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JAMES J. DAVIS, Secretary


Bureau Publication N o. 169
1 Reserve Bank of St. Louis


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$ Ik 2


00 K> to 1-1


Purpose of the present study o f county social work________________________
W hat is meant by county organization for child care and protection?____
Changing programs of public social work__________________ _______________
Types of county organization_________________________________________________
Broad program of public-welfare or child-welfare work according to
state-wide plan_________________________________________________________
Program of social work promoted by State department but not
according to state-wide plan_____ ,___________________________ _ ________
Coordination of public and private relief promoted by State body____
Care and supervision of dependent, neglected, delinquent, or defective
children, with or without the cooperation of State department____
Summary_________ _____________________________________________ ________ :_________



Map I.— State departments or bureaus dealing with dependent, neglected,
defective, or delinquent children___________________________________________
Map II.— Organization of county public-welfare work authorized by law
or developed by State boards_______________________________________________
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A publication by the Children’s Bureau, issued in 1922,1 contains
descriptions o f the methods o f county-wide work for child care and
protection in certain States and localities. A n attempt wa-s made
to analyze the development and types o f county organization then
existing in some 15 States, in 3 o f which the county work was
developed under the auspices o f private agencies and in the others
under a public department. The work in the following States
or counties was described in detail by persons having intimate con­
tact with the plans and their development: Minnesota, North Caro­
lina, California, New York State, Westchester County, N. Y.,
and Monmouth County, N. J. In the introduction brief mention
was made o f the methods employed in some of the other States,
including Indiana, Missouri, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Arkansas,
South Carolina, and Florida, and activities in Alabama which later
were given the sanction of State law. The appendix contains the
laws authorizing special county work in Arizona, Arkansas, Mis­
souri, Ohio, and Virginia.
A field study on this subject was undertaken by the Children’s
Bureau and completed in 1925, designed to show the methods that
had been found desirable and to some extent the results obtained
through organization o f county welfare work in Minnesota and
North Carolina, and in Dutchess County, N. Y .2 These illustrate
three forms o f county social work conducted by public agencies.
The report furnishes interesting information in regard to the prob­
lems «iealt with in county work and the various methods used by
the units studied.
Since the first publication was issued a number o f changes have
occurred through passage o f new legislation authorizing this form
o f county activity and in two or three instances discontinuance
o f plans under way at the time to which the earlier report applied.
This report summarizes the information on the present situation
obtained from the various State organizations in November, 1925.
The aim is not to present the material according to a uniform plan,
but to set forth important features o f the development in each State •
as reported by persons having first-hand knowledge of the situation.
1 County Organization for Child Care and Protection.
U . S. Children's Bureau Publicaion No. 107. Washington, 1922.
2 Public Child-Caring Work in Certain Counties of Minnesota, North Carolina, and New
York, by H . Ida Curry. U. S. Children’s Bureau Publication.
(In press.)

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In discussing the work being done in the States included in the
earlier report the same field will not be covered, but an effort will
be made to give such supplementary information as will show the
present status o f the work. Except where otherwise noted, this
information was obtained through correspondence with State boards
in the fall o f 1925.

County organization for child care and protection means pri­
marily the unification, or at least the coordination, in the county,
o f the work undertaken by various public agencies for the care and
protection o f the dependent, neglected, delinquent, physically handi­
capped, and mentally defective. Sometimes health activities and
enforcement o f child labor and compulsory education laws are also
united with the program for care o f dependent, neglected, and delin­
quent children, and the activities o f private agencies are coordinated
in some counties with those o f the public agencies. It is probably
unnecessary to point out that organization o f county social work is
not an object in and o f itself but is simply a means to an end—the
development o f the standards o f modern social work in the conduct
o f family or child welfare work. Interest in county organization
has developed from the same causes and often as a part o f the move­
ment to make more effective the work o f State boards or departments
o f charities or welfare. The county is selected as the local adminis­
trative unit in carrying out this program because it is the local unit
for taxation, poor relief, education, and other matters, and because
through the county as a unit the needs o f both urban and rural
children can be served.3
The form o f organization is based largely on the character o f the
public or private agencies found in the county, and is to a consid­
erable extent dependent upon the character o f the population.
Resources adequate for a county whose largest city has a population
o f about 50,000, though the same general principles may hold, would
not meet the needs o f an entirely rural county or one in which there
is a large city. The basic laws o f the State and the agencies and
institutions that have developed over a period o f years must be
taken into account. No two States have exactly the same back­
ground, and methods fitting the needs o f one can not be applied in
exactly the same way in a second State. There are equally great
differences between counties in the same State. It is therefore
necessary to follow the opportunist policy o f continually adapting
a program to local needs and local resources in working out a pro­
gram o f this kind for a State.

A ll States make some provision for certain classes o f handicapped
persons, especially for those who require custodial care or special
training, but only recently have public agencies entered the field o f
8 The Pennsylvania Department of W elfare (see p. 16) finds that the “ political bound­
aries of a county ” are not always the best for “ welfare administrative units.”
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O b .

preventive social work with families or eniMremi^/Its development
has sometimes been the result o f definite e ffe ts -on'tfie part o f pri­
vate organizations to enlist the State or other piÉolîc fioéK^Jp spécial
forms o f child caring or protective work the d e s l ^ i l ï t ^ f ; which
has been demonstrated by private agencies. Sometihiks jfehi^State,
county, or municipality has undertaken to fill a need not <&^by^any
existing agency, or to supplement an inadequate program. Tp §oihe<
States ^and in some counties and municipalities public child-Ôar|ng
activities are extensive ; in others the major part o f the field is covered
by institutions and agencies conducted under private auspices.
The effectiveness o f county organization must be judged not by the
form or the auspices under which it is undertaken, but by the quality
and the adequacy o f the work actually performed for the care o f
those m need and by what is being done to prevent or reduce future
needs through constructive social work that deals not only with the
individual but with underlying conditions.
County organization for child care and protection as it has been
deveioped, though undertaken primarily to unify and make more
effective the work o f the public authorities concerned with child welfare, is sometimes, as has been pointed out, a plan for harmonizing
the work o f the various public and private organizations active in the
county. While the complaint is sometimes heard that the extension
o f public service discourages the development o f private effort
through making agencies and institutions under private auspices
unnecessary, the question that should be asked is whether in the
absence o f the new form o f public county work the private agencies
m these counties would on their own initiative have so extended their
activities that the field o f preventive and protective service would be
covered as well as it is under public auspices. I f such an inquiry
were made it^ would doubtless be discovered that private organiza­
tions are finding greater opportunities for constructive service than
were previously recognized, although their efforts may be directed
into a different channel in order that the needs o f all the children in
the county may be met.
It is being recognized more and more that all relief for families or
for children in need o f special^ care is or should be regarded as tem­
porary and that the elimination or prevention o f the problem o f
dependency should always be sought. There is, as a consequence,
little tendency on the part o f intelligent leaders in either public or
private social work to feel that hard and fast programs are desirable
or to try to secure permanency for the institutions or agencies establ^hed. JNor is there any present tendency toward the assumption by
n1C .
® functions connected with the care and protection
o f children m need.

The following discussion will be limited to county public-welfare
work authorized by special legislation or developed by State agencies
without such laws. Special emphasis is thus placed on the work o f
public agencies, though that o f private agencies is not necessarily
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The types of organization for county public-welfare work, so
defined, may be classified into four groups based on the type of
activity undertaken:
1. Broad program of public-welfare or child-welfare
work according to state-wide plan (North Carolina,
Minnesota, Missouri} Virginia, Alabama).
2. Program o f social work promoted by State depart­
ment but not according to state-wide plan (California,
Georgia, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota,
West Virginia).
3. Coordination o f public and private relief promoted
by State body (Iow a).
4. Care and supervision o f dependent, neglected, de­
linquent, or defective children, with or without the co­
operation of State department (Arizona, Arkansas, In ­
diana, Michigan, New York, Ohio).

D E P A R T M E N T S O R B U R E A U S D E A L IN G W IT H D E P E N D E N T , N E G L E C T E D ,

PSSfil Child-welfare division of aboard of charities or department of welfare
Special child-welfare bureau and a board of control of State institutions
IZ //A Board or department with special work for children without separate division
Board of control or board of charities and separate board fo r care o f dependent children
m h i iti Board of control or board of charities and separate bureau of child and animal protection
HI III 111 (Colorado discontinued board in 1923) Board of control or board of ch a ritie s

I No b






In all the States included in the first three classes the development
o f county organization has been stimulated and promoted by a
State body, and in all but one of the States in the fourth class (New
York) more or less close relationships between the State department
and local organizations have been maintained. It is o f interest,
therefore, to note the types of State bureaus or departments dealing
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with dependent, neglected, defective, or delinquent children. These
are shown in Map I, and the different types o f county organization
are shown in Map I I (see p. 5).

Included in this group are five States—North Carolina, Minnesota,
Missouri, Virginia, and Alabama—that have county boards o f child
or public welfare carrying out broad programs according to a state­
wide plan specified by law. These boards or officials act as agents
o f the State departments for certain types o f activities. The Minne­
sota system differs in some important respects from programs in the
other States, especially in the limitation o f the activities o f the
MAP it



[County boards of visitors, juvenile advisory committees, etc., are not included]


bro ad p ro g ra m of public-welfare or child-w elfare w orK a cco rd ing to State-wide plan

y iH

Program of social w orK promoted by State department but not accordi ng to State-wideplan

V/ / / 1Coordination of public and private relief promoted by State body
pTTSra Care and su pe rvisio n of dependent,neglected,delinquent,or defective children,w ith or
bOsooi w ithout cooperation of State department

county boards to work performed for the State board of control.
The laws defining the organization of boards and the powers and
duties o f the boards and their executives are similar in the other four
States, except that Alabama (as is the case in Minnesota) has childwelfare boards, whereas North Carolina and Virginia have publicwelfare boards, and Missouri has superintendents of public welfare
but no boards.
i The States are discussed in the order o f establishment of county work,

16592°—26----- 2
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North Carolina.5

The law enacted in North Carolina in 1917, amended in 1919 and
1921,£ provides for the appointment by the State board of charities
and public welfare, o f county boards o f charities and public welfare
consisting o f three members. The county board is to advise with
and assist the State board in the work in the county and make such
visits and reports as the State board may request. The board is
also to act “ in a general advisory capacity to the county and municipal
authorities in dealing with questions of dependency and delinquency,
distribution o f the poor funds, and social conditions generally.”
The members o f the county boards serve without pay.
The act further provides that the county board o f education and
the board o f commissioners o f each county shall elect a county super­
intendent o f public welfare, who shall be a person qualified by
character, fitness, and experience to discharge the duties o f the office.
No one can be so employed until he has received a certificate of
approval o f his fitness from the State board o f charities and public
welfare. In certain counties the county superintendent o f public
instruction may act as superintendent o f public welfare. The first
duty laid upon the county superintendent is to act as chief schoolattendance officer o f the county. Other functions delegated to him
as a county official include: (a) The care and supervision o f the
poor and administration o f the poor funds; (b) promotion of
wholesome recreation in the county and enforcement o f laws regu­
lating commercial amusement; (c) supervision o f prisoners on
parole; and (d) oversight o f dependent and delinquent children,
especially those on probation or parole. As an agent o f the State
board, and under its direction, the county superintendent performs
the following duties: (a) Acts as agent o f the State board in
relation to any work to be done by the State board within the
county; (b) supervises adults and children discharged or paroled
from State hospitals, penal, correctional, or other State institutions ;
( g) investigates the causes o f distress and makes such other inves­
tigations in the interest o f social welfare as the State board may
The State board o f public welfare has actively promoted the
development o f county boards and the appointment o f well-qualified
superintendents o f public welfare. A director o f county organi­
zation is included on the staff o f the State board.
The status o f county organization was reported as follows on
August 25, 1926 :
Total counties in the State____________________________ _


Whole-time superintendents of welfare with assistants_______
Whole-time superintendents of welfare without assistants__
Part-time superintendents of welfare__________________________
Superintendent of public instruction serves as superin­
tendent of welfare-------------------------------------------------------------------


5 The North Carolina system of county public-welfare work has been described in more
detail in tw o Children’s Bureau publications previously cited : County Organization for
Child Care and Protection, pp. 4 3 -5 3 , 151—154, and Public Child-Caring W ork in Certain
Counties of Minnesota, North Carolina, and New York (in press).
6 N. C., act of Mar. 6, 1917, Public Laws of 1917, p. 320, ch. 170, amended by act o f Feb.
13, 1919, Public Law s o f 1919, ch. 46, and by act o f Mar. 4, 1921, Public Law s o f 1921.
p. 385, ch. 128 ; Consolidated Stat. 1919, secs. 5014—5018, amended by Public Laws of
1921, ch. 128.
7 Of these 12 have clerical assistants.
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An important feature of the development o f county social work
in North Carolina has been the summer-training course for county
superintendents o f welfare conducted by the State university in
cooperation with the State board o f charities and public welfare.

County child-welfare boards were authorized by statute in Minne­
sota in 1917 9 in accordance with the recommendation of the State
child-welfare commission. The law provides that the State board
o f control, when requested to do so by boards o f county commis­
sioners, may appoint in each county three persons (at" least two
o f whom shall be women), who shall serve without compensation,
and, together with a representative o f the county board o f com­
missioners and the county superintendent o f schools, shall constitute
a child-welfare board for the county. In counties containing a
city o f the first class the board membership shall include five persons
appointed by the State board. The county child-welfare board is
tied up directly to the State board, the law specifying that it shall
perform such duties as may be required o f it by the State board
o f control. A secretary and necessary assistants may be employed
by the county child-welfare board, persons thus appointed acting
as executive agents o f the county board. In counties where no
child-welfare board exists the judge o f the juvenile court may ap­
point a local agent to cooperate with the State board of control.
Salaries o f secretaries or agents and expenses o f board members
and agents are to be paid from county funds.
The relation between State and local administration in childwelfare work has been described by the first director o f the children’s
bureau, Minnesota State Board o f Control, in County Organization
for Child Care and Protection,10 and the development of the county
units is discussed in detail in Public Child-Caring Work in Certain
Counties o f Minnesota, North Carolina, and New York.11 In the
latter report it is stated that the county boards in Minnesota are
expected to perform the duties o f the State board o f control in
protecting, establishing paternity, and securing the support o f chil­
dren born out o f wedlock; in investigating {a) boarding homes
and maternity hospitals for licensing, ( b) homes in which dependent
children have been placed, and (<?) prospective adoptions; and in
supervising dependent children and feeble-minded persons who have
been committed to the guardianship o f the State board o f control.
On the request of the juvenile court o f the county, the county
board may investigate applications for mothers’ allowances and
supervise families receiving such grants. They may cooperate upon
request with the public officials or boards charged with the relief
of the poor.
8 The operation o f the Minnesota system is described more fully in the two Children’s
Bureau reports previously cited.
9 M inn., act of Apr. 10, 1917, Law s of 1917, p. 279, ch. 194, secs. 4 -7 ; Gen. Stat. 1923,
secs. 4457—4461.
10 Hodson, W illiam W . : “ Organization and development of county child-welfare boards
in Minnesota.”
County Organization for Child Care and Protection, pp. 19—42. U. S,
Children’s Bureau Publication No. 107. Washington, 1922.
11 U. S. Children’s Bureau publication.
(In press.)
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The staff employed in the child-welfare work o f the counties in
the fall o f 1926 was as follow s:
Total counties in the State____________________________


Counties having child-welfare boards__________________________


W ith full-time executive secretaries_____________________
W ith part-time executive secretaries____________________
W ith no paid workers______________________________________
Counties having no child-welfare boards______________ _______


W ith agents appointed by juvenile courts_________________
W ith no special county service for children---------------------



The Missouri law passed in 192112 authorized county courts in
counties of less than 50,000 to appoint county superintendents of pub­
lic welfare and such assistants as might be required. The duties of
the county superintendent were defined as follow s:
1. Administration of funds devoted to outdoor relief
and allowances to needy mothers.
2. Supervision o f patients discharged or paroled
from the State hospital for the insane.
3. Supervision o f prisoners on parole from the State
penitentiary and the Missouri reformatory, and boys
and girls paroled from the training school for boys and
the industrial home for girls.
4. Cooperation with State employment bureaus.
5. Investigation o f condition of the poor, sick, and
delinquent in the county and enforcement of school
attendance laws.
6. Acting as probation officer of the county.
7. Investigation of requests for charity and applica­
tions of blind persons for pensions.
The county superintendent o f public welfare may be deputized or
authorized and required by the State board of charities and correc­
tions to act as its agent in any work to be done by the board within
the county, and to act as local representative of the children’s
bureau of the State board in its work o f finding foster homes and
supervising children placed in them. He may also be deputized as
an agent of the State factory inspector. He serves as probation
officer and attendance officer, administers all county funds devoted
to outdoor relief and allowances to needy mothers, and is directed
to investigate the condition of the poor, sick, and delinquent of the
In a leaflet published by the Missouri State Board o f Charities
and Corrections, the purpose of a county department of public
welfare is stated as follow s:
To furnish in the county government one department which is responsible
for all the social work done by the county; as there is a county superintendent
to handle the school business of the county, as there is a county farm agent
to look after the advancing o f farm interests in the county, so should there
be a superintendent of public welfare to advance and conserve the human
« M o ., act of Mar. 31, 1921, Law s of 1921, pp. 5 8 6 -5 8 9 .
13 Biennial Report of the Missouri State Board of Charities and Corrections, 1 9 2 3 -19 2 4 ,
p. 43. Jefferson City, Mo., 1925,
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interests of the county. As the other departments are conducted by trained
men, so is it even more important that a trained worker administer the
social work of the county.14

In the smaller counties it is found practicable to combine in the
person o f superintendent o f public welfare the duties of juvenilecourt workers, compulsory-attendance officers, and other officials
dealing with the dependent, delinquent, and defective. In no county
has preexisting work in these fields been eliminated. In the larger
counties the different branches of work may be divided among a
staff under the supervision o f the county superintendent.
In November, 1925, the secretary of the State board o f charities
and corrections reported that there were in the State 23 countywelfare superintendents, 8 o f them employed on full time, the
remainder on part time.

In 1922, following the recommendations o f the Children’s Code
Commission o f Virginia, the legislature enacted a body o f new
child-welfare laws, the central administering agency for which was
the reorganized State board o f charities and corrections called
the Virginia State Board of Public Welfare. In order to extend
the work of the State board into the counties, county and city
boards o f public welfare were provided for. This law made it
mandatory upon the circuit court o f each county to appoint, not
later than two years from the date o f passage o f the act, a county
board o f public welfare o f three to seven members, from a list o f
eligibles submitted by the State board •o f public welfare. The
creation o f a city board o f public welfare was optional with the
corporation or hustings courts o f cities.15 The duties o f these county
and city boards are to inspect all institutions o f a charitable or
penal nature within the county or city; to interest themselves in
all matters pertaining to the social welfare o f the people of the
county or city; to direct the activities o f the superintendents o f
public welfare when there is one; and to cooperate with the juvenile
and domestic-relations courts “ and all other agencies operating for
the social betterment o f the county or city.”
When the board “ may deem it advisable and expedient ” they
shall elect from a list o f eligibles submitted by the State board a
county or city superintendent o f public welfare—to serve as the
executive officer o f the board— and such assistants as are deemed
necessary. Two or more counties, or a city o f the first class and a
county, may unite in providing for such service. Under the law
every superintendent is vested with the powers o f a police officer
or constable.
The duties o f the superintendent of public welfare cover a broad
field o f cooperation with the State board o f public welfare. He acts
as an agent o f the State board o f public welfare in relation to any
work undertaken by the board in the county or city. Under the
direction o f the State board, he supervises persons discharged or
paroled from State institutions o f any kind and dependent children
laced in the county or city by the State board. He also assists the
u Conserve Human Resources ; a county superintendent o f public welfare needed.
board of charities and corrections. Jefferson City, Mo.
16 Va., act o f Feb. 2 7 , 1922, A cts o f 1922, p. 156, ch. 105, secs. 1 2 -1 4 .
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State board in finding employment for the unemployed and makes
investigations into the causes o f distress or any other investigations
the State board may direct.
In relation to relief activities carried on by the county the super­
intendent of public welfare has the care and supervision o f the
poor and administers the funds formerly administered by the over­
seers of the poor. He administers mothers’ aid funds, where such
funds exist, in accordance with the provisions of the State law.
In cooperation with the courts he acts as chief probation officer for
county or city. In addition to these definite functions it is his duty
to “ foster cooperation and intelligent division of work between all
public and private charitable and social agencies in the county or
city to the end that public resources and charitable donations may
be conserved and the needs o f the county or city be adequately
cared for.”
The report o f the Virginia State Board o f Public Welfare, issued
in 1925, in discussing some o f the child-welfare laws enacted in
1922, states:
These laws are on the statute books, and, with the funds provided, are being
administered as well as could be expected, but they have not received the
support needed either financially or morally to make them as effective as
they might easily be * * *. It is comparatively easy to write a law into
the statute book, but another thing to administer it, and there has been
greater support in doing the former than the latter.16

The agent o f the board in charge o f the development o f county
work said in a letter to the Children’s Bureau that because o f this
lack of support the bureau- o f county and city organization, planned
for as an important division o f the State board, is for the most part
a nominal one, never having been provided for in the budget. The
director of the county work has at present several other functions
o f the State board to perform.
It is reported that in the fall o f 1925 boards had been appointed
in about 40 counties, but owing to inadequate supervision had not
really functioned in more than 10 or 12 counties—those on which
the State board had concentrated its efforts—and in these their
work was felt to have justified their existence. Seven counties had
superintendents o f public welfare, in accordance with the act o f
1922, and in 10 or more counties a public-health nurse or a Red
Cross worker was to all intents and purposes serving as superin­
tendent. As there are 100 counties in the State, this leaves most
o f them unorganized.

County boards o f child welfare were authorized by an Alabama
statute enacted in 1923.17 This act authorized the judge o f the
juvenile court (the county judge o f probate), when the county
board o f education and the board o f county commissioners declare
by resolution that a county child-welfare board should be established
in that county, to appoint three citizens at large, two o f whom
shall be women. These three members, together with the judge o f
the juvenile court, the chairman o f the county board of education,
16 Sixteenth. Annual Report o f the State Board of Public W elfare o f Virginia, year end-/
ing June 30, 1025, pp. 6, 7. Richmond, 1025.
® A la., act o f Sept. 26, 1023, A cts of 1023, p. 380, No. 3 6 0 ; Code 1023, secs. 1 4 3 -1 5 2 .
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the county superintendent o f education, and one member of the
board o f county commissioners, constitute a county board o f child
welfare. As defined by the State child-welfare department, the
duties o f the county board o f child welfare will be to “ cooperate
with the judge o f the juvenile court; with the county and city
boards o f education, in the enforcement o f the compulsory school
attendance law ; with the county board o f health in matters relating
to welfare o f children; and * * * with all other educational
and social agencies, public and private, in the county for the
coordination o f all work pertaining to the well-being o f children.” 18
The State Child-Welfare Department o f Alabama helps the
counties to survey conditions and inaugurate the service needed.
The duties o f the county superintendent o f child welfare include
the follow ing:
1. Serving as probation officer of the juvenile court.
2. Enforcing the compulsory school attendance law.
3. Cooperating with the State child-labor inspector
in the enforcement o f the State child labor law.
4. Acting as parole officer for any child living in
the county paroled from a State institution.
5. Cooperating with the State child-welfare depart­
ment and all other public or private agencies having
to do with or giving relief to children.
6. Cooperating with county boards o f health in public
programs for children.
It will be seen that these functions are very similar to those
o f county superintendents in North Carolina, Virginia, and
The salary o f the county superintendent o f child welfare and
other expenses may be paid jointly by the county board of education
and the board o f county commissioners. Special funds for this
work may be appropriated by any municipality in the county.
Four counties had been organized by the State child-welfare
department prior to the passage of the law in 1923. The director
o f the child-welfare department stated in November, 1925, that
during 1925 six counties were organized “ with full-time, trained,
and well-paid social workers.” The director described the organi­
zation in one county as follows:
C----------- County is entirely rural, being the first county in the production
of cotton this past year. A most unique organization has been put on here
where all the county agents, such as the county health officer, health nurse,
home demonstration agent, county supervisor, and the farm agent, together
with the new probation and school-attendance officer made an educational
campaign in the county, holding eight or nine meetings at the consolidated
schools attended by great groups of farmers interested in knowing what “ the
county as a unit for an organized program of social work ” meant.

And in regard to another county:
Perhaps the most progressive program that has been inaugurated is in
X -----------County. The plan is to place on duty in this county a trained social
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worker to supervise rural field and case social-welfare work in the county,
and in addition, to conduct classes and supervise county rural field and case
social-welfare work.

A ll these counties have been organized by the State department.
The director says, “ First, we go into the counties and make a study
o f conditions; second, present this study before the people; and
third, go before the boards of commissioners and boards o f education
to help secure the appropriation.” A ll local workers must be certi­
fied as to training and experience by the department, and it is stated
that every county so far has left the selection of the worker entirely
to the department. After the work has been organized in a county
the State department receives monthly reports on its progress and
makes “ friendly visits ” to help in keeping the work up to standard.
One o f the difficulties in county organization in Alabama, as in the
other States undertaking similar work, is to find workers properly
qualified by training and experience. The type o f extension work
undertaken in North Carolina by the State university in coopera­
tion with the State board o f charities and public welfare (see p.
7) is an important feature in the development o f county organi­

California, Georgia, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota,
and West Virginia constitute a group o f States in which county
programs o f social work are promoted by the State department
with or without statutory authority but not according to a general
state-wide plan, the organization in each county being adapted to
local needs. In these States the State departments have put much
emphasis on advising and helping the counties to develop whatever
methods o f work and cooperation between public or private agencies
seem practicable in view o f local conditions. There are certain
advantages in this method, based as it must be on education o f the
communities as to needs and methods and subsequent development
from within the county of its own program. On the other hand,
the State functions ox investigation and supervision can not be
developed so readily under this form o f county organization, and the
need o f developing private agencies is much greater than where the
nucleus is public and cooperation between public and private agen­
cies may be more successfully organized.
C aliforn ia.

The executive secretary o f the California Department of Welfare,
in November, 1925, stated that the activities o f the department in
connection with the organization o f county social work have con­
tinued along the same lines as those that were described in the
Children’s Bureau publication, County Organization for Child Care
and Protection.19
Surveys have been made in various counties in order to interest
them in creating public-welfare boards. The 1925 law creating the
State department of public welfare authorizes it to utilize the serv­
ices o f an “ approved and accredited inspection service ” in the issu18 County Organization for Child Care and Protection, pp. 55-71.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


c h il d

c a r in g


p r o t e c t iv e



ance o f permits or licenses for institutions, boarding homes * * *
or to engage in the finding o f homes for children or placing children
in homes.” 20 Although this law .does not apply specifically to county
boards it may be so interpreted, .and local agencies and organiza­
tions, including county boards, may be given the right to act as rep­
resentatives o f the State department.
Twenty of the 58 counties of the State are reported as having
paid workers devoting full time to social-service work in the county
welfare departments.

The Georgia State Department o f Public Welfare has undertaken
the task o f promoting social work in the counties not according
to any set program for organization, but by working out with the
existing local organizations the needs and possibilities in each county
and by helping them to coordinate and extend the work as required
to make social service available to all those in need.
The director o f the division o f county organization o f the State
department o f public welfare reports that the counties in Georgia
are rapidly coming to see “ that the fundamental need in the welfare
program o f caring for the delinquent and dependent is the organi­
zation o f county forces under trained leadership, for the effective
cooperation o f all interested groups and the coordination of efforts
which have hitherto been dissipated by working blindly and at
cross purposes.” 21 As there is no special legislation authorizing
this type o f work, the State department has undertaken it as a
necessary part o f its public-welfare work. The report cited goes
on to say:
A s the official investigatory and advisory agency, it is the duty of the State
department of public welfare, through its division of county organization,
to find out how each county is caring for its dependents and to discover if
the methods are such as lead toward rehabilitation o f the socially handicapped,
so that they may be returned as productive citizens * * *, Where methods
are found to be wasteful or inefficient, it is the duty o f this division to show
how the county may organize its forces to do the work as it should be done.

The need for organized and county work was pointed out in the
State department’s report, which states that the 161 counties in the
State were spending on outdoor relief to dependent families approxi­
mately $400,000. “ This amount,” the report says, “ is usually
handed out in pitiful doles in various haphazard, unbusinesslike
ways to what is known as the pauper list, with no facilities for
finding out the real needs o f those applying for aid.” One county
commissioner is quoted as saying, “ The delinquent and dependent
o f our county is the biggest thing we have to deal with. W e spend
from $500 to $600 a month on the dependent and disorganized
families. It increases every month and we are getting nowhere.”
People are placed on the “ pauper list ” or in the county almshouse
by the county commissioners, acting usually upon petitions circulated
by family or friends and signed by a large number o f voters. No
effort is made to discover the real conditions and needs.
20 Calif., act o f Mar. 27, 1925, Law s o f 192-5, pp. 2 9 -2 5 , ch. 18.
a F ootprin ts; report of fifth year’s work of the State department o f public welfare,
June 1, 1925, p. 6. Atlanta, Ga.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



Thirty-six families on the pauper list in one county were visited
by the department’s agent and an investigation made o f conditions.
Twelve o f the families were reported as not requiring the aid given,
and relief was discontinued by the county. Fifteen additional
families could have been removed from the county’s list i f a welfare
worker had been available to solve the problems which were handi­
capping them. In other cases on the list families were woefully
neglected because they were in need o f services o f various kinds
which the county did not supply.
Other problems that make county social work necessary are de­
scribed in the State report, including the need o f probation officers
to make investigations o f juvenile cases and supervise children
placed on probation and enforcement o f the school attendance law
by a trained family-welfare worker. The State department esti­
mates that “ in the average rural Georgia county one trained welfare
worker can handle the work with the county’s poor, its juvenile
court, and its school attendance, with the assistance o f the volunteer
help o f churches and civic organizations.” It is further stated that
according to studies made in several counties proper investigation
o f the pauper list would save the county enough money to pay the
salary o f a trained welfare worker, especially with the addition o f
the money now being paid by the county for school-attendance work.
The policy underlying the promotion o f county social-welfare work
in Georgia is thus stated in the department’s report:
In each county the problem has been approached by the State department
o f public welfare open-mindedly, with no preconceived ideas. Each county
situation is considered individually by the department and on its own merits,
and advisory service as to organization is rendered in the spirit o f cooperation
and helpfulness. There is no desire to dictate local policies, but only a desire
to render trained advisory service toward a successful and happy working
out of the county-wide program. A s the official State agency, with the duties
and responsibilities of developing a State welfare program, the department
has tried to study the social problems in each county which present them­
selves constantly to county officials and private citizens. It has tried to see
these problems from the standpoint of the county official in his efforts to be
systematic and save m oney; from the standpoint of the citizen who would
like to see service rendered to unfortunate people; and from the standpoint
of the individual to whom service is rendered.*2

Although, as has been pointed out, the State department holds
that a “ stereotyped plan for county organization for welfare work ”
is not desirable, it is stated in the report that “ there are three phases
o f the problem, namely, the relief work, the juvenile delinquency,
and the school attendance, which logically seem to tie up in the
small county. The juvenile court law, section 900 o f the Code, makes
legal provision for the appointment o f a probation officer. The
school attendance law makes mandatory provision for attendance
officer and a commissioner o f the poor may be appointed according
to section 550. On the basis o f any one or all o f these laws and
o f the potentialities o f the county’s private agencies, various plans
may be worked out.”
Outside the 5 counties containing large cities, 13 counties were
reported as having social workers. In 3 o f these counties this
worker is connected with the local Red Cross chapter. In 7 counties
22 Footprints, pp. 16, 17.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



he is the probation officer under the juvenile advisory board, and
in 3 counties a part-time probation officer.
North Dakota.

The development o f county social work in North Dakota is o f
recent origin, but a beginning has been made in several counties.
The children’s bureau of the State board of administration has
undertaken the organization of county child-welfare boards as a
part o f its program o f constructive child caring and protective work
throughout the State. Because the State children’s bureau has been
very much occupied since its creation in 1923, and educational prep­
aration is required in the counties as a basis for coordinating social
work and improving methods, the work has progressed slowly.
There has been, however, a definite aim. The State bureau seeks to
create a demand for county organization from the counties them­
The director o f the North Dakota Children’s Bureau says:
From several counties has come the request for the organization o f county
child-welfare boards.
In one county the juvenile commissioner, a trained
social worker, serves as secretary of the county-welfare board, her salary
being paid by the county * * *. Problems o f child care in the county
are brought before the regular meetings of the board. This board also serves
as the official representative of the State children’s bureau.
In B_______
County the county and the Red Cross finance a full-time experienced worker
to whom come all problems concerning children in need of care, as well as
general family-welfare work.
The officials and public generally appreciate
the value of this work and for the past years have supported it whole­
heartedly. The worker in this county also serves as juvenile commissioner
to the district. The child-welfare board in C----------- County has not seen its
way clear to financing a secretary, and therefore acts only in an advisory
capacity. It is only a matter of time before there will be a trained worker
in the field. The full-time trained secretary in W ----------- County is paid by
the county and the Red Cross. There is no official organization of a board,
as the board of the Red Cross and the county and city officials actually serve
in that capacity.

It is further reported that several counties have begun to work
out plans whereby several adjoining counties, each financially unable
to meet the expense of a full-time worker, could unite in the joint
employment o f a social worker for the administration o f mothers’
pensions. In North Dakota several organizations, including the
women’s clubs and parent-teacher associations, are sponsoring legis­
lation to authorize the organization of county child-welfare boards,
and it is stated that there is every likelihood that the next legis­
lative assembly will consider this subject.
The director o f the State bureau sums up the situation as follow s:
The children s bureau has been in operation two years and during that
period has been overwhelmed with problems concerning handicapped children.
It is evident that effective work can not be done without the aid of locai
units such as county child-welfare boards through which to work.
grave danger will lie in the inability of the county to support a qualified
executive and the tendency to depend upon inexperienced, untrained service.


The act under which the Pennsylvania department o f welfare
operates, as amended in 1923, contains the provision that “ the
23 Except where otherwise noted information was received from the Pennsylvania De­
partment of W elfare, November, 1925.
See “ Pennsylvania welfare problem founded on
by A . E. Howell, field representative, State department of welfare, in The
Nation’s Health,, Vol. V II, No. 8 (August, 1 9 2 5 ), pp. 5 3 4 -5 3 5 .
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis




department of welfare shall have the power to promote the organi­
zation o f county councils o f social agencies and county welfare
boards, the purpose o f which shall be to coordinate the social-welfare
activities o f the counties.” 24 _Since its organization the department
has promoted such activities in the counties.25 Under the authority
o f the present law, the department o f welfare has on its staff “ a
special representative in community-welfare organization, to consult
with officials, citizens, agencies, and groups interested in local or
county welfare work, to help them to find the best organization
to suit their needs, to promote a better cooperation within the
counties and communities, and to work out with other public and
private agencies a general plan for county welfare organization in
the State.”
In November, 1925, what are known in Pennsylvania as “ county
councils o f social agencies ” were reported to be in active operation
in four counties and in process o f development in several others.
In five additional counties “ welfare federations ” had been estab­
lished on a county-wide basis and in three other counties on practi­
cally a county-wide basis.
Under a plan adopted as a result of the earlier program o f the
welfare department in cooperation with other State departments,
“ county welfare boards ” had been organized in three counties.
“ One o f these boards now operates to some extent, another operates
jointly with the county council o f social agencies, and the third has
established a social-service exchange, but as a board it is at present
inactive. None of these county welfare boards employs a paid
worker, but two are planning to do so in the near future.”
In regard to the definite part played by the department in the
organization o f these activities, the field representative in charge
o f county work states:
The welfare department took the initiative in organizing these three county
welfare boards and some o f the councils. It also influenced the organization,
o f a few federations, but it is difficult to say just what part the department
played in the establishment of several councils of social agencies and welfare
federations now in existence. Probably the latter came almost altogether
from local initiative.

There are said to be indications that welfare departments may be
a more logical development in some counties than welfare boards,
and “ a few such county departments o f welfare appear to be slowly
coming into being.” In such instances an officer is employed by the
county commissioners to administer poor funds, or by several public
agencies such as the mothers’ assistance fund trustees, directors of
the poor, juvenile court, superintendent of schools, or by private
family or child welfare agencies. “ The important thing seems to
be to administer closely related welfare work in a logical district
under the close affiliation o f agencies involved, or from a single
office. Since in some places such a ‘ logical district ’ is determined
more by the topography o f the region, by population, or industrial
areas, it seems possible that political boundaries will not always be
the best determinant for welfare administrative units.”
The department has recognized the desirability of inspiring local
initiative and aiding in the development of county plans in accordf P a., act o f June 7, 1923, Law s o f 1923, P. L . 498, No. 274, sec. 2006.
26 County Organization for Child Care and Protection, pp. 9 -1 1 .
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



ance with the needs and resources that may be developed in each
community. The field representative says on this poin t:
The department’s purpose and method is to act in an advisory capacity and*
as a clearing house for information. It encourages local initiative and leadership.
Each community or county is considered on its own merits the
whoie situation studied, and an attempt made to plan the organization to
suit its peculiar needs. Apparently this method must be used for some time
ni Pennsylvania, with the possible exception o f smaller counties * * *
The department of welfare is at present inclined to believe that the more
scientific and in the end the more fruitful means of promoting social welfare
Pennsylvania is through aiding individual counties and communities to
study their situation and adapt their form o f organization to local needs.

The department o f welfare has worked on plans to be incorpo­
rated m a proposed bill giving legislative authority to the establish­
ment or county welfare boards; but, as has been indicated, no one
system has appeared adaptable to the situation in all counties. A.
tentative draft o f such a bill authorizing the appointment o f county
welfare boards m all but first-class counties provides that the countv
commissioners, upon the recommendation o f the county welfare
board, shall employ a “ competent person who shall be thoroughly
qualified by training and experience in welfare work as county
superintendent o f welfare and such other assistants as they may
deem necessary.” The salaries are to be paid out of the funds o f
the county, and the superintendent o f welfare is to be the secretary
o f the board and perform such other duties as the board may
Upon “ due request and written agreement” the county welfare
board is to furnish the services o f the county superintendent o f
welfare and his assistants to—
(1 ) The mothers’ assistance fund trustees for investigation
and supervision o f cases receiving assistance.
. (2) The poor-relief authorities for investigation and supervi­
sion o f applicants for relief.
(3 ) The courts of the county for investigation and probation
o f individuals brought before them.
(4 ) The school authorities for attendance work and social case
work with such school children as may need it.
(5 ) State mental clinics, public hospitals, and public institu­
tions for social investigation and cases applying to them.
(6 ) Any other governmental agency, public or semipublic insti­
tution for such social investigation and supervision as m av be

Under this proposed legislation the countv welfare board would
further be given authority to conduct, at the request of the county
commissioners, any other activity that the county commissioners are
by law empowered to conduct which has to do with the social welfare
and health o f the residents o f the county, and to enter into financial
arrangements with any public or private body, institution, or agency
to receive services from any qualified private agency or institution
or to render services to them.
South Dakota.

The Legislature o f South Dakota in 1921 passed a law 26 creating
county child-welfare boards. The law provides that the State childwelfare commission (a continuing body) shall appoint in each
S. Dak., act Of Mar, 12, 1921, Laws of 1921, eh, 142, p. 232,
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



county o f the State two persons to serve without compensation and.
to hold office for two years. These two appointees, together with
the county judge, the county superintendent o f schools, and the
county superintendent o f health, constitute under the South Dakota
law a county child-welfare board. The board acts in a general
advisory capacity to the county and municipal authorities in dealing
with questions of dependency and delinquency and social conditions
generally. The 1923 bulletin o f the commission states that the work
will be “ mostly in cooperation with the county judge, who acts
also as juvenile judge, with the county superintendent o f schools
regarding school attendance o f children, with the county commis­
sioners, and with the county nurse, where there is one.” 27 The
board may appoint a secretary who, with the approval o f the county
commissioners, may be paid a salary.
The 1924 report o f the State child-welfare commission says that
“ a county welfare board has been created in 42 counties (o f the
total 68 counties in the State) at a total cost o f $769.86. This amount
covered the expenses o f a visit by the secretary to 46 counties. 28
This represents work done within the period of a year and a halt.
There is no mention in the report o f activities undertaken by these
boards other than “ surveys ” nor of the employment of a trained
W est Virginia.

The child-welfare commission reporting in 1923 to the West V ir­
ginia Legislature recommended authorization o f the establishment
o f county welfare boards, or employment of county welfare secre­
taries where a board was not thought desirable, and this plan was
enacted into law.29 The duties o f the board of county welfare or
o f the county welfare secretary, were defined by the statute as
follows :
To advise and cooperate with and assist the State board of children’s
guardians in its work in the county and to make such visitations and reports
as the State board of children’s guardians may request ; to act in a general
advisory capacity to the county and municipal authorities in dealing with
questions o f dependency and delinquency, distribution of poor funds and
social conditions generally.

The following information received from the executive secretary
o f the State board of children’s guardians illustrates the methods
pursued by the State board in developing social work in the
counties :
Early in 1924 the County of M----------- offered to pay a district agent o f
the State board a small salary in addition to what she was receiving from
the State if she would demonstrate to them the need and value o f such work.
By the end of the year the demonstration was so conclusively proven that
the county employed a woman on full time to go on with this program.
This practically resulted in relieving the local county overseers of the poor
from further service. The county also named a woman probation officer at
the county seat. Beginning with 1925, M-----------County had a trained woman
on salary available for fam ily investigations of all sorts, equipped to go to
any part of the county and make any form of investigation desired by judge,
county prosecutor, sheriff, or local society.
27 Bulletin of the State Child-Welfare Commission of South Dakota, 1923, p. 5. Pierre,
S Dak
’ 28 Second Biennial Report of the State Child-W elfare Commission of South Dakota, for
the period ending1 June 30, 1924, p. 5. Pierre, S. Dak.
29 W . Va., act of Apr. 13, 1923, A cts of 1923, ch. 60, p. 202,
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



Shortly after this demonstration had so successfully ended, a neishborimr
g iv iJ fu n S e “ »

t o ^ S t t e f n e i g S S i g ‘c o u r n y M ? i J S

Meanwhile another agent of the State board offered
stration in F— -------County, provided they would follow it
ment of a welfare secretary. The county court named a
salary of $200 a month, and appointed the district agent
assistant secretary for a period of three months on a


' “ ¡X T 1

to make a demon­
up by the appointman prom ptly^ t a
of the State board
nominal sala rv to

worfc The progress has » « *

Other district agents o f the State board o f children’s guardians
are carrying out demonstrations in other counties under varying
terms.” The secretary o f the State board states:
- . ’
I t may be said now that the program o f a county welfare secretary at the
county courthouse m every county is the most practical solution o f the poor
relief problem o f the counties. In rural counties in the mountainous sections
where families are isolated in the narrow valleys and remote nooks it may
be necessary to continue the overseers o f the poor for immediate-relief work
^ Sef Studl,eP and fam ily adjustments will eventually fall to the work of
the county welfare secretary, with headquarters at the county seat * * *
When the county levies are made another year, a great many counties will
be prepared to make provisions for a county welfare secretary.

Stressing the absence o f any single program and the State board’s
policy m interesting the counties in the development of social work
the secretary o f the board says:
„ ^ e r e is no legal restriction on this work, but the poor law gives plenty
Yde* Tbe State board o f children’s guardians has no legal control
and no legal supervision beyond the general provision in the law. The State
board acts in a friendly and advisory capacity when called upon by any agent
n i , i o ^ mberS/ f thf Sta.te board willingly respond to calls for assistance
and advice, and go down in person to help in adjusting any particular ease
This whole program o f county welfare work in W est Virginia is extremely
^ m ocratic in purpose and spirit, and the counties seem to like the independence
o f this program and freedom from direction by any State bureau or agency.

The Iowa plan, as it has come to be known, is based primarilv
on the combination o f the administration o f public and private
relief, usually on a county-jurisdiction basis. The executor o f this
county work is a social worker trained in the field of. family welfare
Ihe work o f organizing county social-service leagues is conducted
by the extension division o f the State University of Iowa. The
social worker in charge o f the county-organization work o f the
extension division says:
The Iowa plan involves the organization o f a group o f local people repre­
senting the entire county as a local board of directors. The county supervisors
for t i i
.^em bers of this board, since they are responsible by statute
for the administration o f poor relief from public funds, and the board usually
includes representatives o f the county medical society, board of education
farm bureau, and the chamber of commerce. This board employs a trained
aS^’ aad a stenographer; their salaries are met in
part by the board and in part by the county. Usually an office in the court­
house can be obtained through the county.80

In Iowa the social worker is responsible to the board for the
proper social treatment o f those who apply for relief. The worker
i o t Cottr£ ^

IW O , p . O oJ(

Louise: “A social-working State university.'
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

The Survey, February 15,



is also helpful to courts, schools, public-health nurses, private-relief
organizations, and individuals, in dealing with the handicapped.
“ It [the Iowa plan] provides the local courts with a trained social
worker for all cases involving children or helpless adults. It sup­
plies trained social service to the schools in dealing with problem
children. It strengthens a public-health program where there is
one and helps evolve one where there is none. I t insures a reliable
information service about institutional care and proper means for
using it. It affords help in filing applications properly for State
benefits available to certain groups of handicapped^ people. It pro­
vides vocational training for those handicapped for industry.” 31
A s has been stated, the board of directors o f the county socialservice league employs a full-time trained family social worker and
also a full-time stenographer. The county board o f supervisors
appoints the same social worker as overseer o f the poor, who has
all the powers and duties conferred by law and is the agent o f the
county board in dealing with dependent families. Inasmuch as she
is the executive secretary o f the county social-service league, she
has charge o f the administration o f all public relief and o f all relief
collected by the league from private sources.82
The social worker on the State university extension staff says:
The university conceives of social work as fundamentally educational in
character. It has worked for years, through its extension division, trying to
throw so much light on the inadequacy and social waste of unstandardized
service and irregular doles that citizens will become fully conscious of these
inadequacies and will demand something more nearly adequate to the need
than the old system of outdoor relief administered by people not trained for
social work.

In November, 1925, 20 counties had full-time paid workers who
administered public relief, and another county had voted to employ
such a worker. In 18 counties the jurisdiction is county-wide, in 8
it covers a part o f the county. Fifteen o f the counties are employ­
ing workers with special training in social work, most of whom had
had experience as family case workers.

In six States»—Arizona, Arkansas, Michigan, Indiana, New York,
and Ohio— county organization has been confined to the care and
supervision o f dependent, neglected, delinquent, and defective chil­
dren. In the three States first named the county board or county
agent acts as agent o f the State board in investigating and super­
vising cases o f this type. The Indiana and Ohio boards have a less
close relationship to the State departments, and in New York county
organizations have been developed independently o f the State
The county work represented in this group o f States is much
more limited than in the other groups representing organized pro­
grams of social work in counties. However, the work now done may
be the nucleus o f more general county programs.
31 The Survey, February 15, 1925, p. 582.
33 Cottrell, L ou ise: Iowa Flan, for Organization of a County Social-Service League. U ni­
versity of Iowa Extension Bulletin No. 100, February 1», 1924.
Published by the uni­
versity, Iowa City, Iowa.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis




The law enacted in Arizona in 192133 provides that the superior
court o f each county o f the State shall appoint four persons “ at
least two o f whom shall be women, and all o f whom shall be expe­
rienced as to the requirements for the support and maintenance o f
children,” who shall serve without compensation as members o f
county child-welfare boards. The members o f the county board
shall provide for the investigation o f li the conditions surrounding
any child within the county reported to it as being an orphan,
waif, neglected, or abandoned child.” Such cases may be brought
to the attention o f the board by any citizen. The county boards
cooperate with the Arizona State Child-Welfare Board. Cases are
investigated by them for the State board, and no application for
aid is granted by the State without approval by the county boards.
The State board provides care for dependent children in family
homes and aids children in their own homes.
According to information received from the secretary o f the State
child-welfare board, the work is well systematized in only 2 or 3
o f the 14 counties o f the State, because the boards are handicapped
by lack o f funds and by the fact that all the work has to be done
j L unPa^ members whose personal duties sometimes makes this
difficult, not to say impossible. The county welfare boards have not
undertaken any special work with the juvenile court.

County boards o f public welfare were authorized in Arkansas by
a law passed in 1917,34 the State commission o f charities and correc­
tion being given power to appoint five persons in each county as
members o f such boards. These boards were given the power and
duty o f inspection of institutions and agencies in their counties, simi­
lar to the inspection power o f the State commission, and were to
work under the direction o f the commission and report to it.
In 1923, when organization o f county boards had just begun, the
appropriation for the State commission o f charities and correction
was discontinued. Two county welfare boards had at that time been
named by the commission, neither of which had a paid executive.

The Michigan law provides for the appointment in each county
by the welfare commission o f the State welfare department of a
county agent who holds office during the pleasure of the commis­
sion.35 In most o f the counties the agents are employed at $5 per
day and expenses. In Wayne and Kent Counties the board o f super­
visors has fixed a salary basis for the county agent and assistant
county agent.
In smaller counties the State commission has often found it advis­
able to link up the work o f the county agent with the work of the
county school commissioner, the friend o f the court, and the proba­
tion officer, and in some instances he also acts as secretary of the
county superintendent o f the poor.
33 Arizona, act of Mar. 7, 1921, Laws o f 1921, p. 92, ch. 53, secs. 1 0 -1 2
Mar.*2 ! - 191?> LawB o£ 1917> act No. 297, p. 1520, sec. 6'; Digest of Stat.
1921 (Crawford and M oses), sec. 1024.
35 Mich., Comp. Law s 1915, secs. 1 9 9 0 -1 9 9 6 ; act o f Sept. 25, 1919, P. A of 1919 (extra
session), A ct 22, amended by act of May 24, 1923, P. A. 1923, Act 244, p. 391.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



The county agent works under the direction o f the county probate
judge and the State welfare department. The work of the county
agent36 includes: Investigating petitions filed in the juvenile divi­
sion of the probate court; investigating applications for licenses to
board children; investigating homes for licensed child-caring and
child-placing agencies; investigating homes in which children are
placed by maternity hospitals and supervising children so placed.
In addition the county agents o f the State department investigate
homes from which application is received for State wards and make
subsequent visits to homes in which wards have been placed by
licensed child-caring agencies. In most counties the* investigation
of applicants for “ mothers’ pensions ” is done by county agents.
In addition to the county agent the State welfare department has
four district supervisors who devote their entire time to the super­
vision of wards placed out by the State school for dependent chil­
dren and the industrial schools for boys and girls. These supervisors
work in close relationship with the county agents in their activities
concerning State wards.
County boards o f children’s guardians were established in Indiana
in 1901.87 In 1925 there were 92 such boards.38 The boards o f chil­
dren’s guardians are appointed by the circuit and juvenile courts of
the counties and serve as assistants to the courts. They exercise
supervision over dependent and neglected children assigned to their
guardianship by the court and may place such children in institu­
tions or in foster homes, or board them with their own mothers at a
rate not exceeding 75 cents a day for each child. The county boards
are required by law to make monthly reports to the board of state
charities, which exercises general supervisory powers over placedout children and also carries on child-placing work.
New York.


The child-welfare work that has been developed in certain coun­
ties in New York State as a public function is generally conceded to
be the result of the activities carried on for 30 years by the State
Charities A id Association, a private agency working in cooperation
with public officials in the promotion of county child-carmg and pro­
tective work. The law under which one o f these counties operates,
the methods employed, and the results attained are discussed in the
United States Children’s Bureau publication Public Child-Caring
Work in Certain Counties of Minnesota, North Carolina, and New
York and reference is made to the somewhat similar public activi­
ties in two other counties. The work for children in these coun­
ties represents a broad field o f child-caring and child-protective
work carried on by trained and experienced staffs under the control
of boards o f county officials. In one o f the counties commitments
a, Mich. Comp. Laws 1915, secs. 1991, 2 0 1 4 -2 0 1 5 (sec. 2015 being amended by act of
June 15, 1921 (1st extra session), A ct No. 24, P -J7 9 j i t A ? %
NTn iQß n 248 * Como Laws 1915, soc. 2 0 0 4 ; act o f May 18, 1913, P. A . II n S , A c t 2oo,
p ° 4 9 0 , ’s e l 4 ? ’ C o m T l Ä 1 9 1 5 , ’ secs. 1 9 9 0 -1 9 9 6 , 722& -72& 0; Comp. Law s 1915, sec..
9 0 1 7 amended bv act of June 15, 1921, P. A. 1921 (1st extra session). No. 16, p. 785
^ fnd act of M tr 11 1901 Laws of 1901, p. 369, ch. 173 amended by act o f Mar. 3,
1Q23 Taws o f 1923 p 176 ch 6 1 : Burns’ Annotated Stat. 1926, secs. 4 3 4 4 -4 3 5 1 .
192 8* £ B u l P e t o V e r i t i e s and Correction, No. 141, j W , 1925, pp. 110, 219.
The Board of State Charities, Indianapolis, Ind.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



can not be made by the county court to any private institution or
agency; they can be made only to the board of child welfare or to
State institutions. In the other counties the county boards have
general oversight o f all wards of the county. In these three counties
the boards provide for the care o f dependent children in foster
homes or in institutions, and do general children’s aid and pro­
tective work.

In 1921 the Ohio Legislature passed a la w 40 empowering counties
to appoint county boards o f child welfare which should provide
care for dependent children through placement in family homes or
otherwise, in lieu o f maintaining county children’s homes. Such
county child-welfare boards, consisting o f four members serving
without compensation, may be appointed with the approval o f the
State department o f public welfare when “ in the judgment o f the
county commissioners the best interests o f the dependent wards o f the'
county will be subserved thereby.”
In March, 1925,41 three counties had appointed boards o f child
welfare under the provisions of this law and were providing for
dependent wards through the use o f boarding and free foster homes.
In two o f these counties the former children’s homes had been aban­
doned; in the third, a remodeled residence was being used as a
receiving home, pending placement.

The reports from the States make it evident that, important
&s 8TG the terms o f the laws authorizing county welfare activities
and the forms o f organization employed, the most vital factor is
the underlying idea o f promoting social service, whether by public
or by private agencies, based on the best modern principles, with
prevention o f dependency and delinquency as its goal. The character o f the local work depends on what the superintendent and
the county board make it. The law may enumerate the duties, but
it can not fix the quality o f the service given. The supervisory
authority o f the State board or department has proved to be o f the
greatest importance in securing the appointment o f executive officers
qualified for the work and in furnishing advice and assistance to
county boards and encouraging high standards o f service.
probable that, given the necessary appropriations, almost
any board o f county commissioners which appreciated the need
j inaugurate work for the protection o f dependent and neglected
cnfidren on a constructive social-work basis, if they so desired, but
the absence o f these two factors retards such activities. County
work has been extensively developed only where there has developed
throughout the State a general appreciation o f the problems to
be dealt with and the value o f the proposed methods.
It has been demonstrated that the cost o f administration is often
more than compensated for by savings in poor relief or other
3 0 9 2 ° ^ ^ 2 - L Une

7 ’

1 921’ LaWS ° f 1921, p‘

5 3 3 ;

Pa^e’s Annotated Code (1 9 2 6 ), secs.

41 Ohio Welfare" Bulletin, Vol. I, No. 3, M arch, 1925.
Department o f Public W elfare, Columbus, Ohio.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Published quarterly by the Ohio



expenditures that had been administered wastefully under the old
system. The saving in other ways is demonstrated less easily but
is far more important. Children who are kept in their own homes
through assistance to the family, instead o f being removed to insti­
tutional or agency care; families who are helped to maintain a
normal home; boys and girls who are saved from commitment to
institutions for delinquents and given real probationary supervi­
sion; children who are removed from surroundings that are injuring
them physically or morally; crippled children for whom hospital
or clinical treatment is arranged; constructive service in a multitude
of conditions— these are the real criteria o f the value o f making this
service available to remote rural sections as well as to cities.
Including only the States in which the county work is broadly
inclusive, the various experiments may be divided into two main
1. County organization in which the executive is an official repre­
sentative of the State department o f welfare or board of charities,
performing certain State functions such as supervision o f boarding
homes or other foster homes; supervision o f children on parole from
State institutions; administration o f child labor and compulsory
education laws, case work with unmarried mothers and children,
investigation o f adoption cases, and the combining o f these State
functions with duties in connection with local relief administration,
probation work, and children’s aid and protective work.
2. The development of constructive social-service work which
coordinates the work of public or private agencies through the activi­
ties o f a social worker employed jointly by several organizations or
through a board representative o f the various forms o f service in
the county.
It is significant that this development of the county as a unit for
social work has come about almost entirely through the instru­
mentality o f State departments o f welfare or boards of charities.
This is an indication of the changing theory o f the functions o f a
State department from that of a purely supervisory and lawenforcement authority to that of an agency which promotes social
welfare through aiding in the development o f constructive service
by public or private agencies in all parts o f the State, having as
its objective the solution in accordance with present-day stand­
ards o f the problems o f dependency, delinquency, and mental
and physical handicap. There has come in State work an increas­
ing recognition of the needs and rights o f the individual State
wards. This individualization in treatment has led to a search for
causes and to the institution o f preventive measures. Prevention
and reconstruction are recognized primarily as the functions o f the
local county and community.
In child-caring work the emphasis is being placed increasingly on
the value o f home care. This is true not only in regard to dependent
children, but also to the delinquent, physically handicapped, and men­
tally defective children whose condition is such that with safety to
themselves and the community they can be cared for at home. Child
dependency is being prevented through temporary aid in preserving
the child’s* own home. When it is necessary to place a child in the
care of an agency or an institution efforts are directed toward mak­
ing the conditions in his own home such that he may be returned at
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



the earliest possible time. For children who have committed offenses
against the law probationary supervision has largely taken the place
o f commitment to institutions, and such children are being considered
as in need o f special care and guidance, with custodial care as a final
resort when home conditions require it or when the child is in need
o f special training and supervision which can not be secured locally.
Corrective treatment through clinics and equipment for training
in local public schools are making it possible for deaf, blind, and
crippled children to remain in their own communities while receiv­
ing medical care and education. Supervision in the community has
been found to be a solution o f part o f the great problem of mental
defect. Whether this work can best be done under public auspices
or through a coordination o f the services o f public and private
agencies and whether one worker or a corps o f workers is necessary
depend often on local county conditions. O f fundamental impor­
tance is the application o f the principles o f social case work to each
individual problem that presents itself, and the coordination of the
work o f social agencies in the county, whether public or private, so
that wasteful expenditure may be eliminated and that skilled service
may be made available in all parts o f the county.
It is not to be expected that any one form o f organization will be
considered practical in all types o f communities. State and county
conditions must be taken into account in planning what is likely
to prove most successful in each case. It is not the organization o f
county boards that is important but the social-service work that these
boards make possible. Whether this is done after special legislative
authorization o f such county service or whether it is developed
through education o f county after county in the principles o f con­
structive social work, is comparatively unimportant if it is found
that the same ends can be attained as speedily and as effectively by
either method. It seems evident, however, that little progress has
been made in the development o f such county work until a central
State body, usually the State board or department o f charities or o f
welfare, has undertaken a campaign of education and assistance to
the counties. It is encouraging that in a period o f less than a
decade 18 States, whose work is herein described, have definitely
undertaken to develop the counties as units o f social service.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis