It was pointed out in Chapter II that the first form of public welfare organization in this country was local. For three quarters of a century the states have been establishing central control and supervision over local public welfare services. This movement, already mentioned, became general and impressive after 1917. But when full weight is given to the importance of federal and state public welfare organization, the fact remains that most of the services, other than institutional services, are rendered by the staff of a local governmental unit or by a local administrative unit of a federal or state agency. Contact with the individual and the family is local contact. The type and effectiveness of local public welfare organization are, therefore, of primary importance in a general system of public welfare services. We may think of the relationships among two or more local public welfare agencies as horizontal relations, and the relationships of the local agencies to state or federal units of government as vertical relations. Both the horizontal and the vertical relationships of the local agencies are important. These relationships may be co-operative, or they may exist within a highly integrated public welfare organization. Integration within a particular local agency usually depends upon the ideas and the organizing ability of the administrative authority, while vertical integration will depend partly upon the administrative authority and partly upon the law.
The type of local organization which is found in the states has been affected by state enabling legislation, by state mandatory legislation, and by the interpretation of the common law. Within the legal limitations established there is also much room for local variation. The county, the town, the township, and the city may exercise only such powers as the state constitution or the legislature delegates to them. A city obtains a specific statement of its powers in the charter of incorporation. Enabling legislation permits a local