« AnteriorContinuar »
2. The department child welfare chairman shall initiate the appointment of a County child welfare chairman by the County Commander of the American Legion where a County organization of the American Legion exists, and the election, or selection, of a County child welfare chairman by the Post Commanders, or Post Commander where no County organization of the American Legion exists.
3. The department chairman shall receive from all County chairmen monthly statistical reports which must be transmitted by him to the Director of the National Child Welfare Division.
4. The department chairman shall call into conference at least once each year all County chairmen of the child welfare division for counsel and advice and the determination of future policies for the improvement of the service.
5. At least once each year he shall visit the billet to which the orphans of his department are assigned.
6. He shall read and study all available authoritative works on child welfare.
7. He shall, as soon as possible, on a date assigned by the department Commander, call a conference of all County chairmen in the state at a central location most accessible from all parts of the state. This conference shall continue for not more than two days. At this conference full instructions will be given to the County chairmen as to their duties and methods of procedure in every feature of the child welfare service. The necessary traveling expenses of the department child welfare chairman to the annual convention of County child welfare chairmen shall be borne by the department. The necessary traveling expenses of the County child welfare chairmen to said convention shall be borne by the respective County Legion organizations, prorated among the posts on the basis of membership.
This organization is used only where the state has already set up a regular County organization within the Legion. Where there is no such organization and the department officers desire an intermediary organization between the state child welfare committee and the Post organization, then a District child welfare chairman is appointed having charge of the judicial or congressional district, as the case may be. Most of the states of the union, called in Legion parlance "departments," do not have County organizations, but substitute therefor District organizations for organization purposes only, leaving the administration to have direct contact from the Post organization to the department child welfare chairman and his committee.
COMMUNITY OR POST ORGANIZATION: DUTIES OF COMMUNITY
1. He will thoroughly inform himself and the committee under the direction of the County child welfare chairman, as to his and its duties.
2. The Community chairman, until complete instructions have been received from the County chairman, will, when emergency cases come to his attention, seek to connect such cases with local established facilities for relief, reporting each such action to the County child welfare chairman.
3. He shall so equip himself, by reading and study of books and pamphlets as are available to him, as to qualify him to perform the duties of his office.
4. In all phases of the child welfare program, the American Legion carefully avoids duplication of the efforts of other child welfare agencies.
5. Where further aid involves the assistance of a mother with dependent children and there is a Mother's Pension Law and provision for the operation of the law, the Community chairman should have a complete knowledge of just what the provisions are under the law, how these provisions are satisfied, and should, further, be able to connect the child or family with the state aid available.
6. It will be found that in some states special legislation has been enacted to care for the widow and children of the deceased and disabled veteran, and the states having established
means for the care of such families are, of course, desirous of caring for their own. Where such provision has been made the Legion will act in a supplementary and cooperative capacity.
The relationship between the child caring and social agencies in the field should be cooperative. Mutual benefits may be derived from a happy working basis of cooperation between those agencies and the Legion.
The representatives of social agencies everywhere have offered the Legion hearty cooperation and are giving valuable assistance in investigational and other work. The Legion desires to act in conjunction with all child welfare activities in an effort to improve conditions, not only for dependent children and orphans of veterans, but for all children.
We plan to cooperate in the following manner: First, to make a close and careful study of the best means of caring for the dependent children of worldwar veterans and to publish our findings from time to time for the benefit of all dependent children and those who care for them. Second, the full force of the American Legion will be exercised in every state in the direction of up-to-date legislation, as well as mothers' pensions and public aid to children in their own homes, so that the mother may if possible be kept with her child for the benefit of both. Third, interchange of information useful to both the Legion and the cooperating agencies will be available so far as the Legion is concerned. Fourth, educational work is now going on in every state; copies of laws of states, recognized leaders in up-to-date child welfare legislation, are now in the hands of every department commander in the United States, urging that he not only study the laws himself, but that he should hand them over to the members of his committee on legislation for their information and whatever recommendation they may deem wise in their respective states. Fifth, perhaps the most beneficial service we have rendered the cause thus far is the new stimulus given to the study and care of the dependent child in states where the public interest has up to now been rather sluggish. The fact that we have turned our constructive criticism on that subject promises very favorable results.
These results are now being worked out in all the states, including the District of Columbia. In all these departments we have found the finest spirit of cooperation everywhere. In New England, New York, the Middle West, the South, and the Coast states, legionnaires vie with each other to see which state can produce the finest and most perfect system of child care in the Legion. Of course, we make mistakes, as nearly all the child welfare chairmen in the departments are new at the work, but we make surprisingly few and those, we are glad to report, have not so far been of a serious nature. Our child welfare chairmen show a large number of lawyers, doctors, ministers, bankers, one judge of a juvenile court, one college professor, one professional child welfare expert, and three women-of course, all legionnaires.
There is authority in Holy Writ that "a little child shall lead them." May it be said a hundred years hence that this organization of fighting men, returning victorious from a great war, found their greatest contribution after all in the peaceful service of the America of tomorrow, through taking care of the children of those who offered up their lives. In this way the "still small voice" of peace again may sound in service above the boisterous acclaim of war.
CHANGES IN THE INSTITUTIONAL FIELD IN
Rev. C. H. Le Blond, Vice-Chairman, Children's Bureau, Cleveland
In the life of any person or any community ten years is a long period, if we look at that period to contemplate changes that occur. In the life of an individual there is development that naturally comes from the acquisition of additional knowledge, greater experience, increased acquaintance, change of environment, new opportunities, and new demands. And in a community, in any line of activity, there must naturally be the same kind of development, because in a period of ten years demands change, resources expand, knowledge increases, standards improve. Activity in any particular field meets these developments or it falls out of the procession, becomes decrepit and worn, and dies a natural and deserved death.
In the last ten years in Cleveland, children's work in the institutional field has not died. Changes have occurred, demands have arisen and have been met more or less satisfactorily, and the struggle of growth still goes on.
If we are to enumerate changes and try to explain their cause and evaluate their worth we must be familiar with conditions as they existed at the beginning of the period. Ten years ago Cleveland had children's institutions; they were about as good, and about as bad, as institutions in other communities in our country. They were doing their work according to the standards that prevailed. Those whose energies were employed in conducting them were working hard and struggling hard to solve the problems that were presented, to care for the children that had come to them, and to build for the future. They were individual organizations, each with their own limited resources and all with their limitations. Each, on a small scale, was doing its own case work, its investigation, and its follow up, its child placing, its medical work, and dental care according to the resources that each possessed. But each was active in a small field, dealing with its own constituents, determined by locality, or religion, or race, and none was getting a larger vision of the community need than its own field presented to its view. Some had special facilities for dealing with special problems; and perhaps those special problems were going to other institutions that had not facilities to care for them. Some were overcrowded and some had extra space; some had homes available for children and some had children for placement with no homes to place them in.
It is a matter of compliment to the people working in the institutions to state that they realized their limitations and gladly took advantage of the opportunity that offered to combine their resources, to improve their work, and render better care to the children of this community. And that opportunity was presented by the formation of the Welfare Federation and the Community Fund. These organizations brought together groups, gave them an opportunity to present and study their individual problems through the presentation of com
bined problems, presented the community need, and opened the way for gradual solution of the general problems that confronted them all. And unselfishly they took up the task and have marched steadily forward on the path of progress and improvement.
One of the most important steps that was taken was in the adjustment of the work of the general agencies. The juvenile court, the Humane Society, the Children's Bureau that was developed, the Associated Charities which is the family welfare organization of the city, divided among themselves the responsibility for various phases of child care, each assuming that for which they were best fitted, and, acting in the finest spirit of cooperation, routed through each other the problems that each could handle best.
The Children's Bureau was organized as a central agency to do the investigating for all the institutions. Every application for institutional care went to this central bureau, the investigation and case work was done by the bureau, and the report with recommendations went back to the institution. The actual admission or rejection was determined by the institution itself in consultation with the bureau. If there was no admission, the bureau turned over to the proper agency the problem, so that the family received the attention needed. If an admission was made the bureau continued its contact with the family, calling in the assistance of all available resources that the community afforded in the readjustment of the home, to enable the child to return there as soon as possible.
A central medical clinic was established, so that every child for whom care was sought might receive a thorough medical examination and go to the institution with a complete report and a definite program of corrective and preventive work to be accomplished during its stay. A system of checking on progress was established with this central clinic, and aid and assistance offered in the establishment of a well-rounded program of medical care in each institution. A dental clinic was added to the central medical clinic, and a dental report, too, accompanied the child.
One of the children's institutions whose wards could be distributed through the other homes where there were unused beds went out of existence as a children's home and opened as a child guidance clinic for the intensive study of problem children, open to all the institutions of the city for their wards.
With the establishment of these central agencies progress went on in. the individual institutions and many changes occurred in their standards, policies, and performances. To enumerate all of these changes would require an intensive study of present conditions by one thoroughly acquainted with the situation as it existed here ten years ago. But I may mention a few to demonstrate the progress that has been made. The average length of stay in the institutions for the individual child has been greatly shortened. Today, with less capacity; because of the closing of two institutions, Cleveland is giving care to twice as many children as it did ten years ago. The care has changed from long-time care for normal children to short-time specialized, intensive training for children
from disrupted homes, who have been previously neglected. This specialized, intensive care is accomplished through greatly improved medical and dental service, through well-studied nutritional and dietetic programs, through special classes established for defective children, through better developed programs of recreation and through the establishment of vocational and manual training classes. Better social study and social planning is made for each problem. Boarding homes are used for long-time care of normal children, and today practically one-third of the dependent children of Cleveland are being cared for in these homes. In the past five years the number of such children cared for in boarding homes has doubled. In the same period the number of committed children cared for in private homes under the supervision of the local agency and paid for by the state has multiplied seven times, leaving the institutional facilities available for that many additional children.
During the last decade changes have occurred in three institutions by way of building programs. But they were replacements of old and antiquated structures with new, modern, cottage-plan buildings, in suburban surroundings with modern equipment.
I would not give the impression that this city has reached the millennium in the development of children's institutions. There are many problems facing this community today, and they are just as urgent and just as hard to solve as any that we faced ten years ago. There are many children in this city, as in every city, needing care they are not getting, and many more receiving care that could be better. But we feel we have made progress and we trust that we will still push on, with the hope that ten years more will see as much advancement as has been made in the decade that has passed.
Neither would I suggest that the plan that Cleveland has followed could be accomplished everywhere, or should be. Local conditions, local persons, local problems, local resources must guide every community in the planning of its future. We of Cleveland have tried to face the situation as we saw it, have tried to plan sensibly and courageously, meeting the difficulties as they came, proud of the spirit of our people, rejoicing in the unselfish interest of every group we have, humble in our hope of what the future holds, going forward with absolute trust and confidence in each other, striving only for the best good of the children that are committed to our care. And if the future leads us forward with the same steady advancement that the past has shown we are sure that another decade will tell a story of work well done which will show in the lives of men and women who will bless the city that they lived in.