Committee on Economic Security
Unpublished CES Studies
|Volume III. Child Welfare
Summaries of the Final Report
SECURITY FOR CHILDREN
December 1, 1934
Summary of the Recommendations of the U. S. Children's Bureau, prepared at the request of the Committee on Economic Security, in cooperation with the Advisory Committee on Child Welfare.
GENERAL SCOPE OF THE MEASURES RECOMMENDED
Two groups of measures are proposed for incorporation in the security program, the first covering care of dependent, fatherless children, homeless and neglected children and children whose surroundings are such as to gravely impair their physical and social development; and the second dealing with the protection of the health of mothers and children. Briefly, the proposals are as follows:
(1) Strengthening and expansion of mothers' pensions, which provide home care for fatherless children, and of State and local services for the protection and care of homeless and neglected children and children in danger of becoming delinquent, through a joint program of service supported by State and local funds with the assistance of Federal grants in aid. It is estimated that approximately $25,000,000 a year from Federal funds will be required for mothers' pensions for the first two years, rising to a possible maximum of $50,000,000 as the program develops. The Federal Government is now spending much more than $25,000,000 on families that would probably be eligible for mothers' pensions. An appropriation of $1,500,000 a year is proposed for assistance to State welfare departments in promoting more adequate care and protection of children and strengthening local public services.
(2) A child and maternal health program involving Federal assistance to the States, and through the States to local communities, in the extension of maternal and child health service, especially in rural areas, including (a) education of parents and professional groups in maternal and child care, and supervision of the health of expectant mothers, infants, preschool, and school children and children leaving school for work, (b) provision for a rural maternal nursing service, (c) demonstrations of methods by which rural mothers may be given adequate maternal care, and (d) provision for transportation, hospitalization, and convalescent care of crippled children, in cities of less than 100,000 population. The program would be developed under the leadership of public health authorities in close cooperation with medical and public welfare agencies and groups, and other agencies, public and private, concerned with these problems: It is estimated. that approximately $7,000,000 a year will be required for this program, to be increased as the program develops.
Need for Action:
The census of 1930 showed 3,792,902 families with female heads, of whom 2,534,630 were widowed. In 1,055,053 of the families with female heads there were minor children under twenty one years of age and in 431,424 families, children under ten years of age. No comprehensive figures are available regarding the economic status of the families with female heads, but every evidence points to the fact that a very considerable percentage of these families are economically dependent. This is particularly true of the families with female heads in which there are young children. It is obvious that in such families unless there are sufficient accumulated resources, the family must normally be supported by either relatives or the public. Provision of employment will not solve the problem of these families, since normally the adult employees cannot earn enough to support their families, particularly if there are young children to be cared for.
It was to meet this situation that the mothers' pension laws were enacted. 45 states now have such laws, with one additional state providing for home care of dependent children on a poor relief basis. Two of the states with mothers’ pension laws are not now granting any pensions. In many of the other states with such laws, no pensions are being granted in many counties. While up to the minute information is not available on this point, it is probable that mothers' pensions are actually being granted in less than half of the counties where, under existing statutes, they should or might be granted. The Children’s Bureau estimates that approximately 109,000 families are now receiving assistance under mothers aid laws and that approximately 280,500 children are being benefited. The total expenditures for mother's pensions now amount to approximately $37,200,000 per year, of which total six million comes from the State governments and the balance from the local governments, usually counties.
30% of the mothers pension cases and 43% of the expenditures are in 9 large cities of the country. Both the percentage of the fatherless families on pensions and the amount of the grants differs enormously between different states and counties, the largest percentages and average grants being in the wealthier urban communities.
A much larger number of the fatherless families are now on emergency relief than on mother's pensions. On the basis of sample studies made by the FERA, it is estimated that 358,000 families with widowed, separated and divorced female heads having children under the age of 16 years are on the emergency relief lists and that these families have 719,000 children. The average number of children under sixteen in these families is 1.9 and in only 190 of the entire number were there any earnings from non relief work. A rough estimate indicates that approximately 120 million dollars per year is now being spent for the relief of these fatherless families, of which approximately 90 million dollars comes from the Federal government.
The situation that more than three times as many fatherless families are on relief than in receipt of mothers pensions, despite the fact that all but three states have mothers pension laws, is due primarily to these factors, (1) indifference; (2) the financial exhaustion of so many county and state governments; (3) the fact that if such families are placed on relief, the Federal government bears the major part of the expense while it does not bear any part of the cost of mother's pensions.
Details of the Recommendations Relating to Mothers Pensions.
It is generally acknowledged that families in which there is no male breadwinner, and especially families with female heads in which there are young children, should be taken care of in some other way than relief. The best method for doing so is believed to be through mother's pensions, but the state and local governments cannot, at least at this time, carry the burden of mothers pensions alone. Consequently, it is suggested that the Federal government cooperate with the States and Territories, and through them, with the local governments, in providing home care for dependent children through pensions to widowed and other mothers who are responsible for the support of their children. In detail it is proposed:
(1) Appropriations: (a) $15,000,000 for contribution to States in the ratio of one half the combined State and local expenditures for mothers pensions, to be increased as need indicates; and (b) $10,000,000 for a reserve and discretionary fund, for supplementing the amount specified under (a) and for allotment, in excess of the ratio prescribed, to States unable, because of severe economic distress, to meet that ratio.
(2) Federal administration: To be placed in the federal department of public welfare, if one is created, and in the absence of such an agency in the Children's Bureau of the U. S. Department of Labor; administration to be coordinated with other Federal welfare and relief services; not to exceed one percent of the total appropriation to be available for Federal administration and investigations and reports related thereto.
(3) State administration: To be placed in the State Department of Public Welfare, or, if some other state agency is given supervisory administrative responsibility for mothers' pensions, in that agency, pending the development of a unified state welfare program.
(4) Application for funds and plans for administration: Plans for administering the program to be submitted to the Children Bureau by the authorized state agency and approved if found to be in conformity with the purposes of the program and reasonably appropriate and adequate. The plans shall include the following: (a) statement of the amount authorized or otherwise made available by the State and each of its political subdivisions; (b) numbers of mothers and children in each political subdivision receiving mothers assistance or on the waiting lists; (c) reasonable provision for State and local administration, in accordance with standards to be worked out cooperatively by the Children's Bureau and the state cooperating agencies. After June 30, 1937, the plans must include substantial financial participation by the state in the mothers’ pension program, preferably on the equalization principle.
(5) Withholding of funds: By the Children's Bureau, on due notice, with appeal to the Secretary of Labor, whenever it shall be determined as to any state that the state has not properly expended or supervised the expenditure of the funds paid to it, in accordance with approved plans.
Payment of one third of the cost of mothers' pensions by the Federal government will probably represent a saving to the Federal government for each fatherless family taken from relief lists and placed on mothers' pensions, and a corresponding increase in the State and local expenditures. On the other hand, since the state and local governments now bear the entire cost of the 109,000 families receiving mothers' pensions, a one- third Federal subsidy would represent a decrease in State and local expenditures for these families.
Where the balance will lie between these conflicting tendencies can only be guessed at and will depend largely upon the number of fatherless families now on relief who are placed on mothers' pensions. Not all fatherless families can possibly qualify for mothers’ pensions, probably not more than half of them. In the first year or so the number of families on mothers' pensions will probably be considerably less than the ultimate maximum. It is expected that the Federal subsidy will ultimately have to be increased beyond 25 million dollars and may finally reach 50 million dollars per year. How rapidly such increase will be necessary cannot now be foretold. If all families that could be placed on mothers' pensions were transferred to mothers pensions, with only one third Federal subsidy, the cost to the Federal government would actually be less than at present, but such a result is doubtful in the immediate future. To the extent that the Federal government reduced its expenses, the State and local governments would be required to increase them, since it will doubtless not cost less to maintain the fatherless families on mothers' pensions than on relief, and probably a little more. As an offset, there will be an immense gain in the social status of these fatherless families.
FEDERAL PARTICIPATION IN STATE AND LOCAL SERVICE FOR THE PROTECTION AND CARE OF HOMELESS, DEPENDENT AND NEGLECTED CHILDREN AND CHILDREN IN DANGER OF BECOMMING DELINQUENT
Need for Action:
There are approximately 300,000 dependent and neglected children in the United States, of whom three fifths are in institutions, and the rest in foster homes and under the care of child-placing agencies, many of them only partially tax supported. In addition, many thousands of children are receiving special protection and supervision in their own homes from child welfare agencies or juvenile courts. Annually, 200,000 delinquent children come before the courts, many of them requiring probationary supervision for considerable periods. More than 75,000 illegitimate children are born each year and special medical and social care for both the mother and child must be provided in many of these cases. From 300,000 to 500,000 children are physically handicapped.
Local services for the protection and care of dependent, delinquent and physically and mentally handicapped children are generally available in cities of one hundred thousand or more inhabitants. In many of the counties with no such large cities, services of this kind are extremely limited, or non existent. One fourth of the states, only, have made provisions on a state wide basis for County Child Welfare Boards or similar agencies. Even in many of these states, moreover, the services actually developed are still very inadequate. With the depletion of resources during the depression, many children have suffered from the curtailment or elimination of child welfare services. This tendency can be checked only through Federal assistance to the State agencies responsible for children’s welfare.
Details of Proposals: It is recommended:
(1) Appropriations: $1,000,000 to be distributed automatically, $10,000 to each State and the balance among the States in the proportion which their population bears to the total population of the United States, the sums so distributed to be matched dollar for dollar by State appropriations; $500,000 for allocation to States unable, because of severe economic distress, to match in full the amounts allocated under the previous paragraph, for their use in matching such sums, and for demonstrations of methods of community child welfare service, to be conducted by the Children's Bureau with the cooperation of the State agencies of public welfare.
(2) federal administration: To be placed in the Children’s Bureau of the United States Department of Labor, administration to be coordinated with other Federal welfare services; not to exceed five percent of the total appropriation to be available for Federal administration and investigations and reports related thereto.
(3) State administration: State department of public welfare, or, if there be none or more than one such agency, the State agency designated by the legislature or provisionally designated by the Governor if the legislature be not in session.
(4) Application for funds and plans for administration: Plans for administering the program to be submitted to the Children's Bureau by the authorized State agency and approved if found to be in conformity with the purposes of the program and reasonably appropriate and adequate. The plans shall include information concerning the amounts made available by the State and if an allocation from the discretionary fund is requested, the conditions leading to such a request.
(5) Withholding of funds; By the Children's Bureau, on due notice, with appeal to the Secretary of Labor, whenever it shall be determined as to any State that the State has not properly expended or supervised the expenditure of the funds paid to it, in accordance with approved plans.
PROMOTION OF MATERNAL AND CHILD HEALTH, ESPECIALLY IN RURAL AREAS
Need for Expanded Program:
Forty per cent of all people supported in whole or in part by F.E.R.A. funds are children under 16 years of age. These 7,400,000 children alone constitute a very strong reason for an expanded maternal and child health program. The much higher maternal mortality rate which prevails in this country as compared with many other lands furnishes an additional reason for more attention to this problem. It is particularly in rural areas that there is great need for educational and service programs to improve maternal and child health conditions.
Federal activities in behalf of child and maternal health were begun with the establishment of the Children's Bureau in 1912, and from 1922 to 1929 the federal government actively cooperated with the states in the promotion of the welfare and hygiene of mothers and infants. All states but three cooperated in this program. Since the withdrawal of the federal funds, state appropriations have been considerably reduced. At this time 14 states have no special funds for maternal and child. health, or less than $3,000, and nine more states, funds of only $3,000 to $10,000.
In order to promote nation wide interest in and facilities for adequate State programs for the protection of the lives and health of mothers and children the Federal government should be enabled through the Children's Bureau to participate with states and through states with local communities in such programs. That the ability of local communities and states to finance such programs varies greatly according to their resources is common knowledge. Many states have never been able to carry an adequate program and within states many communities are without resources or have very limited resources for such work with mothers and children. To better equalize the opportunities for education and for service to mothers and children in the various states and local communities and to promote improved methods of administration and care, Federal funds should be made available to states.
The function of the Federal administrative bureau would be primarily consultative, educational and promotional, with the power of approval of plans made by state departments of health receiving federal funds for cooperative federal state programs. The consultative and promotional functions would be exercised through field staff -- medical, nursing, and other; the educational functions through demonstrations of special maternal and child health services in cooperation with state health departments and through the provision of opportunities for certain types of professional education, such as institutes, refresher courses, etc. On the administrative side the Federal government would assist states in building up well staffed divisions of maternal and child health and through such divisions improve services to mothers and children in local communities. The general program to be developed in states receiving federal aid or in local communities receiving combined state and federal aid and the standards for personnel and procedure should be in accordance with generally accepted public health practice, as determined by the Children's Bureau previous to the making of grants.
In addition the Federal government through the Children's Bureau should undertake further research and conduct investigations or demonstrations that have to do with the health or mortality of mothers and children or with improvement in methods of care that cannot be conducted by individual states or communities. As part of its program of demonstration and investigation the Children's Bureau through its various divisions would promote joint activities between groups interested in various phases of child welfare, as for instance further community demonstration in the field of delinquency and its relation to mental health, recreation, etc., studies of health of children entering employment, etc.
Details of the Plan for Federal Aid to the States in the Field of Maternal and Child Health Services.
(1) Total appropriation, $7,000,000
(a) $1,000,000 for a general program for furthering state and local maternal and child health services to be apportioned among the states as follows: $10,000 as a uniform grant to states and the balance among states in the proportion which their population bears to the total population of the United States, the sums to be matched dollar for dollar.
(b) $1,000,000 for a program of maternity nursing in counties of less than 50,000 population to be apportioned to states as follows: $10,000 as a uniform grant to states and the balance among states in the proportion which the number of births occurring within each state bears to the total number of births in the United States, the sums to be matched dollar for dollar.
(c) $2,000,000 as a discretionary fund: $1,000,000 to be allocated, after deduction of not more than 5 per cent of the total apportioned for Federal administration and investigations and reports related thereto, to states unable, because of severe economic distress, to match in full the amounts allocated under (a) and (b) for their use in matching such sums; $1,000,000 for demonstrations and special research in the development of more adequate provision for maternal care for mothers in rural areas.
(d) $3,000,000 for transportation, hospitalization, and convalescent care of crippled children living in cities of less than 100,000 population, to be allocated on the basis of need, according to plans developed by the state agencies of health and welfare and approved by the Federal administrative agency, the plans to show reasonable financial participation by state and/or local units, and adequate provisions for administration.
(2) Federal Administration.—To be placed in the Children's Bureau of the United. States Department of Labor.
(3) State Administration. State agency of health, except as otherwise specified.
(4) Application for funds and plans for administration. Application for funds and plans for administering the program to be submitted to the Children’s Bureau by the authorized state agency and to be approved by the Children's Bureau if found by the Bureau to be in conformity with the purpose of the program and in accordance with accepted standards of public health and medical practice developed by Federal bureaus and other agencies. The plans should include information concerning amounts made available by the State and if an allocation from the discretionary fund is requested, the conditions leading thereto.
(5) Withholding of funds. By the Children' s Bureau, on due notice, with appeal to the Secretary of Labor, whenever it shall be determined as to any State that the state has not properly expended or supervised the expenditure of the funds paid to it, in accordance with approved plans.
MEMBERS OF THE ADVISORY COMMTT'EE ON CHILD WELFARE APPOINTED BY THE COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC SECURITY
Dr. Fred G. Adair, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Chicago.
Isomer Folks, Secretary, State Charities Aid Association, New York City.
Dr. Clifford G. Grulee, Secretary, American Academy of Pediatrics, Chicago, Illinois.
Jane M. Hoey, Associate Director, Welfare Council of New York City.
Jacob Kepecs, President, Child Welfare League of America, Superintendent, Jewish Home finding Society of Chicago.
Rev. Bryan J. McEntegert, Director, Division of Children, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, N.Y.
J. Prentice Murphy, Executive Secretary, Children's Bureau of Philadelphia.
Dr. Grover F. Powers, Professor of Pediatrics, Yale Medical School, New Haven, Connecticut.