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Rehabilitation services for the chronically dependent family : a sample survey (Vancouver 1959) and a review of the coordinated community approach Coombe, Dorothy Louise

Abstract

Much concern is currently being expressed about those families who remain chronically dependent upon social agencies. Their problems are usually multiple and their pathology serious. They are believed to make disproportionate contribution to the incidence of juvenile delinquency, to perpetuate social disorders in the community, and they are certainly costly, in terms of time, money, and waste of human lives. Many health and welfare agencies have worked with them, often in a piecemeal and unproductive manner. The present study was initiated to secure and analyse facts about a local group, specifically in relation to family circumstances and to City Social Service operations. Social characteristics of the families, their special needs and problems, are reviewed. Services rendered and other agencies interested are tabulated. Relevant contemporary studies and experiments are drawn on (a) to compare findings, (b) to suggest guides toward rehabilitation of these families and toward prevention and control of family disorganization. Especially referred to are community surveys by Bradley Buell and Associates; the family-centered project conducted recently in St. Paul; an experiment in welfare administration, also of Minnesota; a county health program in London; and a local community (Vancouver) survey. The sample families reveal major problems; financial, health, and social maladjustment. Typically, most of the homes are broken. Of special significance to social workers, is the finding that the majority of the fathers in this group are absent, or intermittently out of the homes, because of social problems. Over eighty per cent of the parents have serious personality, behaviour or relationship difficulties. Despite the severe degree of social pathology, services rendered are mostly in relation to economic and health needs. Although numerous agencies are interested in the families, they have made negligible gains toward rehabilitation, and the future of their children must be deemed endangered. Exceptionally, a few families reveal some potentials for self-maintenance which need to be fostered. From the available information, the indications are (a) that new approaches in community planning and action are required,(b) that the City Social Service is in a favourable position to provide basic services, including intensive social case work and basic information about multi-problem families, which could stimulate public opinion and forward the development of constructive community programs. The majority of the community's "multi-problem families" could be identified through the City Agency. It is submitted that a demonstration project, under its administration, would be of momentous importance to its clientèle, and of impressive value to the community, toward the prevention and control of the "impacted" social ills which flourish in this multi-problem group.

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