson, according to the Plain Dealer, is threatening "to
hold up the governor's salary and refuse to pay bills for
maintenance of the executive mansion 'until the pensioners
get their money.' "

Liquor and Reason

A PARADOX of human life is that, although its ad-
vances all have been achieved through knowledge,
it continues attempting to beat off menaces with senti-
mentality. Though the liquor problem is as old and seem-
ingly as inscrutable as the sphinx rarely if ever has it been
explored with the cold light of reason. Such a light is now
to be cast by the American Association for the Advance-
ment of Science which has formed a Research Council on
the Problems of Alcohol to study the problems relating to
liquor and its control, and to formulate the results in a
program of public education. Having seen the failure of
both prohibition and repeal in the mounting incidence of
alcoholism and highway accidents due to liquor, the associ-
ation has noted a lack of a "well-organized body of facts"
on which to base action. Composed of a hundred scientists
and educators the new council will seek factual knowledge
concerning the effects of alcohol on the individual and
society as well as the effectiveness of tried and proposed
legal and industrial measures of control.

In its work the council promises to be completely un-
biased but not spineless. In other words, it "will not arrive
at conclusions based on assumptions or prejudiced opinions,"
and it will publish its findings for purposes of public edu-
cation whether they are "favorable or unfavorable to the
use of alcoholic beverages." Point of departure in the
whole program is the conscious emphasis on education
rather than propaganda education being strictly scien-
tific as opposed to moralization.

Housers Multiply

SIX years ago a housing official in the U.S.A. was like
the proverbial needle in a haystack hard to find.
Last month nearly five hundred men and women attended
the sixth annual conference in Washington of the National
Association of Housing Officials city, state and federal.
The discussions, shared by many non-official persons whose
professional interests accounted for their presence, reflected
absorption with going programs and the removal of public
housing from the plane of pure theory. Clearly evident
was the realization that the honeymoon day's of housing



350



SURVEY MIDMONTHLY



arc over and a frank facing of the fact that past mistakes
be they ever so forgivable must not be repeated. Reports
from federal agencies, twenty local housing authorities. :iml
public officials in the welfare, health and civil service groups
indicated remarkable progress in the programs of subsidized
as well as unsubsidized housing, and a growing appreci-
ation of the close relationship of housing to other social
and economic problems.

A veritable eight-ring circus of answers relating to vari-
ous aspects of the problem was offered by as many simul-
taneous round tables: What can be learned from studying
and analyzing past local authority experience as to organi-
zation and procedure, practices and policies; as to public
relations and publicity for housing agencies, housing stand-
ards and costs, financing methods, quasi-public agencies,
neighborhood rehabilitation, demolition, housing manage-
ment, housing surveys? Lively discussions and healthy dis-
agreements showed that although certain principles have
crystallized, continuing research is essential. In the man-
agement field there seemed to be remarkable similarity of
experience and general agreement that public housing pro-
grams must fit local situations, that cheap ways must be
found for going ahead to provide adequate homes. Oppo-
sition to public housing, now comparatively dormant, will
remain so only so long as the program meets suitably a
need otherwise not met.

The APHA Speaks Up

POWERFUL support has been given the program of
the National Health Conference [see The Unserved
Millions by Helen Hall and Paul Kellogg, Survey Graphic,
September 1938] by the action of the American Public
Health Association at its meeting in Kansas City, Mo.,
last month. The association expressed by resolution its
"unanimous satisfaction in the further evidence of the
effective interest of the federal government in the health
of the nation," and endorsed:

. . . the recommendations of the technical committee of the
National Health Conference providing for federal aid to the
states for the construction of additional hospital facilities, the
provision of essential medical and nursing care, and hospital
care as required, to persons unable to support such care from
their own resources, and the compensation against wage loss
incurred through sickness.

With the single cautious reservation that, "In the initia-
tion and development of the program, wide latitude should
be given to the state in the definition of the population to
be served and the method of providing medical service,"
the association pledged itself "to use all its professional re-
sources and such influence as it has earned through sixty-
eight years of development and leadership in public health
to aid governmental agencies in accomplishing these states-
manlike objectives." It offered its cooperation to such
agencies, expressed its readiness to "collaborate with other
professional and scientific organizations having similar prin-
ciples and objectives," and authorized the appointment of
a committee for cooperation "to the end that these prin-
ciples may be translated into effective action."

Leaders of the APHA were generally sanguine that
differences with the American Medical Association over
the health program are in a fair way to being reconciled,
particularly if the installation of proposed services proceeds
I "gradually and experimentally." Small sympathy was ex-
pressed for fears of "bureaucratic, costly and political"
administration, and of "pills-and-bottle" standards of di-



agnosis and treatment. Said the president-elect of the
APHA, Dr. Edward S. Godfrey, commissioner of health
of New York State:

Standards in the last analysis are in no more danger under
government organization than under private organization. It
is again a question of leadership and administration. It may be
good or bad, whether it is government or private.

The Court Denies

TAST month the United States Supreme Court tied an-
-L other knot in the tangled skein of the Mooney case.
The court denied a writ of certiorari, thus barring a review,
of the case by the highest court. Tom Mooney, a Pacific
Coast labor agitator, was sentenced to death for the mur-
der of a victim of the Preparedness Day bombing in San
Francisco. Much of the testimony on which the prosecution



Online LibrarySurvey AssociatesSurvey midmonthly : journal of social work (Volume 74) → online text (page 94 of 109)