The social insurance and social assistance programs are designed primarily to meet the needs presented by the fatherless family. Homemaker service is designed primarily to meet the needs of the motherless family, to provide for those crucial aspects of the mother's role--child care and maintenance of the homewhen the mother cannot perform these functions adequately.
These services, under another name, were being offered as early as 1903, when the Family Service Bureau of the Association for the Improvement of the Conditions of the Poor in New York City employed a number of visiting cleaners who supplemented nursing services by "lifting temporarily the simple everyday domestic burdens from sick mothers." These women were later given the title visiting housewives. The Association's Annual Report listed their functions: helping in the renovation and restoration of homes; washing, cleaning, and sometimes preparing meals when the condition of the mother prevented her doing so; and demonstrating the art of good housekeeping. After 1918, care of the children, which was to be the principal reason for such services during many years of homemaker development, begins to be stated in these reports as the purpose of assignments. Although this was always a small service--no more than four visiting housekeepers were employed at any one time from 1903 to 1924--it had much in common with present-day homemaker service ( U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, 1960, p. 1).
Although Breckinridge and Abbott ( 1912), in a study of the delinquent child, list "visiting housekeepers" as a service provided to families whose children were in danger of becoming delinquent (p. 173), the first organized homemaker program in the country is generally regarded as that established by the Jewish Family Welfare Society of Philadelphia in 1923. The purpose of the program was to provide housekeeper services to families during the temporary absence of the mother. The Jewish Home-Finding Society of Chicago inaugurated its housekeeper service in November 1924. This agency, on the basis of a standing arrangement with family welfare agencies and other welfare organizations of the community, had previously assumed responsibility for the care of children during the mother's absence from home. Prior to the introduction of housekeeping services, all such children had been placed with foster families. Because many of these children required only temporary care during the hos-