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WILBUR J. COHEN, MEMBER, WELFARE POLICY COMMITTEE, AMERICAN PUBLIC WELFARE ASSOCIATION
HON. THOMAS J. S. WAXTER, DIRECTOR, MARYLAND STATE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE
MRS. MARIE D. LANE, WASHINGTON REPRESENTATIVE, AMERICAN PUBLIC WELFARE ASSOCIATION
Mr. MARSHALL. We will next hear from the American Public Welfare Association. Mrs. Lane, the Washington representative, has been before the committee before, so you are somewhat familiar with our procedure here. Mrs. LANE. I am not going to appear today, sir. Instead, members of our welfare policy committee are appearing, Mr. Cohen and Mr. Waxter. Mr. MARSHALL. Mrs. Lane is an old friend of this committee and does an excellent job, we think. We are glad you are here even if you aren’t making a statement for us today. Mr. Cohen, we will be glad to hear from you.
STATEMENT OF MER. WILBUR J. COHEN
Mr. CoHEN. I am Wilbur J. Cohen, professor of public welfare administration at the University of Michigan. I am here as a member of the welfare policy committee of the American Public Welfare Association. I was for 22 years connected with the Social Security Administration, having left in 1956, as Director of Research and Statistics of that organization. Judge Waxter is here with me—Thomas J. S. Waxter, director of the State Department of Public Welfare of Maryland. I have a prepared statement which I would like to put in the record and I will be glad to talk briefly from various parts of it. Mr. DENTON. You may put it in the record. (The statement referred to follows:)
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I appreciate the opportunity of appearing before you to testify with respect to the 1959 appropriations for public assistance, child welfare, and social security. I am a member of the welfare policy committee of the American Public Welfare Association, which association I represent here today.
The American Public Welfare Association is a national nonpartisan organization of local and State public welfare departments and of individuals engaged in public welfare at all levels of government. Its membership includes State and local welfare administrators, board members, and welfare workers from every jurisdiction. Within the association are a number of national councils including a council representing all State administrators of public welfare, a council of local administrators of public welfare, a council of members of State and local boards of public welfare, and a council of child-welfare directors. We have six regional conferences each year and a nationwide meeting in alternate years at which we discuss current issues in public welfare and obtain the views of the membership. As a result of these discussions the board of directors, representing all parts of the country, adopts official policy positions on issues of current significance for public welfare.
The agencies and individuals making up the membership of the American Public Welfare Association are charged with the responsibility for administering the various assistance and service programs in public welfare under the several titles of the Social Security Act. In our membership are the people who have the responsibility for day-to-day administration of the programs for the needy o; the needy blind, the needy disabled, needy dependent children, and child WeIIare. Through our organization, we work toward constructive ways to help restore as many persons as possible in the public-assistance caseload to self-care and selfsupport. Our members seek through protective, preventive, and rehabilitative services to help solve the problems of children and families who request the services of public welfare departments. We are constantly seeking ways to make our services more effective and to improve the caliber of administration in public welfare programs. We have been in the forefront of those groups which have advocated broadening and strengthening our existing social insurance programs. We believe that the Congress should take further action to improve the social insurance program and thus further to reduce financial dependency. Because of the inadequacies in our social insurance programs, appropriations from general revenues for assistance are higher than would otherwise be necessary.
PROPOSED PUBLIC ASSISTANCE APPROPRIATION INADEQUATE
The budget request for Federal grants to States for public assistance is, in our opinion, inadequate. The request for $1,806,400,000 is made up of $1,681,400,000. for assistance payments and $125 million for administration and services. From reports we have obtained directly from State agencies, we believe the requested amounts are too low and should be increased. The serious unemployment problem has increased public assistance caseloads. Today there are about 6.2 million persons receiving public assistance of whom 5.3 million are on federally aided programs. In November 1956 there were 5.7 million persons receiving public assistance of whom 5.1 million were on federally aided programs. In addition, expenditures have increased because of the rise in the cost of living. Medical care costs have risen for 40 consecutive months. Medical care is an important factor in eligibility for public assistance. Medical care costs have been rising twice as fast as the overall cost of living while hospital costs have risen nearly four times as fast as the general price rise. The budget submitted to you was based upon economic and business conditions during the last half of 1957. All the evidence now indicates higher caseloads, particularly in aid to dependent children. This will also require additional administrative personnel. Based upon present knowledge, the appropriation estimates. for both aid to dependent children and administration appear to be understated. We feel that we would be remiss in our responsibilities if we did not emphasize to you that current economic conditions are having the effect of increasing the number on the public-assistance programs. The unemployed employables are generally not eligible for assistance under the categories of old-age assistance, aid to the blind, aid to dependent children, or aid to the permanently and totally disabled. The State and local governments, therefore, are having to appropriate increased funds to provide minimum help for the families involved. The federally aided categories also are showing the effects of current conditions, especially as relatives are unable to contribute to support their parents. Individuals with physical disabilities and educational limitations who are able to support their families when business conditions are good are often the first to be laid off and thus become eligible for assistance. Working mothers who are normally the . support of their families soon apply for aid to dependent children.
THE OPEN-END APPROPRIATION
We would not be so concerned about the exact amount of the appropriation if the Congress adheres to the policy of open-end appropriations for public assistance. But, on two recent occasions, attempts have been made to modify the statutory authority in the basic law and to modify the moral obligation to pay the full Federal share. The American Public Welfare Association has gone on record in opposition too any type of closed-end appropriation for public-assistance administration in the Federal appropriations bill whether it be in dollars or in terms of a percentage of payments. The most recent policy statement on this point, adopted by the board of directors, reads as follows: “The continuation of a Federal open-end appropriation is essential to a sound State-Federal fiscal partnership in the field of public assistance. Since it is not possible to predict accurately the incidence and areas of need, flexibility is neces-sary in financing public-assistance programs.” We believe that a closed-end appropriation is directly contrary to the basiclong-range policy Congress wrote into the Social Security Act. We believe that. it is not in accord with sound Federal-State relationships for the Congress to change the regulations under which we operate in the various jurisdictions just before the new fiscal year. Most State legislatures will have adjourned by the time the appropriation bill becomes law. Estimates by these States of their needs for State and local administrative funds for the coming fiscal year, or for the coming biennium, have been based upon continuation of the basic Federal statute which provides for 50–50 matching of administrative costs. Splendid Federal-State cooperation and mutual confidence in the administration of publicassistance programs have been built up during the past 23 years by strict adherence to the legal and moral responsibilities of both levels of government. A unilateral change may seriously impair this relationship. We request your support for the continuation of the open-end policy in administrative funds in the present law. We know that there is room for improvement in the administration of public assistance just as there is in any governmental program. We do know, however, that as long as the States and localities are paying one-half of the total cost of administration and service for these programs we have built-in protection for Federal funds. State and local appropriations are closely scrutinized by the appropriating bodies. We believe that the partnership principle set up in the law should be carried out without other arbitrary limitations. Any abrupt change may adversely affect the welfare of the more than 5 million persons receiving public assistance. With the rising cost of administration of all governmental programs due to factors beyond our control, any limitation at this time will work hardships in most if not all States. Staffs will have to be reduced. Visiting services to clients will have to be curtailed with little possibility of expanding services as provided so clearly in the 1956 amendments. The adequacy of investigations with regard to financial need will be affected, an unsound business proposition. In fact, the administration of the public-assistance programs can only be jeopardized by such a restrictive step. For those States which have local administration of public assistance and which have a sizable contribution toward local administration from city and county. governments, a Federal ceiling will in turn make it necessary for the States to impose ceilings upon the counties. In other words, this matter of control would mean not only more Federal control of State operations but, inevitably, more State control of local operations. Thus the philosophy of government and the principles involved are found to be of as much or more significance than the question of the actual amount of money. In reviewing the total situation and the grave problems inherent in any change at this time for the States, we recommend that you retain the flexibility so wisely incorporated in the basic law, a flexibility which has been tested by 22 years of experience.
TRAINING AND RESEARCH FUNDS
Social-security payments now total over $20 billion annually, of which $3. billion is for public assistance. These amounts are increasing.
Yet, the amounts being spent for training of qualified workers in public assistance and for research in reducing dependency are very small. We believe an investment in these programs will pay dividends.
TRAINING OF PUBLIC WELFARE PERSONNEL
The American Public Welfare Association urges inclusion in the 1959 appropriation bill of the $2% million requested by the President and the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in 1958 to increase and improve the supply of professionally trained welfare personnel. The shortage of trained workers is serious. If the number and quality of trained personnel can be increased, we shall be in a far sounder position to help more recipients of public assistance to help themselves through becoming able to take care of themselves, or to become self-supporting, or to strengthen family life.
The problems involved in obtaining and retaining adequately trained personnel for the administration of public assistance programs is becoming more acute every day. The competition for personnel trained primarily in the social work field from business and from private agencies is serious. Our personnel carry heavy responsibilities. Individual workers in some States have a caseload which involves payments of over $100,000 per year. We need well-qualified workers to carry this kind of responsibility, responsibility not only for the proper determination of the recipients of such large sums of money but also responsibility to help. those recipients help themselves.
In 1954, because of the high turnover rate, about one-fourth of all persons in public assistance social work positions were new to their jobs. Their educational qualifications were slightly lower than those of the workers who had left. The same situation persists today. And the educational qualifications of practically all of the workers are lower than is sound in order to do the most effective job. We need better trained personnel in our programs. The States are eager to put into operation the 1956 authorization for the training of public assistance workers.
The Congress has made available substantial amounts for training in the public health field, in the mental health field, and in vocational rehabilitation over a period of several years. It appears time that the fundamental services available through public welfare should also be strengthened through the provision of funds for staff training. The most serious problems of individuals and families in the community come eventually to the public welfare department. We need trained personnel fully to understand the needs of those individuals and families and then to work with them in terms of providing resources to help meet their needs and in turn to provide services as constructively as possible. For these reasons, we urge you to include a $2% million appropriation for training of public assistance workers in the 1959 bill now under consideration.
RESEARCH AND DEMONSTRATION PROJECTS TO MINIMIZE DEPENDENCY
The 1956 amendments to the Social Security Act authorize $5 million for cooperative research and demonstration projects to learn more about the causes of dependency and to find more effective means of dealing with this problem. The President and the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare requested $2,080,000 for the implementation of these areas in 1958 for the first year of operation. Our association believes that this is a far-reaching and significant approach to the whole problem of dependency in our society, and we urge you to include this appropriation in the 1959 bill.
As administrators, we constantly find ourselves faced with questions to which we do not know the full answers. If we knew more about why families break down, why some children become delinquent, how better to motivate dependent persons to become more self-reliant, and the answers to similar questions, we could provide far more constructive services for dealing with the problem of dependency. We seek ways and means of preventing the basic problems with which we deal. Too long has our approach been of necessity ameliorative in focus rather than preventive and rehabilitative.
This committee has every right to take pride in its accomplishments in advancing medical science and medical care through providing for basic medical and health research in the National Institutes of Health. The results have been and will continue to be of tremendous significance. We are requesting that you invest a very small amount in relation to the investment in medical research in the broad field of social research to help us understand better the social and economic problems of individuals and families with which we deal and to help us find ways to provide more effective types of services to help people lead more productive lives and to help themselves in every way possible.
RESEARCH AND PROGRAM PLANNING IN OFFICE OF THE COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY
We wish to commend the subcommittee for the increases it included in the 1958 appropriation bill for the Office of the Social Security Commissioner. We believe these increases were desirable. However, as already pointed out, we are spending as a Nation over $20 billion for social security and are expending only a relatively small amount on how to improve our social-security programs and minimize the need for assistance. We urge that you expand the resources of the Commissioner's office to prepare the necessary research reports needed by Congress, the States, and the American people for the constructive and intelligent development of all our social-welfare programs. Particular attention needs to be paid to various proposals for modernization of the old-age, survivors and disability insurance program, the public assistance programs, and for hospitalization insurance.
CHILD WELFARE FUNDS
While we endorse the $10 million recommended for child welfare services, we should like to point out that the Social Security Act authorizes an appropriation of $12 million annually. The American Public Welfare Association, on the basis of its knowledge of child welfare conditions throughout the country, believes the full $12 million is needed for fiscal 1959, in view of the increased numbers of children and the rising price level.
There are over 65 million children under the age of 18 at the present time. This number is increasing at about 1 million annually. By 1965 the number is ‘estimated to be 70 million. For the past several years over 4 million babies have been born annually.
We need to be able to provide specialized care as needed to children who are not developing normally whether it be physically, mentally, or emotionally. We are concerned about greater protection for children who become available for adoption. We know that it is economically sounder in terms both of dollars and cents and of the welfare of children to provide basic services needed by children so that they will not get into trouble and come before the courts as delinquents. We know that we need far sounder planning so that we may provide the particular type of care which a given child needs at a given time, whether it be within his own home, within a good foster home, or within a carefully selected institutional setting. These are essential if the welfare of children is to be protected. Amounts of money involved in child welfare services are of small account in relation to the total Federal budget. In terms of the welfare of children, they are of inestimable importance.
SALARIES AND EXPENSES
In regard to the items listed under salaries and expenses for the programs administered by the Bureau of Public Assistance and the Children's Bureau, there are many gaps in the type of information, particularly in the knowledge of the various methods followed by States in carrying out their responsibilities, such as, for instance, the medical-care provisions in the 1956 amendments. We feel it is important to have more work done by the Bureau of Public Assistance and the Children's Bureau to make available promptly to States public welfare staff information of this kind together with a comparative analysis of States' efforts in many of the highly complicated aspects of the health and welfare programs. This is the type of work which can be done most economically by the Federal staff and, in some respects, the Federal agency is the only source of this information.
In conclusion, may I again point out that the 1956 Social Security Amendments greatly increased the responsibilities of State and local departments of public welfare. These amendments expand services directed toward self-support and self-care, provide for services for the maintenance and preservation of family life, provide for medical services for needy individuals, and establish programs for the training of personnel and for research into the problems of dependency. These amendments were adopted less than 2 years ago and have been heralded throughout this country. In our opinion, they are highly significant amendments. We ask that you now implement them through this appropriation bill. We in the American Public Welfare Association, through our official responsibilities in the States and localities, deal each day with thousands of needy persons and families who apply for financial assistance and for a broad range of services. We know the problems of needy and troubled people at first hand, people who cannot manage in our complex civilization without help. It is because of this experience and the fact that we know that we can strengthen the kinds of services which they require and in turn strengthen our human resources that we request this committee: (1) to appropriate the full amount authorized for child welfare services; (2) to appropriate the full amount needed to State and local assistance payments, administrative and service costs so that we may continue our well established Federal-State partnership in administration; o to appropriate funds for the training of public assistance personnel; 8.I) (4) to appropriate funds for research and demonstration projects to investigate causes of dependency and more effective ways of dealing with this basic problem.
Mr. CoHEN. As you know, the American Public Welfare Association represents the organization of all local and State public welfare departments and individuals engaged in public welfare at all levels of Government.