JULY 1, 1959
WASHINGTON—A few days ago I wrote you about a letter from a woman who lives near Philadelphia and unfortunately has a child who should attend a school for emotionally disturbed and retarded children. Her husband is a government employee at $5,000 a year, and she claimed that the one school she could find suitable for her purpose was the Woods School where the charges, she said, were $7,200 annually.
The school writes me that this is a mistake. And they want it corrected because they fear that many people would not inquire about their facilities at those rates. And having no endowment they must charge for the care of the children.
An authority of the school writes, "The present rates of $400 and $450 monthly will apply to our total population in September, 1959 .... One-eighth of our pupil population this year has enjoyed the benefits of some scholarship help, such funds coming from philanthropically minded people who believe in the integrity of our program.
"Further, we are entirely dependent on tuition for our operations as we have no endowment. We are engaged in an ongoing program of research in the field of mental retardation and emotional disturbance in children and are seeking funds to extend this effort."
I am quite sure that the woman who wrote to me was in no way critical of any charges made by this school and I am quite sure that what they charge they must charge in order to give the proper care.
The problem I was trying to bring out for my correspondent was the simple problem of the child needing this kind of care where the parents cannot afford any continuous high medical care for one child, without cutting down to a dangerous amount on what they can do for the home and the other children in the family. Great sacrifices are, of course, always made, and willingly made, to care for handicapped children, but it should not be done at the expense of the other children in the family.
Such schools as the Woods School need every possible support, especially for the research which they can do with financial assistance from those who realize the value of their work. But this does not meet the problem of the obligation of city and state to help care for such children as cannot be cared for by their own families.
I am told that a program at the Woods School's new child study, training, and research center should be of enormous help in meeting the the needs of this type of mentally handicapped children which must be met through research, training, treatment, education and rehabilitation. What is done at the Woods School and other similar private institutions is very helpful to any public institutions which might be established and which will probably not be able to carry out research and experiment to the same degree.