Administration of Public Welfare

By R. Clyde White | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVI SOCIAL STATISTICS

For the convenience of discussion it is desirable to distinguish between social statistics and financial statistics, but both kinds of statistics relate to the same problem, namely, the provision of a public welfare service. Both kinds of original data often appear on the same record form, but the statistical office may check and tabulate the social data, and the accounting office may check and tabulate the financial information. In some state departments of public welfare there is a division of general administration, of which statistics and accounting are two sections, but in others the two functions are co-ordinated only through the chief executive of the department. Finally, however, expenditures of money get related to the purposes for which the expenditures were made, such as old-age assistance or care of a patient in a hospital, in order to determine unit costs of service and administration.

The primary data of public welfare statistics appear on the application forms, vouchers, individual report forms, and the case records. That is, they are by-products of determining eligibility and of treatment. They are administrative statistics, although, for special research purposes, additional questions may be asked and answers recorded; and yet these in turn have an ultimate administrative purpose. Only such data are normally collected as seem to be necessary for the administration of the law; the public welfare worker must have certain information in order to make decisions, and he must record this information for future reference in the individual case and for purposes of statistical summary. Much of the information obtained about cases is not quantitative but descriptive; only those items of information which are definable with reasonable precision are statistical. Recording, collection, and tabulation of statistical data are necessary in order to provide a measure of current volume of work, trends in services over a period of time, standards

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