JUNE 27, 1945
HYDE PARK, Tuesday—I wonder how many of my readers saw the report made after a year's study by the National Commission on Children in Wartime. The members of this commission were appointed in 1942 and reappointed in 1944 by Miss Katharine Lenroot, chief of the Children's Bureau, U. S. Department of Labor. They were people who knew about child health, welfare and education. They belonged to organizations which worked in the interests of children. There were also representatives of government and labor in the group. They used, during their period of research and planning, the advice and assistance of the staff in the Children's Bureau.
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In the past, our Federal government has made grants of somewhere around 6 million dollars a year to state health departments for maternal and child health. The National Commission urges that this be raised to 50 million dollars at once. Similarly, they say that Federal support to state crippled children's agencies, which is now less than 4 million dollars a year, should be increased to 25 million dollars. In addition there should be a major increase in annual appropriations to state welfare departments, so that there may be state-wide coverage of child welfare agencies within the next ten years.
They have set goals to be obtained in every state, but these goals will not be obtained without aid. The commission says, for instance, that adequate medical care and health services should be given to mothers and to children from babyhood through adolescence. This means the establishment of health centers, clinics and hospital care for maternity patients. It means wide expansion of school health service in all schools, both academic and vocational. It does not mean a cursory examination and a notice sent to parents telling them what should be done, and no follow-up to find out if anything has been done. It means a dental care program, starting with children as they enter school and continuing through all their school years. It means a mental health program so that we will not examine young men of 18 in the future and find that four out of every ten have physical and mental handicaps.
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The foregoing is what the commission feels should happen merely in the health field. But they go into some more fundamental questions. They say there should be family insurance against loss of income from unemployment, disability, old age and death. There should be the widest kind of educational opportunity for every child according to the abilities that child develops. We have wasted a great deal of ability in the past by giving so little free higher education. A study should be made immediately of how this may be made available, regardless of income, to such children as show talent in various fields.