The Evolution of Social Services
- The history of public welfare in the United States has been one of continuing change and growth. Prior to the 1900’s local governments collaborated with private charitable organizations to share responsibility for public assistance.
- But, as the nation’s economy became more industrial and the population more concentrated in urban areas, the need for social services grew beyond the means of local public and private authorities. State governments began to assume more responsibility for helping the needy, and by 1926 forty states had established some type of public relief program for mothers with dependent children. A few states also provided cash assistance to needy elderly residents through old-age pensions and a more complex social services collaboration began to evolve.
- However, the Great Depression of the 1930’s led to the collapse of state financed public relief programs. State systems were simply unprepared to cope with the volume of requests for help from individuals and families without work or income. On top of that, the economic depression reduced state and local revenues. Conditions were so grave it became necessary for the federal government to step in and help with the costs of public relief.
- The national government’s first significant initiative to help bail out state governments was the enactment of the Emergency Relief and Construction Act of 1932, and immediately after assuming office in 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed and then signed the Federal Emergency Relief Act (FERA). In its first year, FERA enabled the national government to distribute more than $1 billion to the states to shore up their existing public relief programs. A nationwide collaboration was launched.
- President Roosevelt sent a message to Congress on June 8, 1934, in which he outlined what he believed was necessary. “Our task of reconstruction does not require the creation of new and strange values. It is rather the finding of the way once more to known, but to some degree forgotten, ideals and values. If the means and details are in some instances new, the objectives are as permanent as human nature. Among our objectives I place the security of the men, women, and children of the Nation first. This security for the individual and for the family concerns itself primarily with three factors. People want decent homes to live in; they want to locate them where they can engage in productive work; and they want some safeguard against misfortunes which cannot be wholly eliminated in this man-made world of ours…”
A Highly Complex Modern Collaboration
With that inspirational message, President Roosevelt initiated the role of the federal government in the local work of offering the marginalized a leg up in their efforts to participate in modern society on equal footing. Almost 90 years later several major government agencies employ an army of social workers tasked with making this national collaboration function. Each of the departments under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, for example, is staffed with a battery of social workers toiling across disciplines to ultimately serve the complex needs of individual clients. This complex Federal system combined with the state and municipal agencies that function at the local level demonstrate how truly collaborative social services have become.
Technology Enables this Massive Modern Collaboration
At Global Vision Technologies, we created government software solutions for this purpose over 20 years ago and have continuously improved them. In fact, we are currently on our 15th version. Each version has resulted in higher performance, improved security, a streamlined interface, and intuitive functionality. We help local governments and municipalities break down silos across county and city lines so that critical information can be shared, and the values passionately stated by President Roosevelt almost 90 years ago can be realized. Once these silos are broken down, disparate databases are connected, and departments and communities can collaborate more efficiently than ever before. Innovation enables this massive collaboration. We are pleased and honored to be a part of our country’s social welfare evolution.