« AnteriorContinuar »
member to be designated by the county board from their own number, and the county superintendent of schools, shall constitute a child welfare board for the county, which shall select its own chairman; provided that in any county containing a city of the first class five members shall be appointed by the state board of control. The child welfare board shall perform such duties as may be required of it by the said board of control in furtherance of the purpose of this act, and may appoint a secretary and all necessary assistants, who shall receive from the county such salaries as may be fixed by the child welfare board with the approval of the county board. Persons thus appointed shall be the executive agents of the child welfare board.
The original bill proposed to the legislature of 1917 required the state board of control to appoint in each county a child welfare board. This sweeping provision was opposed by certain reactionary elements of the legislature as an unwarranted interference in local matters. However, the compromise that "the state board of control may, when requested so to do by the county board," appoint in each county a child welfare board, has since been regarded as in all probability the wiser plan. Law enforcement and good standards depend upon the existence of a substantial public opinion. Unless there is in the county public opinion strong enough to move a county board to request the appointment of a county child welfare board, the law will be of little effect.
The law became effective January 1, 1918, and from thirty-nine boards appointed in that year the movement progressed until we now have seventyseven boards in the eighty-seven counties of Minnesota.
The county child welfare board was designed by the Children's Code Commission to provide: (a) For the decentralization of the administrative forces of the state; and (b) To secure interpretation, adaptation, and law enforcement in the county by local representatives and agents having a knowledge of the communities' experiences and ideals. The importance of the personnel and the method of its selection was recognized. The county is permitted to have a voice in the selection of the board in that a member of the county board of commissioners, selected by the board itself, and the county superintendent of schools are ex-officio members of the child welfare board. The other three or five members, of which two at least shall be women, are chosen by the state board of control. This combination of elective and appointive members has worked well in practice and appears to be accepted as good policy. For, while the members are residents of the county and two are chosen locally, the state board of control names the majority of the board and thus is enabled to select the best qualified persons who are sympathetic toward the policies and standards of the child welfare program.
The organization of county child welfare boards has been encouraged by the board of control through the six field representatives of the children's bureau. Each representative is assigned approximately fourteen counties which she visits several times in each year. In counties where there are no boards, when she is called at times for purposes of investigation and court action in matters relating to child welfare, she has an opportunity to meet with public officials and leading citizens and point out to them the value of a child welfare board in
such cases. Success is achieved in the proportion in which socially minded persons are found as leaders in official and community life.
A program of publicity is needed to bring the work to the attention of men's and women's clubs, church, school, and community organizations, and to secure their indorsement and support; reports, general articles, and editorials should be published in the local press. Obstructionists are found at times in certain county commissioners, judges, or county attorneys, who fear that such boards will interfere with their prestige and prerogatives, or whose egotism seeks to express itself in a desire to name the appointive members of the board. When a county has requested the appointment of a child welfare board, it is the delicate task of the representative of the children's bureau to visit the county and interview persons of judgment and discretion who may serve as members. The boards are almost equally divided as to sex, as the county-commissioner member thus far has always been a man.
Largely, the members of these boards are nobly striving to carry out the duties required of them by law, handicapped as the most of them are by the pressure of their private vocations and by general lack of training. In some instances, due to the want of personality, the ex-officio members are not as cooperative as the appointive members of the board; considering that politics at times produces strange results, it is not to be wondered at if occasionally a county superintendent of schools feels that the work of the child welfare board was improperly imposed on his office without added compensation, or that the county commissioner may feel that his special mission as a member of the board is to guard the treasury of the county. However, we may say that some of the very best members of our boards come from the ex-officio members.
The Minnesota plan of county organization centers around the child welfare board. Though executive powers are conferred on the individual members of the board, the board is intended primarily to act as an administrative and supervisory board for executive agents. While there may be some difficulty in securing the appointment of a child welfare board, the second step, that of securing an appropriation by the county commissioners of public funds for the support of necessary paid workers, is still more difficult. Minnesota now has twenty counties that have paid executives, of which several were initiated by the American Red Cross. Ten of these are now paid for full time services by the county, two by the Red Cross, one by the county and Red Cross, and several are paid by the county for part time only. The number of counties now employing paid executives for their child welfare boards is the high-water mark, although we have been passing through a period of depression and retrenchment in the expenditure of public funds following the impetus given human values by the Red Cross and other organizations as a result of the war. Also, several counties are now favorably considering small budgets for the expenses of the county child welfare boards and, here and there, inquiries are made for part-time workers.
In this connection it is important to emphasize that the development of the county program is done by education and more education. The amount of work that should be done, the need for a good trained worker, the abolition of the antiquated idea that any goodhearted person who is not qualified to do anything in particular may do social work, the recognition that an appropriate salary is needed to retain persons qualified by inheritance, education, training, and experience to work successfully in one of the most difficult fields of life, are facts that must be borne home and pressed down in the mind of Mr. Average Citizen. As noted before in this paper, such education can and must be carried on by timely and well-arranged presentations of the work to all of the various groups of educational, civic, and social organizations of a community or district, and by following up the matter by full reports and articles in the press. Stereotyped matter is of little value. Advantage must be taken of the "moment of interest" created by some gathering in which people are interested. In one county a program was followed throughout three years of presenting the work of the Minnesota child welfare program to the Federated Women's Clubs, Women's Christian Temperance Union meetings, parentteacher associations, teachers' institutes, school officials, and Red Cross annual gatherings in all of their local and county meetings. Such meetings are usually made up of the leaders of the community interested in humanity. For this reason the annual gathering of the school officers of one hundred school districts of the county afforded one of the most favorable opportunities to outline the program, as both men and women chosen by each community as representatives to promote educational interest must have human welfare at heart.
Through the field representatives of the children's bureau, the board of control maintains contact and exercises supervision over county child welfare boards. After the child welfare board is appointed the representative arranges to meet with the board in order to give suggestions as to details of organizations, record-keeping, and manner of carrying on the work. Forms for investigations and reports are distributed and explained. A few elementary principles of case work and the necessity for secrecy as to records are stressed. The responsibility of the child welfare board as a part of the state program is emphasized. The objective of the field representative is to establish in each county a well-organized board holding regular monthly meetings and keeping permanent records in a business-like manner. An endeavor is made to have the board do business as a board, and not as individuals, although a single member or committee may be assigned to perform certain tasks. Where a trained executive agent is employed, the work of the field representative is lightened and simplified. Case work is developed in a measure by the continued followup by the field representative on the cases of the county. This is accomplished by her personal contact with the board in her monthly visits and also by correspondence from the state office. The correspondence of the office relates to requests sent out from the children's bureau, usually accompanied by forms and sug
gestions, asking for investigation of the case of an unmarried mother, the placement of a child in a home, or a report on a boarding home or an alleged maternity hospital. If the return by the child welfare board is imperfect, the matter is again sent out with instructions for additional information. While these methods are probably not to be commended for their efficiency, yet under the circumstances they do tend to harmonize the policies and preserve the standards of the state board of control in the various counties. Also, socially minded and thoughtful members of the boards gradually acquire knowledge as to elementary principles in case work.
The state has recognized the need of education of the officials charged with the enforcement of law for the protection of children by providing that the board of control may at such times as it deems advisable call an annual conference of such officials. Also, the law provides that the expense of the probate judges and of one member of each child welfare board attending these conferences shall be paid by their respective counties. Therefore the board of control has arranged that at each annual session of the state conference of social work special provisions are made for the discussion by county groups of methods and policies. In addition to the state conference, in 1921 a series of regional conferences was organized wherein groups of three to seven counties met at convenient centers for discussion of policies and exchange of experiences. Sixteen such conferences practically covered all the counties of the state, and in 1924 a second series was begun wherein ten such conferences have been held. These conferences have proved to be of much value and have aided greatly in molding public opinion and developing standards of social work in the child welfare boards.
The stability and efficiency of the county work depends also on the extension of the work to persons outside of the child welfare board itself. There should be an effort to secure voluntary workers to whom the executive agent of the child welfare board can turn, who can act as the big brother or big sister to some maladjusted child. Men's clubs, as the Kiwanis, Lion, and Rotary, women's clubs, fraternal organizations, and committees from social groups or classes of churches and Sunday schools, school teachers, should be enlisted in the general program. Only wisely directed action develops strength and power, and the field of the voluntary worker should be cultivated if we would develop our county resources.
THE RELATION OF PROBATION TO OTHER COUNTY
Mrs. Katherine Gibson, State Supervisor of Juvenile Courts, Little Rock
The program maker was generous in her instructions to me when she stated that I was expected to stretch my subject sufficiently to make it cover the particular field of work which I represent. Being a woman, this latitude pleases me, and later I shall use it.
2 subject were the relation of the juve
juvenile court workers are permitted gewing human situations with which they aoine we shall come to the place where detenwill be forced into the background, and ang of the seemingly doomed little child cay "uvenile court. Surely this was the ulti----- » de aagerd legislative attacks in behalf of our ring, then, that this was their hope,
hey have reason to be deeply disappointed des of the judiciary of our several states ʼn the statutes.
2009 OMNAVES Upon our rapid progression from the hang our wayward children. Much of this pride generations, looking back upon us, will not sounding in stupidity, because of the hunat we annually permit to become court and attitude suggests neither pessimism nor totam certain that each one of us looks forCar wat ewer of our children shall come under the its adjuncts, except in a preventive and pro
ea and of probation to other county social work is and quite another thing in the rural one. And 10 excubles Mark Twain's weather, in that a great Nothing done about it, I think I shall confine my tural problems.
workers can give only half their time to their sex or it to “getting along" with other social workers. section officer frequently furnishes an exception to vacats the only organized social work in the entire
6.5's the case there are certain contacts which must Max 1 any measure of success is to be attained.
y due to consider cases, which lead us directly into the whole eventive problem of juvenile neglect, dependency, As thought in mind, I think we may safely say that hip which the county juvenile court should seek is of the public school system. The prime purpose of e not for aid in carrying out probation methods, but ace children over whom a cloud of social disaster seems
e decided advantage over the home in locating the handiVagy tones the eyes of the home are blinded by an amazing