Administration of Public Welfare

By R. Clyde White | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION: PUBLIC WELFARE WORK

Public welfare activities have appeared historically in response to the recognition of specific human needs. Legal provision for the relief of recognized kinds of distress or inadequacy is as old as the codes of Hammurabi and Moses, and some of the problems with which these ancient codes of law dealt are the objects of modern public welfare services. The amount and variety of special services comprehended by the term "public welfare" have increased greatly during the last fifty years. Some of the increase is only apparent, however, because differentiation of certain groups for particular attention has not so much increased the number of groups receiving service as it has emphasized them and made the public aware of them. That there has been an increase in the number of persons receiving public welfare services in recent decades can be shown by the statistical reports available, and the number has vastly increased since 1929. It is obvious that this kind of governmental activity has grown immensely and that its importance to the nation in terms of constructive and cost warrants the best thought and most careful planning possible.

Needs have been more adequately recognized in this country in recent years than at any previous time. New public welfare legislation has been enacted, and extensive organization has been created to carry out the intent of the law. Public welfare administration has, consequently, become one of the major activities of federal, state, and local governments. In terms of expenditure it is exceeded only by the expenditure for education, and there were years during the recent depression when public welfare expenditures exceeded even those for education. The administration of the public welfare laws requires an organization suited to the purpose. Without satisfactory organization and administration the legal recognition of human needs is mere wishful thinking. The statutes prescribe the services

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