CHAPTER V
Fee-charging as Destructive Force

"Why not make
A business of voluntary welfare,
Charging each and every customer
All the traffic will bear?

"Results! That is what
We want.Results, like
Better buildings, higher pay, and
Tests of the real worth of
Services to the served."

Tempting. Ah, so tempting;
But a force destructive to
The heritage of the centuries, and,
In the last analysis, to
Voluntary welfare.

IN 1957 I ATTENDED three conferences widely separated geographically.These meetings were called by three different groups, dealt with three different subjects, and had three different audiences. Yet there was one theme that arose at all three, stirring up debate and revealing sharply conflicting points of view. The problem— one of the thorny questions in American social welfare—was fee‐ charging by voluntary welfare agencies.

The pressure for expanding the practice of charging fees to clients for services rendered by voluntary agencies is coming from three groups. The first two are the highly placed businessmen and other persons of power, influence, and wealth in the community, and the salaried executives who guide the destinies of united funds. These articulate people tend to believe that a social-welfare agency should not serve any person who has an immediate relative able to pay for health, welfare, or recreational services. The third group advocating fee-charging is the family-service-agency executive group. These say that charging a troubled person a fee for casework services can help a "patient" or "client" by increasing his self-respect.Agency income will grow, furthermore, and there will result increases in staff, many of whose members will be better

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