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COUNTY PROGRAMS OF CHILD CARE
At the Baltimore National Conference of Social Work in 1915 Mr. C. C. Carstens presented a report under the title of "A Community Plan in Children's Work.” Today, ten years later, this epoch-making report stands as our best guide when considering questions dealt with therein. Mr. Carstens set forth certain principles as fundamental. While these cannot here be quoted, they should be studied in detail by all interested in the subject under consideration.
The report clearly sets forth that a community should provide for destitute, neglected, delinquent, and defective children, should be provided with a staff of social investigators, and a juvenile court with probation service. It further recommends the creation of a state board of children's guardians to supervise or administer aid to mothers; to receive as wards of the state needy children requiring care outside their homes; to board such children or place them in free foster homes, or to provide institutional care according to their needs; to become guardian of all illegitimate children, securing for them support and protection; to license and inspect maternity homes and hospitals, and, when necessary, to maintain a receiving home, or homes, for the temporary care of its wards.
With the state as the unit of administration, it was suggested that local administrative agents should be stationed in various smaller geographical areas, the county, on the whole, being the most practicable unit; that county boards of public welfare be appointed to perform the various duties of a social nature connected with programs of public health, of education, relief to the poor, of child protection, probation, and recreation, and further, that the county board should act within the county as the agent of the state board of children's guardians. The case work function reserved exclusively to the state was the placing of children who had been committed to the guardianship of the state.
Since this memorable paper was written, several states have put into practice the suggestions therein contained, with modifications to meet local situations, traditions, and institutions. Possibly the most significant of these are found in states which have established programs entirely under public control, although there are significant developments in which private agencies have had a part. I desire to consider a few outstanding features of the child caring programs in North Carolina, Minnesota, and Dutchess County, New York, because they present three types of state and county relationship in public child caring administration. By a curious coincidence all three laws were passed in 1917.
Of these, Minnesota follows most closely the form suggested by Mr. Carstens. The State Board of Control, through a Children's Bureau which it has
created, is practically a state board of children's guardians. It may receive as wards of the state children committed to its care by the courts, and is the guardian of all children in state institutions. It is responsible for the welfare of illegitimate children; must promote the enforcement of laws protecting dependent, neglected, and delinquent children; must look after the interests of the blind, deaf, and feebleminded; license and inspect boarding homes and supervise child placing and child helping agencies, visiting each home into which a child has been placed, and ascertain the condition and antecedents of the child and suitability of the home before legal adoption is granted by a court. The state board of control, through the state school, but not as yet through its children's bureau, places children for adoption. Mothers' aid is administered by the county juvenile courts, but the state board of control is charged to promote efficiency and uniformity of administration, and to advise and cooperate with the courts in relation to state aid. In general harmony with Mr. Carsten's plan, Minnesota has provided for county boards of child welfare consisting of five members (seven in the largest counties), three appointed by the board of control together with the county superintendent of schools and a member of the board of county commissioners, both elected officials. The county welfare board performs such duties as are required by the state board of control, whose agent it is. It may employ an executive secretary when funds are appropriated therefor by the board of county commissioners. The county welfare board may, upon request, assist the juvenile court in the administration of mothers' aid, and the board of county commissioners, or the supervisors of the various towns, in the administration of outdoor relief.
Minnesota presents an outstanding illustration of state responsibility for child care administered largely through county units. It is also trying out the use of volunteer members of county boards in the case work field on a large scale. It is securing desirable protection for illegitimate children to a degree nowhere else approached. It has practically wiped out baby farms and uncontrolled maternity homes. However, there is divided responsibility as between the county board of child welfare and the state board of control which it represents, the county juvenile court which grants the mothers' allowances, and the county commissioners, and in half the counties, the town supervisors, who support poor persons. There has been a lack of provision by state, county, or town for the support of children who can neither be helped through a mothers' allowance nor by commitment to a state institution. The state provides institutional support only for defective and delinquent children, and in the state school for those pending placement in family homes. Children who cannot easily be placed for adoption or who should not be permanently separated from their homes are unprovided for. The state board of control has so far failed to secure state appropriation for the non-institutional support of its wards, and counties and towns, although authorized to support poor persons, seldom support children except through mothers' allowances. In Minnesota the state carries adminis
trative and case work responsibility while the county is meeting the expense of local administration and the non-institutional support of needy children in so far as they are publicly supported.
In North Carolina the system is radically different. The State Board of Charities and Public Welfare does not assume the guardianship of children. The state board is empowered to investigate and supervise, to study the problems and promote the welfare of children, to inspect and license private institutions and agencies, to inform the public as to social conditions and remedies for social ills, to recommend legislation, and to encourage counties to employ county superintendents of public welfare. Recently the state board has assumed its only direct case work responsibility. In supervising the expenditure of the state funds, which pay half the allowances to mothers granted by board of county commissioners, the state board of welfare is reviewing mothers' allowances, case by case.
North Carolina has created county boards of public welfare consisting of three persons appointed by the state board. These county boards act as agents of the state board, performing such duties as are imposed upon them by the state board, which, as we have seen, are purely of an advisory and supervisory nature. Responsibility for the care of individual children is left with the county. The North Carolina program is unique in approaching the child caring program largely from the standpoint of school attendance. Every county has a county superintendent of public welfare, who, in the smaller counties, may be the superintendent of schools, and in other counties is appointed jointly by the county board of education and the board of county commissioners. This superintendent, and not the county welfare board, is responsible for the care and protection of children.
The distinctive methods of the two states should be kept clearly in mind. In Minnesota the state board of control, through the children's bureau, is responsible for case work throughout the state, and the county social case worker, where one is employed, is responsible to the state, although paid by the county, and the state assumes guardianship of children. In North Carolina case work is a county function and the case worker is paid by, and is responsible to, the county.
The superintendent of welfare in North Carolina is primarily chief attendance officer, but is also chief probation officer in the juvenile court, and carries many other duties and responsibilities relating to public welfare within the county. In North Carolina, as in Minnesota, there is difficulty in securing funds for the support of children other than those reached by a mothers' allowance, or who are in state institutions, although the county is responsible for such support. In both states the law permits public officials to support children as poor persons, and in North Carolina the county board of education may also contribute to support when school attendance is involved. In both states officials have been slow to recognize their responsibility to pay for the support of chil
dren, and private child caring institutions have largely been relied upon to support them.
North Carolina presents an alluring program. With county boards of education and health, and county juvenile courts, and with a closer coordination of their functions than most states have developed, it was natural to introduce a county welfare agency to perform duties relating to schools, juvenile courts, and public charitable relief. The system presents comparatively few pitfalls, but appears logical, and with an adequate staff capable of operation with a minimum loss of motion. Responsibility is definitely placed as between the state and the county.
In contrast to both systems may be cited that of Dutchess County, New York. The County Board of Child Welfare is the exclusive administrative agency for the public care and protection of county children. Its duty is to provide suitably for destitute, neglected, and defective children, and for such delinquent children as may be committed to it by the children's court. To it has been transferred all the powers and duties of the local officials as they relate to the care and support of children. This board consists of six citizens appointed by the county judge, who is also the children's court judge, together with the county superintendent of the poor, and representatives of the county board of supervisors. Its service to needy children is limited only by the size of the appropriation it can secure from the county board of supervisors.
Inspection, licensing of agencies, and such functions remain with the state board of charities. Probation is left to the court, school attendance to the educational authorities. The Dutchess County law, therefore, is much narrower in its application than either the Minnesota or the North Carolina measures, but it does state clearly that the county board shall administer allowances to mothers; accept destitute children as its own wards; investigate complaints as to neglect of children, instituting proceedings in the juvenile court when necessary; secure care for defective children, and obtain medical care in their own homes or elsewhere for poor children. Its advantage is that a socialized public administrative agency, determining the needs of children by the case work method, administers the public funds available for their support or relief.
All too briefly have I outlined three types of administrative machinery for public child care. In building our state and county programs, have we not failed to take into account with sufficient definiteness what public money will be necessary to carry our case work treatment into effect, what bodies should make the appropriations, the relative responsibility of the appropriating and the administrative bodies, and the relation of the two? As I have studied these states, certain opinions have tended to crystallize, which I venture to present for criticism and discussion, although there is left little time to develop them.
First, except as courts commit to state institutions, the state or county, whichever is to determine the need for support for children, should pay for such support, and should also pay the salaries and expenses of the social service. A divided responsibility at no point shows more acutely than when expenditure
of public money is involved, and as a rule the appropriating and the administrative unit should be one and the same.
Second, the county generally is the most practicable unit for case work. responsibility. It is improbable that state legislature ever will make sufficiently large appropriations to provide an adequate number of social investigators to undertake case work in each county of the state. It is impracticable to expect volunteer county board members, acting as state agents, to investigate intricate social problems calling for the highest degree of case work skill, and it is illogical for the county to pay the salary of a state agent.
Third, as the state is too large a case work unit, the township is too small a one. Neither state nor township juvenile courts have ever been seriously urged. Juvenile courts, with their probation service, and the administrative child caring agencies, when serving the same territory have common interests and can work together more effectively.
Fourth, unless the state supports children requiring temporary provision away from their family homes, the support of children, pending free home placement either in a state school or elsewhere, should be left to the county, although a state-wide agency for actual placements is desirable. Permanent separation of children from their families is likely to be determined too readily by courts and local administrators without this added inducement of state care as against the cost of local support.
Fifth, while urging the county as the case work unit, I would emphasize the importance of a state board having some degree of control over the county administering board, body, or agent. Through a system of supervision, and with power to enforce rules and regulations, it should be placed in position to insure acceptable and uniform methods and desirable standards in the programs for child care in all the counties of the state.
DEVELOPING THE LOCAL PROGRAM
Charles F. Hall, Director, Children's Bureau, State Board of
In Minnesota the responsibility of the state for promoting child welfare is placed on the State Board of Control. This board of three members has the exclusive management of the state's charitable and correctional institutions, including those caring for dependent, delinquent, and defective children. Not only is the board authorized by law to license and supervise all agencies working with children, but it may organize in each county a child welfare board to perform duties required of it by the state board of control. Section 4, chapter 194, Laws 1917, provides:
The state board of control may, when requested so to do by the county board, appoint in each county three persons resident therein, at least two of whom shall be women, who shall serve without compensation and hold office during the pleasure of the board, and who, together with a