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The Evolution of Social Welfare and Social Work in the United States


The Evolution of Social Welfare and Social Work in the United States Chapter 2 Maintaining Government Responsibility NASW reaffirms the essential role of government ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Evolution of Social Welfare and Social Work in the United States

The Evolution of Social Welfare and Social Work
in the United States
  • Chapter 2

Maintaining Government Responsibility
  • NASW reaffirms the essential role of government
    in developing policies and programs that expand
    opportunities, address social and economic
    injustice and enhance social conditions of the
    nations communities.
  • Inhabitants of the United States live in a land
    of freedom wherein democracy and democratic
    processes are prevalent. Stress is on the
    interdependence of people in society, and it is
    generally recognized that the well-being of one
    person affects the well-being of neighbors and

  • The preamble of out Constitution, spelled out by
    the Founding Fathers, contains the immortal
    words, to promote the general welfare.
  • The worth of the human personality and the
    importance of individual adjustment and the
    well-being are significant aspects of the
    American way of life.

Social Welfare
  • Social welfare, according to The Social Work
    Dictionary, is a nations system of programs,
    benefits, and services that help people meet
    those social, economic, educational, and health
    needs that are fundamental to the maintenance of

  • President Kennedy, in his statement to Congress,
    stressed the importance of the family unit and
    its preservation.
  • He indicated that a united attack needed to be
    made on the problem of family breakdown, and then
    continued, unless such problems are dealt with
    effectively, they fester and grow, sapping the
    strength of society as a whole and extending
    their consequences in troubled families from one
    generation to the next.

European Roots
  • In 1536 a law was passed in England stating that
    alms collected by local authorities and by
    churches on Sundays were to help to relieve the
    sick and poor.
  • To deter people from openly begging, the law
    stipulated that the mayor of every town and the
    Church wardens of every parish were to collect
    alms every Sunday, holiday or festival in common
    boxes, which were then to be utilized by those
    in need.

  • This law marked the shift in poor relief from an
    ecclesiastical to a secular system.
  • The act had several significant provisions,
    including the illegality of begging,
    responsibility of society to help, assistance by
    and through the local community, and voluntary
    alms, with clerical assistance, but under the
    direction of the state.
  • In 1572 overseers of the poor were appointed as
    civil officers. The Parliamentary enactment at
    this time provided for a direct public tax for
    the purpose of assisting the poor and destitute.

  • The London Charity Organization Society was
    established in 1869.
  • It proposed
  • The coordination of the work of the various
    charitable societies in London so as to prevent
  • An acquaintance by each of the work of other
  • A bureau of registry for all cases
  • Personal service to promote independence of
    spirit rather than the giving a material aid
  • A devotion to measures for the prevention of

Elizabethan Poor Laws
  • An act was passed in 1598 and revised in 1601
    that provided a systematic plan for helping the
    poor and established a system of public
    responsibility implemented through local care.
  • The act of 1601 established legislation that
    differentiated three classes of the poor the
    able-bodied poor, who were to be provided with
    work, or with punishment is prison or the stocks
    if they refused to work the impotent poor, who
    were to be kept in almshouses and dependent
    children who were to be apprenticed unless
    parents or grandparents could support them.

  • For the dependent children group, the boys were
    to be apprenticed until they were twenty-four
    years old and the girls until they either
    twenty-one or married.
  • Monies to finance these laws were provided by
    taxes levied on lands, houses, and tithes, from
    money left for charitable purposes, and from
    fines levied for the breaking of certain laws.

  • The Elizabethan Poor Laws provided the basis for
    public social welfare in England with only minor
    changes until the Poor Law of 1834 was passed.
  • This act provided for centralized administration
    with a pattern of uniformity throughout the

Beginnings In the United States
  • In colonial days in America the basic pattern for
    assisting the poor and unfortunate followed the
    poor laws and activities of the mother country.
  • The first almshouses for the care of the poor and
    indigent was established in Massachusetts in
  • New York City had a city physician for the poor
    as early as 1687.

  • In 1644, the Boston Latin School was established
    and was the foundation underpinning free public
    education in this country.
  • Beginnings in the child welfare movement go back
    to 1729 in New Orleans when Ursuline Sisters
    established an institution for children of
    parents massacred by Indians.

  • In March 1841, the famous Dorothea Dix by chance
    visited the East Cambridge, Massachusetts, jail
    and was shocked at the deplorable treatment of
    the insane inmates.
  • She devoted the rest of her life to improving
    services for those who were mentally ill.
  • As the result of her campaign many state
    hospitals for the insane were established or
    enlarged and great improvements in treatment in
    poorhouses and jails took place.

  • In the latter part of the 18th century, a new
    system of prison discipline called the
    Pennsylvania System, was established.
  • This innovation provided for individualized
    attention and treatment of prisoners accompanied
    by housing in separate cells.
  • The new philosophy and practice were an attempt
    to treat and rehabilitate rather than merely to
    punish or seek retribution.

  • The first Charity Organization Society in the
    United States was established in Buffalo, New
    York, in 1877.
  • The function of this type of agency was urgent
    because of the numerous independent welfare
    agencies that were springing up and mushrooming
    in the population centers.

  • Closely allied to the community welfare council
    movement has been the one for federated drives,
    collecting money for several agencies at one
  • Historically the first such drive took place in
    Liverpool, England, in 1873, and the original one
    in the United States occurred in 1887,
    spearheaded by the Associated Charities in
  • In the last forty years the trend has been toward
    establishment of united fund agencies (now called
    United Way in many communities).

  • Another significant development in social
    services in America has been that of the social
    settlement house.
  • The first American settlement was organized in
    New York City in 1886, and three years later the
    most famous one, Hull House, was established by
    Jane Addams in Chicago.
  • These centers provided recreational, health and
    welfare needs of boys and girls, young men and
    women, particularly in deprived areas.

Public Assistance and Social Welfare Emerge
  • During the Great Depression numerous attempts
    were made to assist the poor and the unemployed
    and to bolster the economy.
  • Federal Emergency Relief Administration
  • The Works Progress Administration
  • The Civilian Conservation Corps

  • The monumental Social Security Act of 1935
    altered the total plan of helping persons in
  • First time the federal government assumed major
    responsibility in assisting the needy.

  • The major provisions of the act
  • A national old-age insurance system with survivor
    provisions added in 1939.
  • A federal-state unemployment insurance system.
  • Grants-in-aid to the states for old age
    assistance, aid to families of dependent children
    and aid to the blind.
  • Services for aiding maternal and child health,
    crippled children, child welfare, vocational
    rehabilitation, and public health measures.

  • Major significant changes were made in social
    security legislation in the enactment of Public
    Welfare Amendments of l962 Public Law 87-543.
  • The importance of preventive, protective, and
    rehabilitative services in public welfare was
    significantly recognized.
  • 75 of funding came from the federal government.

  • Medicare was established in l966 to provide
    economic security and protection against high
    costs of medical care.
  • Medicaid was enacted under Title XIX of the
    Social Security Act.
  • Volunteer programs (Peace Corps, VISTA) were
    developed to have impact in the areas of
    education and social welfare.

  • In 1972, social workers shifted from providing
    maintenance of social services to attempting to
    assist individuals and families with personal,
    family, and community problems.
  • Social welfare spending expanded from 14 billion
    to nearly 1,434 billion in l994.

  • The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity
    Reconciliation Act of l996 signed by President
    Clinton ushered sweeping changes to the nations
    public welfare system.
  • Loss of individual entitlement
  • Loss of an economic safety net for children and
    their families

  • The philosophy of the new act was based on the
    notion that the old welfare system had failed by
    creating an entire class of people in our society
    who would perpetuate dependency and an
    unproductive lifestyle.
  • Personal responsibility and work opportunity will
    be the themes of public welfare for at least the
    next decade.

  • At his inauguration, President Clinton emphasized
    the importance of change We must do what no
    generation has had to do before. We must invest
    more in our own people, in their jobs and in
    their future We must do what America does best
    offer more opportunity to all and demand more
    responsibility from all.

Services of Volunteers
  • In 1973 the United Way of America made a
    quantitative study of volunteer activities.
  • Findings
  • 2.4 billion volunteer persons-hours per year
  • 80 of volunteer activities were in the provision
    of direct services.

  • In 1988 contributions to voluntary organizations
    in the United States exceeded 100 billion, and
    80 million people volunteered a total of 14.9
    billion hours, worth at least another 150
  • By l995, it was reported that more than a third
    of the U.S. population 89 million people were
    participating in volunteerism.

Social Work Appears
  • In 1898 education for social work was initiated
    in a summer training course given by the Charity
    Organization Society of New York at Columbia
  • By 1921 the American Association of Social
    Workers was established.
  • In l955 the National Association of Social
    Workers was created.
  • This professional body now enrolls 160,000

  • Social workers today are employed in every kind
    of setting of social welfare.
  • They are given the more difficult tasks to
    perform and many gravitate to administrative and
    supervisory positions.
  • In 1974 the Council on Social Work Education
    approved the accreditation of the undergraduate
    programs in social work or social welfare with
    the understanding that they would be upgraded and
    would provide the first level of practice in
    social work.
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