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of administering the program but even if it were capable, the merit of the plan
If, after hearing the best judgment of these officials and experts, my OWn opinion as a layman concerned with child welfare is of any value, I would urge that the Children's Bureau should give greater attention to general over-all leadership in developing an awareness throughout the country of our obligations to all children, regardless of race, color, or creed. Under the act of April 9, 1912, establishing the Children's Bureau, the bureau is charged with the responsibility to “investigate and report * * * upon all matters pertaining to the welfare of children and child life among all classes Of our people, and shall especially investigate the question of infant mortality, the birthrate, orphanages, juvenile courts, desertion, dangerous occupations, accident and diseases of children, employment * * *.” This original mandate of the Children's Bureau is specifically protected under the reorganization plan as the prime function of the Children's Bureau under the direction and control of the Federal Security Administration. During the war the Children's Bureau neglected this all-important and fundamental reason for its existence. All of its spare energies went into the administration of emergency programs. Since it has taken on these arduous administrative functions, it has been led further and further away from its basic responsibility to develop an over-all program for child care. Instead of being concerned with a comprehensive, Nation-wide program utilizing all the facilities of Federal, States, and local governments, for the stabilization of the family and the protection of the child, it has lost itself in the petty details of its limited activities. These details have been worrisome to the State and local agencies through which the Children's Bureau operates and have prejudiced the opportunity of working out with them a cooperative attack on the destructive forces that impede our social progress. In a situation that demands a wholesale approach to a wholesale problem, the Children's Bureau has been absorbed by the petty details of a retail business. For example, the catastrophic effects of total war on the children of War workers were apparent to the whole country even before the War production program was in full swing. Yet it was not until nearly the end of the war, March 14, 1945, that Miss Lenroot appeared before the House Appropriations Committee and recommended the appropriation of $95,800 to make a study of the needs of children in critical war areas. She explained that this study was “urgently needed as a basis for understanding the extent and nature of the problems “ ” * and the measures devised to meet the problem.” The appropriation, if granted, would have become available on July 1, 1945—after VE-day. The request for this appropriation was rejected by the House Appropriations Committee as coming too late.
I, APSE OF FORESIGEIT
Obviously it was a bit late then to try to find out what should be done about children in war centers. Should the Children's Bureau not, as soon as the war production program sets millions of people in motion, have carried the torch throughout the country for the protection of our neglected war workers' children? Should it not have made the Congress aware of these needs before March 1945? Who knows how different our wartime care of children might have been if the Children's Bureau, even before the call to man the war factories went out, had had the vision to foresee and to warn the country that social protection of our war workers’ families would be essential.
Even now there are vast areas of our country where children have been so shockingly neglected for generations that their condition is pitiful. I have just described in the Washington Post the plight of the Latin-American children in the Southwest, of the Negro child throughout the South, of the miners' children in the Appalachian Mountain region. The Children's Bureau should be doing work of that sort throughout the country and not leave it to the press to call the attention of the country to these disgraceful blots on the Nation's honor. It might well be doing this now were it not still involved in the consideration of administrative operating minutiae.
To arouse the public to the needs of childhood as a whole, to lift our concepts of child care, to lead the States in formulating protective legislation, to improve the lamentable care of delinquent and dependent children in State institutions,
to focus all our education, health, and welfare facilities toward the well-being of the child—these are some of the all-important functions of the Children's Bureau. It is a high and sacred role to be the protectors and the protagonists of childhood. It is a role that can only be fulfilled by an agency of Government that has no axes to grind, no desire for power. The minute the Children's Bureau fights for its own personal aggrandizement, its motives are suspect. Its aim should be the welfare of children, not the authority of the Children's Bureau. Only if it is above the battle and holds aloft the highest objectives for all children, can it keep its role in our national life constructive. But such a role, conceived and carried out with disinterested vigor, would make the Children's Bureau the pivot of progress in the new coordinated Federal health and welfare program. The purpose, as I understand Senator Pepper's bill, is to attain for the Nation the coordinated health and welfare program that we all desire. But these objectives, which we all share, would be defeated by H. R. 3922. In its piecemeal approach, in its distortion of administrative arrangements, this bill would plant insuperable obstacles in our way, at the very moment when the prospect of a real national welfare program is in sight. Mrs. MEYER. But, we need not only the coordination of health and welfare programs. We need the integration of both with the public School system. Education is now seen as much more than instruction in reading, writing, and arithmetic. There is a Nation-wide growing tendency to see in education a social function that will give our children physical and emotional as well as mental development. The postwar unrest is even more trying to children than the chaotic war conditions, as is indicated by the ever-mounting number of youthful criminals and child delinquents. Piecemeal attacks on the social causes of bad health among the youth of the country, piecemeal attacks on the social causes of youthful crime and delinquency, are doomed to failure. What is needed is a coordinated community health, welfare, and educational program which will focus all of our local public and private welfare programs upon the school and the preschool child. Harnessing related activities; the coordination of these related activities on the Federal level will require study and consultation among the responsible officials. It will come about practically in response to the authority the reorganization plan gives the Federal Security Administrator, and the obligation it places upon him to build an integrated agency to deal with such acute social problems as I have outlined. He must be free and empowered to weld together the variety of services which are provided by each of the several Federal agencies which have heretofore operated with relative independence and in isolation, one from the other. Their respective desires and ambitions to maintain their independence and separation should manifestly be disregarded since it can be maintained only at the expense of those for whom their many services are created. In building the integrated new department, the Federal Security Administrator must take care to clarify the Federal-State relationship. He must keep in mind the administrative independence of State and localities since health, education, and welfare services can never be succesfully administered except on a local basis. Because of the urgent need for the integration of these social services, I wish to urge the approval of Reorganization Plan No. 2. It is a first essential step toward the establishment of a national Department of Health, Education, and Welfare with Cabinet rank. Such a national department is needed to ennoble those services in the eyes of the people. Moreover, only a Cabinet officer would have the prestige to give the various Federal agencies and the country the dynamic
social leadership we need in a period of great upheaval. Only an official of this caliber and rank can lead all the States and their communities in the development of standards of health, education, and welfare services worthy of our democratic American ideals. This Cabinet officer can and must join with the State officials in pointing out to Congress the need for legislation to provide Federal aid for essential services and for equality of opportunity throughout the country for all of our citizens regardless of race, color, or creed. If such a democratic objective became a reality, its mere possibility would have the greatest psychlogical effect upon our distressed and confused population. It would tend immediately to hold out new hopes of security; it would soften racial, religious, and class rivalry. Eventually it would forge a social solidarity that would check the dangerous, ever growing isolation of the individual, in our migratory, trailer-minded civilization. The new Cabinet officer; as a result of the report called the Road to Community Reorganization, which I have already mentioned, a bill has been drafted for submission to Congress under bipartisan auspices “to create an executive department of the Government to be known as the Department of Education, Health, and Welfare.” This bill has been submitted to the Federal agencies, including the Bureau of the Budget, for criticism. It has received the attention and support of many national religious, educational, health, and welfare organizations. For example, the Federation of Women’s Clubs and the CIO labor unions have taken great care to educate all of their local divisions on the merits of the reorganization plan. It awaits only senatorial and congressional sponsorship to be introduced into Congress. I cannot recommend too urgently that it come up for hearings as soon as possible. I am convinced that the rapid and efficient expansion of our educational, health, and welfare systems throughout the land along lines that have long been accepted and are familiar to us, will give the Congress a little more time to consider carefully its permanent plans for medical care and the extension of social insurance to all people. Personally, I am convinced that the best medical care is prevention and the best social insurance is education. Both can be brought to the people if our Federal and State governments collaborate in a wellrounded program of community organization. The new Cabinet officer should be an outstanding executive, a person with appreciation of the professional skills in each area and therefore an ability to coordinate the social implications of these programs in terms of general human well-being. He should have at his disposal a research staff of the best and most progressive minds in the country, people with vision and courage, who realize that in self-defense we must achieve throughout the Nation ever-improving standards of education, health, and welfare. I should like to urge that the first administrator of this important post be a man rather than a woman, as has been frequently suggested. The fields of education and welfare are already overfeminized. Only through a proper balance of male and female influences can a strong democratic system of culture be achieved. We emphasize an already serious weakness in our educational system and in welfare work by
placing a woman in charge of the development of the Federal programs. If the formulation of this new integrated department is entrusted to a man, the President can readily change the tradition in the future by the appointment of a woman. On the other hand, if the first Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare is a woman, it will establish a dangerous precedent that can be set aside only with difficulty. The goals we strive for; this is a moment in our national history when we must be courageous, creative, and imaginative. Especially is such courageous and creative imagination essential in the fields of education and welfare for they are concerned with the quality of human existence. We have already lengthened the span of life by 10 or 15 years. We must now devote our administrative, social, and scientific knowledge to improving its quality. If we are going to preserve human life, let it be worth preserving, capable of happiness, of self-expression, and of service to others. The ultimate destiny of any nation is determined by the physical, mental, and moral fibre of its people. We have no time to lose. I urge that you approve without delay the President's proposals for the modernization of our welfare machinery. The pressure within the country for Social progress, for greater equality of opportunity is irresistible. The education which millions of our citizens have gained from their war experiences at home and abroad has set a ferment in motion that will not come to rest unless the hopes aroused in many breasts not merely for security but for a better and richer existence, are recognized as legitimate and given the fulfillment which they deserve. What we Americans do now to satisfy these popular aspirations and to strengthen democracy will determine not only our own future but the future of the world for generations to come. The CHAIRMAN. Thank you. You have made a very brilliant presentation. I was interested in your observations about the conditions in the South. It has occurred to me that if the United Nations practiced the same methods with reference to Germany and Japan, we might not have a war over there in another hundred years, because the South was certainly well occupied immediately after the Civil War and for years and years up to the present time, and we have been looked upon as the stepchild of our Nation. What do you think about that policy with reference to Germany and Japan? Mrs. MEYER. I was thrilled by my journey through the South, Mr. Chairman, the amount of good work that is going on there. The leaders down there recognize their problems and they are making a coordinated attack on it in every State that I was in. But, they lack funds to do the things that they see they must do, and they want to do. For instance, the president of the southern division of the Methodist women, they had called a big conference to handle the problem of the veteran, and she pointed out to me that in Mississippi alone they had gone to the number of 80,000 negro veterans, and at present they have 24 places in their whole State educational system for those negro veterans. The CHAIRMAN. You, of course, realize that in most Southern States, a larger portion of our tax funds go into education than any other region in the country?
Mrs. MEYER. I said so in this statement, because it is true. They have been heroic about doing it. The CHAIRMAN. One of our difficulties has been that we do not have enough industries down there to absorb our population that increases faster than any other section of the country. They have to move in the larger urban centers in the North and East. Mrs. MEYER. One thing I would like to point out about Federal aid to the South. It looks as if it is not a permanent thing. If Federal aid is given to those States so that their boys and girls can grow up with skills for industry and with greater skill in agriculture, the States will become more productive, because the more skilled people you have down there, the more industries will go to , those people. Therefore, the States will have a higher income, higher tax rates, and they will be able gradually through getting greater productiveness, to take over more and more of their own educational responsibilities. That is why I consider Federal aid one of the soundest investments that we can make. The CHAIRMAN. Of course, there are some blessings in an agricultural economy. They usually eat. We do not have the tragedies that follow the shutting down of industries in some of your larger industries. Mrs. MEYER. They could eat a lot better if they knew how to use their soil. . ows. Who do you propose to send down there to teach these people rs. MEYER. You do not need to send anybody down there. You only need to give them a chance to go to it. They know what they Want. / Mr. GIBSON. I think they have been doing a pretty good job. Mrs. MEYER. I do too. I think they have done a magnificent job. Mr. GIBSON. You consider New York State a progressive State, do you not? Mrs. MEYER. In some respects, and in some respects I do not. Mr. GIBSON. Let me say something to you that is as true as any statement that has ever been made. I saw more misery, more filth, more poverty and stench in Brooklyn in 1 day than I have ever seen in the South in my life. Mrs. MEYER. The slums all over our country are a disgrace. They are not necessary. The point I make is this great welfare program does not reach those people. It does not reach them in New York City any more than any place else. It just needs to get to work. Mr. GIBSON. I think so too. Mrs. MEYER. Do not think I am criticizing the South. I am so enthusiastic about the South that I want them to help get what they want and then there is a chance to go ahead. As far as the liberalism of the South, I think it is more on the ball, more practical, and also more sincere, if less articulate than any liberal groups in the North. Mr. JUDD. Is that because it has not had much Federal resources from the Government? Mrs. MEYER. It is because they have had to work and fight. Mr. JUDD. Precisely. . It would not have happened if they had had leadership from the Federal Government. Mrs. MEYER. You can go just so far with leadership. There comes a point when you need dollars and cents.