Services for the newly dependent: An assessment

Mullen, Edward Joseph; Chazin, Robert M.; Feldstein, David M.

The number of people receiving public assistance in the United
States rose from an estimated 6.2 million persons in 1950 to 14.4
million in February 1971-two decades of unparalleled economic
growth. It was in this climate that the Community Service Society of
New York (CSS) and the City Department of Social Services (DSS)
in November 1966 undertook a service demonstration to test an
approach to helping newly dependent public assistance families.
This article reports the results of that demonstration.
This effort began with the assumption that many families receiving
public assistance for the first time were in need not only of
financial help but also of skilled individualized counseling. It was
assumed that many of these families would be applying for public
assistance because of serious personal and social problems in
addition to their economic situations. That is, families would be
seeking help following crises such as death, marital dissolution, job
loss, and so forth. In such situations it was proposed that skilled
individualized counseling would help families cope with their feelings
and changed situations and, over time, would facilitate their
adjustment. It was expected that many of these families would need
help finding and using community resources, such as low-cost health
services, housing, employment, and job-training programs. Unless
individualized professional casework was made available in addition
to financial assistance, it was thought that many of these families
would be unable to deal effectively with these problems. Some
critics of the public welfare system suggested that the absence of
professional counseling services was contributing to the rapidly
growing public welfare rolls. They held that the situations leading to
a family's need for public assistance were not usually dealt with by
the current welfare system, with the result that many families that
could otherwise return to independent functioning remained chronically
on public assistance. The effects of this chronic dependency
and absence of needed services were viewed as detrimental both to
society and to the individuals involved. In line with this view, it was
held that professional social caseworkers were especially equipped,
through their dual skills in personal counseling and environmental
intervention, to provide needed services.



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Social Service Review

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Academic Units
Social Work
University of Chicago Press
Published Here
February 13, 2015