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Authors

Silberman

Abstract

There are two distinct orientations within the American social welfare system. The first orientation is a bureaucratic one in which heteronomous agencies are committed to a set of externally imposed regulations designed to provide relief to individuals who require some form of assistance in order to survive (Blau, 1965; Friedlander, 1968: 258-284; Wilensky and Lebeaux, 1965:233-282). Assistance usually takes the form of monetary grants. The second orientation is professional in character (Meyer, 1959). In many agencies, priority is given to the provision of the rehabilitative services to which professionally trained social workers are committed in principle and to which nonprofessionals, after years of dedication to the humanitarian tradition, may also be committed (Thomas, 1959; Wilensky and Lebeaux, 1965:283- 334). Most directors of public assistance agencies agree that too much emphasis is given to financial assistance and not enough to family counselling, child welfare, mental health and addiction programs. Since there are limited resources available to each agency, agencies that give priority to rehabilitative services must be organized to maximize the amount of time and personnel allocated to these services and minimize the amount of time and personnel allocated to providing financial assistance.

Based on a questionnaire administered to a stratified national sample of directors of county public assistance agencies, this paper reports the results of research designed to study the distribution of agency activities implementing either relief or rehabilitation goals. The purpose of the paper is to analyze the effects of bureaucratization and professionalization on the distribution of these activities and on the evaluation of agency effectiveness in helping to meet clients' needs. Since the questionnaire was designed and administered prior to the current development of the separation of rehabilitative services and relief activities into differentiated administrative systems, the findings reported in this study are specific to problems associated with the delivery of unseparated social services. Once the development of separated social services is complete, it should be possible to compare the effects of differentiated and undifferentiated administrative systems on the delivery of social services to the economically deprived.

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