CHAPTER XI
SCHOOLS AS SOURCES

HERE are sources of information that seem to have been imperfectly used as yet by social workers. It is true that many of the agencies studied consult school officials (they were consulted 687 times in the 2,800 cases already referred to), but an examination of the individual items seems to show that both family agencies and those for the care of dependent children do not confer with educators often enough.1 The children's agencies have many charges that are under school age, but, even after allowing for this, consultations with School Sources are too infrequent, if the statistics at hand are at all representative of the usual practice.

A formal school report giving a child's grade, and his marks for scholarship, attendance, and deportment, leaves many of the most important questions about him unanswered, as the following comments, written by one who was making a survey of the case work of a certain charity organization society, indicate:

A driver, supposed to be intemperate, a wife, and four children, thirteen to three. Known to the society since December 24, 1908. An unsatisfactory record culminating in a "sob" story in the newspapers. I notice that what to me is the most important source of information--more important than landlords and former residences--was not consulted at all, namely, the school in which two or three of the children must have been entered. The physical condition of the children, any evidences of the moral background of their home which came out at the school, indications of their mental condition, whether they were laggards or not, whether they came to school looking well cared for--all of this would be extremely valuable in further treatment. In other words, is there a leverage upon this family through their love of the children revealed in proper care, or will more coercive remedies be necessary? For the children's sake, this family cannot be dropped.

____________________
1
This impression has been strengthened recently by the findings of the Springfield ( Ill.) Survey. The failure of the Associated Charities of Springfield to consult School Sources about the families in which it was interested had kept it ignorant of one of the most serious evils permitted by the city administration; namely, irregular school attendance. See Francis H. McLean on The Charities of Springfield, pp. 89-93.

-221-

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