In your citation from the Mayor’s Committee on Unemployment Relief the statement occurs – “The one million men and women who are unemployed today in New York City as a result of the depression cannot be regarded as maladjusted individuals in need of case work.” This is another version of the old “worthy” and “unworthy” concept, which holds that ordinary poor are to be regarded as just maladjusted people who may be subjected to an unpleasant discipline called case work; but the new or worthy poor, or the poor “through no fault of their own” must be protected against this case work.

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Part of essential manpower is essential mother power. It is true that women are needed in war production, and they must go into it in great numbers, and we cannot let down for an instant. But it is also true that the production and raising of healthy children is a priority in war as in peace. It is hard to get the various programs into effective balance. We launch drives to get women, including mothers, to work in war plants, and then we launch drives to control delinquency — and all the while we know that the one strongest factor in the prevention of delinquency is the stable home. There is no doubt of the values of supervised recreation of wholesome sorts, vocational guidance, and other activities for young people, but we who are closest to families know that without strong family life you have a chronic deficiency which is difficult to overcome. It is better for children to have good parents than any vitamins we know of today. Insofar as we cannot have this, there are effective substitutes, but we need to conserve our mother power very, very carefully.

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Family Service During War Time

On February 8, 2015 By

Many mothers have come to us in conflict as to whether or not to go to work. The motives may be patriotic, or desire for a more adequate income, or deeper personal urges for greater independence and release from home care. Since the absence of the mother from the home often creates serious problems of childcare, the decision is particularly crucial. We believe firmly that a mother’s care of her children is in itself an “essential industry”, but, if we are to be realistic, we know that it will not for every woman take priority over other “essential industries”. Our efforts have been to engage in a sort of “screening process”, to try to determine as promptly and soundly as possible the best solution for all concerned, to help the woman who should not work accept her homemaking role as a dignified and contributing one, and to help the mother who should work maintain all possible security for herself and her children.

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Why have a private casework agency when there is a tax-supported public agency?

Perhaps this question can best be answered philosophically. One either does or does not believe in public and private enterprise in business, in industry, in medicine, education etc, and in social work. Those who believe in relinquishing all responsibility to the State, retreating into large-scale programs, and who question the value of personal ideals or effort and the value of the individual himself, will see little use for private social work. Those who still have faith in the democratic process, in the individual, in the family, in mutual aid, in cooperative social enterprises towards a higher standard of living and greater, not less, human dignity, will have a renewal, rather than a denial of faith in private endeavor. A combination of public and voluntary activities in all fields seems to us desirable.

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Last year the Family Service had 19,373 children in the families under its care. Who are these children? They are the children of the unemployed, the widow, the widower, the father in prison, the mother who has deserted, the parent who is mentally or physically ill, the parents who are estranged, or the otherwise happy parents who are socially or economically handicapped.

Some of these children are loved and wanted, some are unloved and unwanted. Some are “good” and some are “bad”. Some are well and some are sick. But they are all children and upon them and their lives depends our future civilization. Are these the children of the poor? Yes, the children of the poor in spirit and in heart — of all classes, of all races, and of all creeds and colors.

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The recent period of social and economic change has affected the programs and functions of many social agencies in the community. The Institute of Family Service has constantly adjusted its program in relation to the total community situation, making such revisions of practice and procedure at various times as seemed indicated. Its relief program, which was greatly enlarged prior to the establishment of the new governmental agencies, has been somewhat reduced, but it is still maintained at a point higher than that of the pre-depression period. Its present relief program has become more clearly defined during the past few years in relation to the new relief agencies in the community as they have assumed a more definite responsibility for meeting general maintenance needs.

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The concern of the family department, which has felt the practical limitations of having no descriptive title for some time, has become more acute because of the creation of new relief agencies in the community. In reality the distinctive functions of caseworking agencies have continued through the changes in the community relief program. Two general principles that are basic in casework philosophy help in differentiating the specialized service of a caseworking agency: (1) that individuals react differently to the problem of need and dependency (2) that casework services have not been limited to persons in economic difficulty.

If a person who is dependent because of the loss of work is able to live through the experience with calm and fortitude, he may need chiefly assurance that relief will be extended to him until he again finds a place in the economic world. The service attached to relief giving, which includes a legitimate check of resources, an acceptance of the individuals right to plan his life, an approach to him that will foster independence and self-respect, is itself a technical and skilled one. But to some persons the loss of a job, the need to ask for help, the actual receiving of relief are overwhelming experiences resulting frequently in morbid brooding, in a desire to escape from life’s uncertainties and in unwarranted self-accusations. The professional worker in a caseworking agency has a recognized technical service to offer to persons whose problem of relief need is complicated by reactions of strain, worry, over-anxiety.

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While the committee agreed on the foregoing, it was observed that a characteristic of family case work, whether United Hebrew Charities, Charity Organization Society, or International Migration Service, was that the family was the unit around which the action centered; in Childrens’ or Travelers’ Aid work, on the other hand, the child or the traveler was, generally speaking, the center of work, and the environment was adjusted to the central figure, or vice versa. This is even more true, perhaps, in hospital or psychiatric case work. In this type of agency the patient would be apt to be the center of the case work adjustment, while the family case worker has generally two or more foci in his circle.

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What Price Slum Clearance?

On December 7, 2014 By

After an intensive attempt to comb city agencies for relevant information, we have come to the conclusion that the city is not facing the situation realistically. No one department has been charged with responsibility to assess the nature of the problem or the risks involved. City agencies in reviewing projects have paid little attention to the relocation problem and have approved projects on an uncoordinated piece-meal basis. Facts which are readily available were not collected by any one city department. Other data, available from the Bureau of Census for a minimum price, had never been requested. Ironically, so far as we know, no city adding machine had ever totaled the displacement figure referred to above.

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The settlement psychiatric clinic is significantly different from that in any other setting. It not only offers a more broadly based service in prevention and treatment, but it is the one place where the clinic has the opportunity to work with the total individual in his total situation – a basic treatment principle.

Also, the services are less costly. There is practical economy in energy, time and money in being able to effect such a highly coordinated on-the-spot service within the physical setup of an established agency, already known, accepted and appreciated for the constructive services it gives.

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