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with a sufficient staff of all-round social agents and of public health nurses to cover the territory, it would seem entirely practicable for the field to be covered without duplication or waste of engery, so as to leave no yawning gaps between.
The experience of the New York State Charities Aid Association with carefully selected county agents for dependent children, who have had previous training or experience in case work, has shown the possibility of one social worker in a small rural district becoming a general practitioner, calling experts into consultation when needed, but rendering all of the types of social service which in the cities may best be rendered by specialists in the various fields.
In speaking at a recent meeting in Paris, Dr. Livingston Farrand said:
We've never been able to get the public at home really lined up behind social movements on a large scale, but here in France we're doing it; and what we're doing will count in America as well as in France. We are working just as much for humanity in general as for any one part of it; and the reaction at home of what we are doing here may be greater than any of us guess.
Must we wait longer before we take to our hearts the lesson which is being spelled out in France by our own social leaders; that of carrying to the people not a bit of relief work here, and a probation officer there—but a well defined, substantial, broad social program, which will put our citizenship on the highest possible plane of physical and social efficiency?
Any program, to be at all adequate, in addition to being a correlating movement, must recognize that variety of local conditions and needs which is both natural and inevitable, and so it must be elastic enough to meet local conditions; it must be a growing, ever changing program, and not a crystallized one, or one that is merely the present pet scheme of some individual or association. Is not the time approaching for the formulation of such a program?
If the existing independent organizations and forces are to be drawn together and coordinated; if communities are to be stimulated to more completely meet their social needs, if a complete social program is to be evolved, a central bureau of information seems essential.
In our judgment there should be in each state a center for the registration of the rural social forces within that state, and for the exchange of information among them.
In addition, there should be one national registry, to which the state registries could send data, and which could become an interstate clearing house to which one could turn for information.
The committee believes that there is no national agency which could so fittingly carry through this plan as could the National Conference of Social Work. We therefore recommend that the Executive Committee of the Conference be urgently requested to empower the General Secretary of the Conference to receive the data collected, and to add to it, thus completing the directory of rural social work which has been partially compiled.
1. Judge Perry L. Persons, of the juvenile court, Waukegan, 111., said he believed the proceedings ought to be instituted by someone other than the probation officer who has been assigned to the case.
2. Wilfred S. Reynolds, Illinois Children's Home and Aid Society, Chicago, thought one way of improving the home conditions for children in smaller communities is to start a nucleus of citizens around any flagrant matter that comes to the attention of a society and let their interests develop out of it.
3. Questions raised on discussion included an inquiry as to whether the problem of neglected children could be brought before the court without a petition, and how it would be possible to bring a parent before the court for the neglect of a child. One speaker advised that probation work may be built up in rural communities on the basis of volunteer service.
4. Other speakers on informal discussion of this subject were: David J. Terry of Pittsburgh; William H. Jeffrey, Montpelier, Vt.; Edward Murphy, Buffalo; Jesse F. Hanna, Belvidere, 111.; Clara Rummer, Detroit; Mrs. Hattie F. Hart, Lafayette, La.; C. C. Carstens of Boston.
A TENTATIVE OUTLINE FOR A STUDY ON
Cheney C. Jones, Director of Civilian Relief, Pennsylvania-Delaware
In The Survey of September 13, 1913, in a comment on the idea of a local conference on illegitimacy, occurs the following statement: "Perhaps in no field of social work are the factors less adjusted and the issues more baffling than in that relating to unmarried mothers." This statement still holds. Your sub-committee on this subject is just being formed and can not at this time of course offer any comprehensive pronouncement on the subject. The report offered this morning is not a report, but more nearly a series of questions designed to outline the scope of this problem with a view to laying out the ground which this Conference through its members, committees and meetings should cover. Little is accurately known about this problem as a whole. We know in a general way that there are many children born out of wedlock. It is generally recognized that the position and conditions of these children in society are deplorable. Illegitimacy as a social custom is recognized as a social menace and as a consequence the illegitimate child as an individual is more or less the object of our social wrath. This plainly is not fair to the child. The question remains, however, as to how much we can safely undertake in behalf of this child without encouraging the increase of his number. Just now the emergency of war, with all the accompanying responsibilities of industry, makes people valuable, and we can definitely count on greater interest in the protection of every child born.
How many illegitimate children are born? Nobody knows. What becomes of these children? Nobody knows. What is our program for
•Report of Sub-committee on Problem of the Unmarried Mother and Her Child.
them? There is no general and uniform program. This National Conference of Social Work, with its comprehensive membership, in co-operation with the Federal Children's Bureau ought to make it possible for us to know how many such children are born, to know what becomes of them, and to establish a program for their protection, care, and training. If we are to undertake this it must be with the conviction that the problem is country-wide and much more sizable than the attention given it up to this time would indicate. We must also have in mind the fact that a complete solution can not be found until at least four factors are considered: the child, the mother, the father and the community. Too often in the past our discussions have ignored two or three of these, as if the question could be settled from one angle alone.
With this in mind, we suggest the following tentative outline for the discussions and studies of this Conference during the next few years:
L Legal Aspect
First of all, there is need of a comprehensive review of the legal aspects of this subject. This should be approached from two angles,— first, a brief but comprehensive historical treatment embracing a statement of the Roman law, the Germanic law, the English laws of 1576 and 1845, the later Hungarian law and the more recent Norwegian law. With this historical basis as a background, there should follow a more complete review of the American development of maintenance laws and the difficulties in our procedure in this matter. And then we must determine such matters as whether the procedure should be criminal or civil, what plan of money settlement should be approved, whether a weekly or monthly payment basis is advisable and what later maintenance proceedings may prove effective financially and still work no serious social disaster from the standpoint of the various factors involved.
//. Physical and Medical Care of Mother and Child
Another phase of our subject, on which there is special need for careful consideration and an attempt at a more uniform practice, is the physical and medical care of the mother and child. What practical safeguards and precautions can we give in the way of parental care? What shall be the approved method of care during confinement? Shall this be given in the home of the mother, in a public hospital, in a private maternity home or other private hospital or institution, or shall we hope to find it possible to work out a system of placing such mothers individually in family homes other than their own? What shall be offered the mother and child during the period immediately following confinement? Shall it be the mother's own home, a specialized private institution or a supervised foster home?
///. The Baby's First Year
The third topic suggested presents a problem on which there is great diversity of opinion and practice. Shall the mother and child be separated as soon as possible and the child placed out for adoption, or shall they be kept together? If we are determined that for physical reasons the child shall stay with the mother during the nursing period, will we then intend to make this permanent, and if so what are we going to do for the mother and child during the following years clear through the child's adolescence? Where shall the mother and child stay during this first year,—at the mother's home? In many cases this is either impracticable or impossible, and in many cases it is necessary for the mother to earn. Will we prefer to place the mother with her child at housework, or board them in some family, with the understanding that the mother is to go out to work for the support of both, the child being cared for by the foster family during the mother's daily absence? To what extent are we to urge the policy of bringing about a marriage and attempting to establish a normal family? What is practical in the way of education for these unmarried mothers, many of whom are young and untrained?
IV. Society's Handicaps
Anyone who has dealt with these children at all recognizes the many handicaps which menace the welfare of practically every child born out of wedlock. The physical handicaps are evidenced by the higher death rate discovered in practically every study thus far made. The social handicaps are such as: (a) education abbreviated, (b) less vocational training, (c) less opportunity for the normal experiences of home life, (d) from such evidence as we have, a greater record of delinquency and criminality.
For meeting such handicaps we have now some ameliorative measures, such as the so-called Castberg law adopted in Norway, the German guardianship courts, and in our own land such plans as are included in the law creating the Minnesota Children's Bureau and other more recent legislation in several of our states. All these measures indicate a growing recognition of the responsibility of the state to equalize the opportunities of the illegitimate child with those of children born in wedlock. It is of the greatest importance that this Conference through its Division on Children study most carefully the practical operation of all these measures designed to meet the needs of this particular class of children, and out of the variety select the best for a standard and build uniformly toward that standard.
V. Relationship of Illegitimacy to Other Social Problems
Just as, in discussing any one of the outstanding general social problems which perplex the world, we discover a definite relationship existing between practically all of them, so when we consider illegitimacy we must in all our study and conference keep in mind to what extent and in what ways it is related to infant mortality, prostitution, marriage, divorce, alcoholism. What per cent, of our infant mortality is of illegitimate children and to what extent is this due to the particular social handicaps and neglect which at present attach to such children? What per cent, of our illegitimacy is clearly due to feeblemindedness? Is there a relation between illegitimacy and prostitution? If so, what is it? What bearing has alcoholism on our problem? Do our laws controlling marriage and divorce have any effect upon the increase or decrease of illegitimacy, and if so what can we provide in this respect to improve family life? Such questions as these suggest the wide scope of our particular problem and indicate how thoughtful we must be in attempting to build our program.
VI. National and Racial Aspects
With the information obtained from such a study as indicated above we may hope to gather some intelligence also on the extent of illegitimacy in various nations and among different racial groups. Such intelligence will do a great deal to indicate both causes and remedial measures, and ought to help us to wiser standards on what constitutes socially approved birth. It is clearly the function of each generation to produce a virile posterity, trained and equipped for a greater citizenship, and this function should not be lost sight of in forming our laws of domestic relations.
CHILDREN OF UNMARRIED AND OF ILLEGITIMATE PARENTS: RECENT LEGISLATION IN MINNESOTA AND ELSEWHERE
Otto W. Davis, Assistant Secretary, Minneapolis Civic and Commerce Association, Member Minneapolis Child Welfare Commission
I am glad that whoever phrased the subject for this morning used the words, The Problem of the Unmarried Mother and Her Child, rather than the expression, "Illegitimate Children," which has appeared so often on the program of this Conference. It seems to indicate progress in the transformation that is going on respecting our point of view. It indicates a consciousness of dissatisfaction with the old phraseology and a reaching out after something more accurate as well as more just. Even the old word bastard in its original meaning of "false," or "spurious," possessed advantages over the expression illegitimate child. A neater bit of legal fiction than this latter term could scarcely be conceived. We eliminated the word bastard from our Minnesota laws and wanted to eliminate the words illegitimate children, but in the brief time at the disposal of our Commission, we were unable to work out a satisfactory substitute term.
It would be impossible for me to discuss the problem of "the illegitimate child," for, to use a common expression, "There is no such animal." However, there are to be found everywhere children of unmarried or of illegitimate parents, and these are to be the objects of our thought this morning.