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História, Ciências, Saúde-Manguinhos

Print version ISSN 0104-5970

Hist. cienc. saude-Manguinhos vol.19 no.2 Rio de Janeiro Apr./June 2012 



The lives of children and their public intimacy: social work as a new factor in attending to the needs of children in Latin America, 1928-1948*



Eduardo Silveira Netto Nunes

Professor at Universidade de Passo Fundo. Largo Padre Péricles, 74/comp. 61 - 011560-040 - São Paulo - SP - Brazil




The professionalization of attention to the needs of children, which has taken place during the course of the twentieth century in areas such as health, education, law and social assistance, underwent an important conceptual development in the first decades of the twentieth century. In the field of social assistance, the structuring of the area of social services marked the introduction of a new variable in formulating policies and practices towards children. This article examines how the subject of social services was discussed, in the context of the American continent, at the Pan American Child Congresses which took place between 1928 and 1948, when its development was proposed as a new tool for social policies, especially for those directed towards children.

Keywords: history of Latin America; social assistance; social services; children; Pan American Child Congress.



One of the principal tools for attending to the needs of children, not restricted to the sphere of social assistance, which was developed during the early decades of the twentieth century and emphasized more strongly during the second half of the century, was the institution of the profession of social assistant or social worker.1

In this paper, I examine how this institution has been treated within the approach to the problems of childhood in Latin America as expressed in the Pan American Child Congresses (hereafter referred to as PCCs in the plural and PCC in the singular), 1928-1948. By this means it is possible to see the establishment of the professional and scientific activities of social work in the Americas, especially in Latin American countries, as part of the process of social reforms directed towards the life of children during the period.

For this purpose, my basic source material has been a selection of the papers presented and the resolutions approved at the congresses occurring between 1928 and 1948, highlighting the development of concepts in the area of social services within the new ideas of social security. I have indicated the two traditions within this professional field (one more concerned with health, the other more linked to the social sphere), their principal methodologies (social diagnosis, individual or group case), their relationship with new areas of intervention oriented towards children and poor families, and their expansion through the establishment of specialist schools for training social workers.

Although PCCs have taken place since 1916, the emphasis on the period following 1928, the year of the Fifth PCC in Havana, Cuba, is due to the fact that it was at that meeting that the topic of social service and the importance of its establishment on a professional basis was brought into a full debate on the reform and organization of the new social services. In other words, the social worker has been identified as a fundamental component in projects for tackling child problems in Latin America since 1928, within the context of the PCCs. The choice of 1948, the year of the Ninth PCC, in Caracas, Venezuela, as the final date for our examination, is connected with certain internal and external factors relating to the congresses. The internal factors are connected with the profound changes in the way subsequent PCCs operated, because, from meetings which brought together vast numbers of participants, official or unofficial, involved in dealing with children or interested in certain aspects of childhood, they came to be composed of a much smaller and more selective number of participants, who were essentially representatives of regional governments. After 1948, from constituting a huge stage for multi-disciplinary contributions from all those concerned with the innumerable aspects of childhood, the PCCs became a more restricted forum, intended for national public bodies concerned with assistance to, or protection of, children.

The external factors are connected with the increasing professionalization of areas dealing with children, among them social services, which by the end of the 1940s were already well defined. As far as social workers are concerned, this professionalization manifested itself in the proliferation of many training schools in various Latin American countries, such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela (Nunes, 2011, p.105). The creation of its own specialist institutions for the interchange of ideas and advances in the field of social services, at an inter-American level, with the periodical staging, as from 1945, of the Pan American Social Services Congresses (Manrique Castro, 2010, p.157, 158), was a further reason for this final cut-off point. The space which the PCCs occupied in the first half of the twentieth century as an important stage for social services topics in Latin America was usurped by the schools and by the social services congresses, where specialist subjects took on an increased autonomy and importance, no longer being contained solely within the PCCs.

It should be noted that the PCCs, which started in 19162, still take place today, each congress being held in a different country of the Americas. The initial aim was to bring together government representatives and personnel specializing or involved in dealing with children and mothers, such as doctors, teachers, lawyers, charity officials, sponsors, publicists, sociologists and politicians, to debate the problems of childhood in all their forms and to propose new spheres of action for national policy makers and participating institutions, with the aim of constructing a more 'civilized' and 'orderly' future, where, as was said at the time, the subject of intervention would be exactly the most manageable raw material, namely childhood.

The lines along which the debates were conducted and the governmental recommendations approved at the Congresses generally focused on the main areas such as health, education, rights and social security, and dealt with subjects such as reductions in infant mortality; hygiene education; raising moral standards in traditional practices; the spread of a productive work ethic; the expansion of education; female and special education; the absorption of indigenous peoples; skills training; the rights of children and young people; the reform of the existing child and poor family care services and the organization of public systems - with private participation - for health, social security and social care; the development of specialties and professionals concerned with child problems - pediatricians, juvenile court magistrates, social workers, psychologists, children's teachers - and of the institutions where such professionals work.

Between 1916 and 1948, the PCCs brought together around 540 representatives or official delegates from the various countries in the region; 3,285 subscribers or attendees; and 385 institutions represented by 587 delegates. The largest numbers of delegates, attendees and participants cane from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Mexico, Uruguay and the United States. Other countries in the region also took part in the gatherings, but in a less systematic and deliberate way (Nunes, 2011, p.50, 54, 59). This attendance gave the PCCs an important and leading role in the debates on policies regarding childhood matters which would be adopted in Latin American countries in the first half of the twentieth century.

The PCCs have received attention from researchers such as Donna Guy (1998a, 1998b), who has seen in them the emergence of a Pan American movement uniting many activists and social reformers, with an important role played by feminists who argued for the establishment of the rights of children and mothers in Latin American countries, through the issue of a Children's Code. Guy has also noted the establishment of welfare policies for children and poor families, in which the role of the social worker was vital. Iglesias, Villagra and Barrios (s.d.), in their study, have presented an overview of the PCCs from 1916 to 1984, by identifying, from the resolutions passed, the main concepts at each stage, and have produced a small 'vocabulary' of the most recurrent key words, dividing them into three periods: the first, that of the "impure child," from 1916 to 1935, made frequent references to race and to proposals for its amelioration; the second, that of the "dangerous child" from 1942 to 1968, emphasized the allegedly anti-social behavior of children and adolescents and the need to confront it by means of interventionist policies with regard to poor children and their families; and the third, that of the "child on the wall," showed a concern with extreme poverty and urban violence and the measures to deal with them. The study by Nunes (2011) is concerned with examining the development of the movement to tackle child problems in Latin America through the first nine PCCs and seeks to highlight the conceptual proposals which were presented in each area (social security, rights, education, health) to reform the lives of children and construct a new mode of living for them, in addition to prioritizing professional qualifications and specializations for working with children.

It is in this new environment of debates with regard to reforms involving poor children and their families that social services became the object of attention from the PCCs, and were identified as a new and different instrument which was capable of contributing to changes in the social policies directed at children and their families. It was a novelty which answered the requirements of a time of change, because it was scientific, methodical, incisive and apparently produced results.

The field of activity of social work sought to get closer to the actual daily living conditions of children, revealing family structures, social situations and degrees of risk, for which reason it was seen as a different tool from the existing ones, springing from the desire to reform the assistance then available to poor children and their families. The aim of its procedures was to diagnose problematical situations and to propose to the relevant institutions - juvenile courts, departments of child health, schools, social security organizations, among many others - courses of action which might be applied in the case of the families and/or the children or adolescents thus diagnosed.

The social worker was identified in a new way as the principal link between public policy and the individual children and their families, and she became the competent professional to make an in-depth study of the daily life of poor children and their families. Her function was preventative, in the sense of avoiding possible maladjustments from becoming more serious problems; in addition, she was concerned to ensure the best possible use of available institutional resources to attend to a pre-selected clientele 'in need' of particular treatment or care. Such activities therefore defined the services of caring for poor children and their families, sometimes for the benefit of both of them, sometimes as a way of limiting and controlling their way of life by imposing on poor families more decisive state action (for example, by removing a child from the family environment and placing him or her in a children's home).

Social services were, and still are, characterized by the predominance of women at the head of their activities, and they constituted an important gateway for some middle class women to attain a certain degree of social independence. Women achieved a certain social prominence, resulting in leadership roles, where it was common for them to be coordinating policy and preparing methodologies for this area, as well as taking an active role and directly interpreting situations by means of social diagnoses. For Illanes (2008, p.195), the social services "visitors" in Chile carried out their tasks with "an unselfish sense of service, frequenting poor areas, knocking on the doors of the poor and entering their houses."3 Talking about social work in Argentina, Donna Guy has shown that the professionalization of activities under social policies, with increased work opportunities for middle class or well-off women in social services, has absorbed or co-opted the feminist empowerment movement represented by these new activities (Guy, 2009, p.120, 121).

In Brazil too, social work was initially associated with women, partly as a result of their leading role in already existing charitable work, as in the case of other countries in the region. It was also associated with a supposed 'apostolic' calling, resulting from new guidelines adopted by the Catholic Church in the 1930s, which, for Iamamoto and Carvalho, making a critical citation from various documents of the time and refuting the class-bound and elitist attitudes found in them, amounted to concepts of superiority and guardianship "in relation to the proletariat" and ended by underlining the idea that women possessed a "natural vocation" for "charitable and educational tasks," and that it was their function "to preserve the moral and social order," one of the ways to do this being social work (1991, p.175, 176).

This professionalization occurred at different speeds in the countries of the region. It was at its most intense in the 1940s, with the establishment of social services schools. The immediate precursor of the profession involved the functions carried out by visiting nurses (or simply visitors) since the beginning of the nineteenth century, which included the supervision of wet nurses; the responsibility for the health of recently born babies in their homes; and the education of mothers in basic health notions and the care of babies. These functions were frequently linked to charitable and benevolent projects run by religious institutions with a major role played by women.

The conception of social services as a field in which there was a requirement for social and health services, whether they were provided by charities or public authorities, was connected to two processes which occurred at the same time and were very often related. On the one hand, there was the trend towards Catholic action, which has been discussed in different studies of the region - for example, by Aspe Armella (2008), Bazzano et al. (1993) and Ghio (2008) -, characterized by new strategies for approaching and dealing with social problems, in the 19th century, with the encyclical Rerum Novarum of Pope Leo XIII, and in the 1930s with the encyclical Quadragesimo Anno of Pope Pius XI, under which the Church and the Catholic laity had a duty to play a part in the construction of peace and social stability in capitalist countries. Catholic Action and its spin-off groups - Catholic Youth Workers, Catholic Student Workers, among others - developed in the countries of the region alongside charitable or benevolent projects which were expanded and which were directly or indirectly linked to religion, such as hospitals, orphanages and schools for the poor. The professional training of social workers was considered to be a strategic tool in the new assertiveness of Catholicism, faced with secular governments which lacked the structures for offering the help and assistance which were considered necessary to ensure an imagined social harmony and to ameliorate the problems caused by economic inequality and the exploitation of labor. Catholic activism from the 1930s onwards was not by itself responsible for introducing the professionalization of social work, but it occurred side by side with the initiatives of the state and often complemented them.

On the other hand, there was a restructuring of government policy with the aim of constructing modern societies, in which social work was seen as a mechanism for advancing civilization, promoting health and hygiene, and controlling and preventing social problems, and social policies were perceived as the most effective way of avoiding the risk of emergency situations arising from popular movements in radical opposition to social order, springing from poverty and the difficulties of life faced by such populations.

In summary, social services and the trend towards their professionalization and institutionalization in Latin America was the result of this combination of state policy, of a secular character, and of reformist Catholic initiatives, of both clerical and lay origin, which also found expression with the establishment of schools for social services in the region. These schools varied between those set up by public authorities and those founded by Catholic movements or institutions, as we shall see later. The relationship between the state and the Catholic Church were not necessarily harmonious, but it brought together the interest of public authorities in seeing their social functions expanded and those of the Church in repositioning itself with regard to its activities in a world undergoing modernization.

In Latin America, the many initiatives for meeting the needs of children and poor families, developed in the first half of the twentieth century, have been the subject of various studies which seek to relate them to the professionalization of social work, in general terms, and the emergence of social services as a new tool for delivering social help, in particular. The scope of these studies is often confined to national frontiers, examining how professionalization occurred in a particular country - such as in Mexico (Padilla Arroyo, 2008), Brazil (Marcílio, 1998), Argentina (Moreno, 2000), Uruguay (Ortega Cerchiaro, 2003), Chile (Rojas Flores, 2010), Costa Rica (Sancho, 2000) - and showing the measures taken to reform charitable, benevolent and philanthropic activities and to introduce public initiatives alongside them. It is common for such studies, when they go beyond national borders, to establish references to what was happening in Europe at the same time, but it is not common to relate these changes and reforms as between the countries of Latin America.

On the other hand, there are enquiries which are based on comparative studies, or even start off from 'transnational' studies - or from movements and the spread of ideas - of the policies and the ideas for the professionalization of social help in the context of Latin America or the American continent, and which show the important part played by feminists in the demands for reform in the area of social assistance (Guy, 1998a); which recognize that social work - meaning both the public sector and the charitable / religious sector - was one of the doorways to social acceptability in the region of the activities of middle class women away from domestic servitude (Youssef, 1973, p.346); which highlight the development of social work colleges related to the awakening social programs of the Catholic Church and the emergence of Latin American capitalist societies (Manrique Castro, 2010; Ander-Egg, 1975); which outline the internationalization, from 1928, and the Pan Americanization, from the 1950s, of social work as an area of knowledge (Manrique Castro, 2010, p.150-170); and which relate the changes in the field of social assistance to other, wider reforms directed towards children and families on the American continent, such as those aimed at child health (Birn, 2007), or demands for the recognition of the rights of children and adolescents (Guy, 1998b).

While in Europe the appearance of social services was directly linked to a very intense period of industrialization, urbanization, conflicts between capital and labor and the growth of the urban proletariat, in Latin America the strength and extent of these factors was not so great, but they were also seen as giving rise to problems which demanded social assistance policies. Besides these factors, for Latin America the origins of the professionalization of social services was directly connected with the subject of childhood and with the importance this subject had for Latin Americans, children being strongly identified as the bearers of a civilized future for the countries of the region. For this reason the PCCs came to be seen as privileged and unique spaces for introducing and disseminating guidelines for the reform of social services and the expansion of social work associated with such reforms and with policies for children and poor families.

It was not by chance that in 1939 the Chilean Gabriel Amunategui, writing about the origins of the first school for training social workers in the region, the Escuela de Servicio Social Alejandro del Rio, founded in 1925 in Chile, said that "the debates and the interchange of ideas" which took place at the Fourth PCC, held in Santiago de Chile in 1924, produced a realization that it was "necessary to attack social problems with new solutions." This was the motivating force for a Chilean doctor, Alejandro del Río - who had been one of the organizers of the congress and one of its vice-presidents, and was at the time director of public assistance and a professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Chile - to take the necessary first steps to establish the school (Amunategui, 1939, p.6, 7). It was also not a chance event that that the first publication with regard to social services in Brazil, written in 1939 by Maria Esolina Pinheiro - social assistant at the Laboratory for Child Biology of the Rio de Janeiro District Juvenile Court - was called "social services: abandoned children and young people" (Pinheiro, 1985).

In Latin America, therefore, the discussions involving social services and the professionalization of social assistance found in the subject of childhood a point of convergence and a stimulus. The concern to make policies for health, social matters and education more effective, by the creation of a more 'intimate' and closer link with poor families and their children, aroused an interest in social services as an instrument for carrying out social policies for children in the Americas, and it was also present in the discussions within the PCCs.

The discussions that have been made use of here by way of documentary reference come from texts presented and decisions approved during the course of the PCCs, and constitute a small sample of the points of view and theoretical trends which were current at these meetings between 1928 and 1948. They were aimed at reforming and restructuring the policies and services for rendering assistance and supervision for poor children and their families, creating not the intimacy and privacy demanded by well-off or middle class families, but rather a public intimacy. In other words, they laid down guidelines for a 'normal' domestic and family life, which was, however, constantly open to scrutiny and control by the state.

Ideas for the improvement and specialization of child assistance services were present from the first PCC, and the Fourth PCC approved a mention of the need to stimulate "home visits" as well as "Drops of Milk" (Gotas de Leite) (Congreso..., 1925, p.119).4 However, the most important decisions relating to these subjects were only given full rein at the Fifth PCC, held in Havana, Cuba, in 1927, when the topics were given detailed and extensive treatment, and approval was given to various recommendations to the governments of the region, relating to the expansion and professionalization of social assistance and social services, which were thus adopted by the s:Pan American Child Congress movement.

Despite the fact that the professionalization of social services had been the subject of only three papers presented at the Fifth PCC, two by Americans and one by a Uruguayan, the resolutions on the subject at this congress practically reproduced the methodologies of one of them5 by stating: (1) the principle of social work was "detailed investigation"; (2) the methods for training social workers were based on "informative studies" with regard to the history of institutions dealing with children, on the "doctrine of national organization," on the "physiological and psychological bases for behavior" and on "practical studies of the methods of the family social worker"; (3) governments were recommended to organize "a social services system in accordance with local conditions and opportunities" (Congreso..., 1928, p.53-55).

At subsequent Congresses, particularly the Seventh PCC, held in Mexico City in 1935, where eight papers dealt with the topic, the subject continued to be debated, and resolutions were passed for the improvement of training; for defining the role of the social worker in programs for assistance to children; for establishing the collaborative character of social services with other areas - such as health, education, psychology and juvenile courts - as something inherent in the profession; and for emphasizing the central role played by the profession in social policies for poor families in the context of strengthening preventative action.

The resolutions and recommendations to governments, in the series of PCCs examined, emphasized the fundamental position that social services should occupy in the structuring of policies for children, contributing to a change of focus in social assistance and control programs, aiming to make these more effective, as well as indicating a new strategy in bringing social service professionals in concrete situations closer to the lives of children and adolescents and their families.

Set out below are some of the trends and ideas contained in the papers and resolutions put forward during the course of these congresses.


A new tool for attending to children: social services

The perceived need for qualified personnel and the professionalization of the various fields dealing with the needs of children were topics which were present at the PCCs since the first congress. However, the appearance of social service activities as 'the principal new profession' for assistance to children was being developed slowly but surely and was recorded at the congresses.

Two trends were identified, one linked directly to the area of health and the other with a wider focus and more concerned with the social sphere. The first manifested itself as a new tool intended to expand and intensify child and mother health services, and focused on activities connected with public health, hygiene and mother-child well-being. The role of the professional was close to that of the "visiting nurse" and, according to Di Liscia (2005, p.111), meant "more intrusion ... into poor homes," with the aim of "regulating domestic life in the light of moral and hygienic precepts" and being active in combating child abandonment and encouraging breast feeding.

The second trend aimed to furnish the full means for action on all aspects of social policies and initiatives relating to children and poor families, being linked to an expansion in the role of institutions and to the putting into practice of new social assistance measures. Its intention was to reorganize existing activities and create a system of social assistance governed by scientific techniques, with greater efficiency and wider scope, and coordinated by the public authorities. In the view of Iamamoto and Carvalho (1991) in the case of Brazil, the state increased the scope of its intervention so as to coordinate the "management of social assistance," strengthening and centralizing "its own participation and regulating private initiatives," and in order to put into practice this new type of policy, it was necessary "to create specialist personnel," in the form of qualified teams, which included the social worker (p.179, 188).

Both these trends, medical help and public programs, presupposed the creation of new ways of doing things, among which a closer approach to the real life of poor children and their families was vital for a more accurate analysis of the problems they faced and for more effective proposals for measures said to be necessary to mitigate such problems.

Thus the social worker would also have to be qualified to give an opinion on the various possible solutions (where they should be targeted, at whom they should be directed, what to do when faced with certain 'types' of problem), as well as intervening directly in particular cases, indicating what institution or professional should be deployed to solve the problem. The social worker should also provide information to state institutions, such as the juvenile court, with regard to the real situation of the child or adolescent, and what would be the most appropriate treatment to be imposed by the judge, for example.

Both trends were present in the PCCs, as we shall see.

In an effort to define the scope of social services, Júlio Bauzá (1928, p.85), an official delegate from Uruguay to the Fifth PCC and director of the Child Protection Service of Montevideo, presented at the congress an overview of the expansion of social services in the Americas and in the world, and declared that the area was the "conjunction of voluntary efforts, attempting by scientific methods to correct defects in the social order," and that the aim was to "increase social well-being." He also characterized the profession by underlining the importance of the medical aspect, despite also giving some consideration to the field of assistance, when he stated that:

Social services are today an indispensable means for treating ills of a hygienic or social nature... . Plans for assistance, involving general or specific preventive medicine ... cannot achieve satisfactory results without the participation of the health visitor / social worker. Measures for the protection of children, whether pre-natal or post-natal, cannot achieve maximum results if they are not complemented by the work of social visitors. Hygienic conditions for children of pre-school and school age, courts specializing in dealing with delinquent children, these absolutely require the involvement of the social visitor (Bauzá, 1928, p.94).

This stress on the medical aspect has to do with the way in which social services were introduced in Uruguay, and the role assigned to it for meeting new medical demands, such as improving diagnoses; adopting a more preventionist attitude, thereby avoiding unnecessary calls on child health services; spreading more effectively ideas of hygiene and sanitary measures for poor families (Ortega Cerchiaro, 2003).

The other trend in social services envisaged a wider and more effective overall scheme for social assistance programs and was put forward by the Museo Social Argentino, at the Seventh PCC, when it introduced its School of Social Services, founded in 1930, with the aim of encouraging "the formation of a collective awareness, leading to the scientific organization of welfare work and the training of specialist personnel, so that, in full knowledge of the causes and effects of poverty, the methods and procedures of social services can be applied" (Museo..., 1937, p.868).

Various American studies emphasized the role of the social worker as the cornerstone of a new relationship between poor children and their families and the machinery of government or private organizations, in which social assistance, control and prevention were combined in forming welfare policies.6

In Brazil, social services were considered as an element capable of changing the conception of how activities in the field of social assistance should be carried out, and attained a more central role when compared with the part they played in the field of health (in health services the social worker was just one more available tool and acted side by side with doctors and nurses, for example). In the field of social assistance, social workers were active in three areas: "taking part in welfare programs"; "encouraging the organization of social services in industry and commerce"; and finally "working as specialist assistants in programs for the protection of abandoned or delinquent children" (Museo..., 1937, p.868).

There were particular specialties in the field, as in the social services programs focused on rural children and their families, for example in Mexico, where the peasantry and the rural world constituted potential sources of instability with regard to the post-revolutionary order. It was regarded as essential to engage with this world, for which reason there was a demand for a specialist "Rural Social Worker." In fact, the Mexicans Jenaro Vásquez and Gilberto Loyo, academics representing the Mexican Department of Labor, put forward a proposal at the Seventh PCC for specialization both in the urban and in the rural spheres, because it should be accepted "that the very different social conditions in the rural and urban environments" demanded "in reality two classes of workers: the urban social worker and the rural social worker" (Vásquez, Loyo, 1937, p.852). This was an indication of the importance attached to social services beyond the world of cities and the industrial environment, as a force capable of acting in different scenarios with a view to preserving social stability.

With the passage of time, the view of the role of social worker widened even further, both with regard to children and in relation to adults, extending to the following specialties: health services; welfare services; child protection services; school social services; social services in industry; services in social assistance institutions; services for special individuals and groups.7

With regard to children, the professional social worker was qualified to supervise or take part in reformatories, children's homes, maternity units, health centers, crèches, refuges, quarantine centers, day nurseries and juvenile courts, as well as doing preliminary assessments of children for these institutions and monitoring family placements, foster parents and poor families.

According to circumstances, the social worker should play a central or supplementary role in the fields of health, social security, law and social policy. A strict collaboration between the various bodies working with children was another marked feature of the social worker. The varied nature of her activities was linked with the search for a scientific description of procedures for social intervention, with the aim of improving the results of such intervention, and for this purpose consideration was given to the causes of problems, the means of mitigating or resolving them, and the extension of the capacity for preventive action.

As regards the methods of social services, there was almost complete agreement as to its capacity for diagnosing problems, proposing remedies and anticipating future problems (prevention). Or, in the words of Julio Bauzá (1928, p.85):

Social services can be looked at in three ways. Palliative, allowing the temporary alleviation of social evils. This is the procedure which is most generally followed, the most costly and the least effective. Sometimes such procedures can even be considered curative, that is to say, they can succeed in not only alleviating but in curing a social evil. But true social services, which consider not only the effects but also the causes, should be preventive, with a study of the problem guiding the steps taken (original italics).

A comprehensive view of social services was transforming them into a new weapon in programs for the social control of poverty, because it saw them as capable of providing problems with solutions; of diagnosing and mitigating, even before it became a fact, the 'abnormality' of collective life; of intervening, in a scientific and therapeutic way, in the daily experiences of poor children and their families; and, in many cases, of influencing the uncertain future of those they assisted with institutions or other professionals such as doctors, teachers, employers, public officials and psychologists.

The principal sphere of work involved the individual situation, known as case work. In time, work with groups or communities was developed alongside it, in accordance with the ideas of the Americans King (Scholl Professor of Social Services, Fordham University), Laureman (Professor, National Catholic School of Social Services) and Pettit (Professor, National Catholic School of Social Services), presented at the Eighth PCC held in Washington, D.C., in 1942. Arising during and after the Second World War, these ideas sought to maximize the reach of social services and respond to the considerable impact on their social organization, caused by the mobilization of the population in support of the war effort and expressed in the increased presence of women on the labor market, and in the destruction or destabilization of families by the departure of men for the conflict and their deaths or traumatic condition if they survived (King et al., 1942, p.569).

In defining the aims of case work, Bauzá quoted Doctor Mary Richmond, considered to be the founder of the method, saying that "individual case work constitutes a set of methods which develop the personality and readjust, consciously and on an individual basis, the man and his social environment." (1928, p.89).

The individual case involved an approach to the child and his family, enabling a view to be formed of 'maladjustment,' an 'abnormality' or a lack of something, and acting so as to avoid making the problem worse and, if possible, re-establishing supposed normality. To identify needs, use was made of another method, which was very costly: the social diagnosis.8

The social diagnosis, according to the speech made at the Eighth PCC by the American Rose McHugh, Director of Practical Investigations of the Social Action Section of the National Catholic General Welfare Conference in Washington, aimed to produce a "report" on the needs and the "real" causes of maladjustment of their clients, evaluating multi-faceted variables such as health, education, living conditions and the personality of the "maladjusted," and proposing remedial action, or, in other words, "formulating a plan to adapt them to normal conditions" (McHugh, 1928, p.71).

These methods were accepted as relevant for dealing with poor children, and at the Fifth PCC approval was given to how social services should proceed in their case with the provision that:

Social work with children should be based on the principle of a detailed investigation. This should precede any treatment and should provide what the needs of each child require, in accordance with the results of the investigation. The application of this principle depends on the management of social work, by social workers, who are familiar with the methods of investigation and capable of recommending suitable treatment for each child, based on the data obtained at the investigation stage and using available methods to treat the children concerned (Congreso..., 1928, p.55).

In short, the new profession was shown to be qualified to act in a milieu which had been abandoned by other disciplines, namely the social milieu. It was made legitimate as a specific area of knowledge by analogy with other areas of knowledge, as proposed by the Mexican professor, Marisbel Simons, at the Seventh PCC, when she stated that "the social worker, in the same way as the doctor and the psychiatrist, sets out a social diagnosis and the appropriate treatment" (1937, p.841). The treatment of children was seen as fundamental, because they were perceived to be the element in society which was most susceptible to modification, correction and improvement.

s:If it were possible to divorce questions of politics and class surrounding the plans for the reform of social assistance and its professionalization in the institution of social workers, the inevitable conclusion would be that the reforms and social work brought improved and more dignified conditions for poor children and their families. This means that, for example, a child who under the previous system might have been abandoned as a foundling and would almost certainly be destined to die9, with the new institutions available, but mainly through supervision, guidance, diagnosis and, where appropriate, intervention in the case of mothers and their new-born children, might survive and at least have the assurance of the right to exist, which was a very positive development.

The political and class aspect of the new social assistance, however, sought to create a tool for the state to intervene, supervise, snoop and interfere in the private daily lives of poor children and their families, in many cases exacerbating the 'abnormalities' of both by the use of the new methods of diagnosing problems. Moreover there was an increase in the legitimate circumstances for intervention in the affairs of poor families and their children, which was common in Latin America during the 1960s and 1970s, with the establishment of foundations for the welfare of children whose features were centralization, authoritarian methods and harshness of intervention policies (Pilotti, s.d.). This affected large numbers of families, with the removal of children from their homes and their internment in closed establishments, or supervision of the daily life of the family.10 In this sense, professionalization contributed towards stigmatizing the life of the poor, because it became more and more difficult for them to be normal: poverty came to be seen as a social disease. This aspect, in my opinion, makes it necessary to differentiate between the benefits resulting from the introduction of social services into social assistance policies, and shows that it is not possible to judge the development as simply good or bad, but allows us to reveal points of tension and ambiguity which were involved in the professionalization of social assistance to poor children.


The road towards professionalization of social services

The growing importance of social services in Latin America was connected with the expansion of professional training centers, which, up to the 1940s, were linked to the traditions of European countries, mixed with the growing influence of experience in the USA. This sometimes resulted in the development of 'mixed' concepts and procedures, tending towards the pragmatic. Adaptation and mixing of theories occurred, as the possibilities of their application and their relevance to this or that country were identified.

As from the 1960s, this expansion could call on a large force of social workers in the Americas and the Caribbean, which ensured them an important place in the planning of social welfare policies, and which, in the context of children, resulted in the general spread of National Foundations for the Welfare of Children.

Within the PCCs, the question of training personnel for the social assistance sector, especially for social services, was discussed in the debates, and resolutions were approved for the purpose of encouraging this to be adopted in the countries concerned by their respective governments.

Better preparation was considered essential in order to achieve a more effective scientific training period for dealing with the problems of children. At the Sixth PCC, held in Lima, Peru, in 1930, a resolution was approved under which "the means should be provided whereby those intending to become social workers" should undergo "technical preparation," dealing with "the economic, social and moral problems faced by children in their relations with the family environment and with society as a whole" (Congreso..., 1930, p.18).

The matter was the subject of similar votes at subsequent congresses, when there were various resolutions to the effect that there should be encouragement for the expansion of technical colleges or universities for social services, which would ensure the scientific training of the social workers of the future.

The clearest declaration to this effect was issued at the Eighth PCC, held in the shadow of the Second World War, in 1942, in the USA, which recommended that governments, as one of the strategies for mitigating the social effects produced by the conflict, should "encourage the training of social workers as the essential personnel for the development of a complete program, and establish social work colleges in accordance with requirements" (Congreso..., 1942, p.69).

This resolution, and others to the same effect, sought to establish or adapt facilities to train the health visitors or social workers of the future. It is difficult to be sure of the impact that the PCCs had on the implementation of this policy, but it is possible to see how the expansion of schools in the region occurred and in what way the congresses were connected with these changes.

Some of the schools were 'specialist' from the beginning, with an autonomous training structure, as in the case of the Escuela de Trabajadoras Sociales y Enseñanza Doméstica, of the Public Education Department of Mexico, established in 1933, described by the Mexican Esperanza Balmaceda de Josefe at the Eighth PCC (Balmaceda de Josefe, 1942, p.595).

Other schools were the result of the search for specialization in the area, in cases where their predecessors were linked to the field of health, such as in Uruguay. Here the first courses relating to social services were set up by the Uruguay Faculty of Medicine at its Institute of Experimental Hygiene, and those completing the course were awarded the title of Social Hygiene Visitors (Ortega Cerchiaro, 2003, p.50, 51, 124).

Another indication of this trend, also in Uruguay, was the change which happened to the Escuela de Sanidad y Servicio Social, founded in 1939. It was originally linked to the Ministry of Public Health, but became separate in 1954, and changed its name to the Escuela de Servicio Social (Ortega Cerchiaro, 2003, p.62, 67, 68).

The impulse for the setting up of these schools came from the search for qualified professionals to improve health services; for qualified personnel for the state social assistance services; and for new social action policies by Catholic groups in Latin America.

Besides the importance, already previously noted, of the medical sector and state social assistance as the two main methodological sources for the training of social workers, it is necessary to stress the part played by Catholic movements in Latin America. Their most important role was not in the formulation of methods, but in the setting up of social services schools. This was because Catholic social action was concerned to reposition itself within government social assistance policies, supplying personnel for public institutions, and also to put its charitable work in its own social programs on a scientific basis (hospitals, orphanages, schools for poor children). In this way, according to Ortega Cerchiaro (2003, p.67), Catholic initiatives brought fresh life to both social services and their practices, imparting to them a "charitable conception of the profession."

Looking at developments in Chile, Matus identified a problem in the charitable nature of social services. For this author, "social work in Chile" did not emerge "as the continuation of charity, except in various projects to be different from it." Even the nearest descendants of Catholicism and charitable activities, such as the Escuela de Servicio Social Elvira Matte, the second to be set up in the country, in 1927, within the Catholic University of Chile, should be seen as "a modern and positive expression of professionalization" (Matus, 2008, p.221). In other words, Catholicism modernized itself at the same time as it introduced a 'gentler' and more affirmative form of the scientific practice of social services.

As stated earlier, the initiatives for the reform of child assistance in Latin America resulted from the conjunction of a Catholic trend, through the repositioning of the Catholic Church and the movements within it towards social engagement, brought to fruition by Catholic Action, and a public and modernizing trend. In the context of the organization of the profession of social work, however, it became evident that there was a difference between Catholic trends and public trends. When we look at the foundation of the first social services schools in the region, for example, it can be seen that there is a kind of 'competition' between church and state, because it often happened that a Catholic school was founded next to a public school.11

The initiatives in founding social services schools in the region, whether public or private/Catholic were the result of forces within these institutions, but they sought help from outside experience.

In the first phase of the foundation of schools, the 'Belgian school' was influential, especially in Chile, because in 1925, when the Escuela de Servicio Social Alejandro del Rio was set up, the first in Latin America, two Belgians, Jenny Bernier e Leo Cordemans, were contracted to run it, according to information from the Chilean Luz Tocornal de Romero, director of the school, presented to the Eighth PCC (Tocornal de Romero, 1942, p.603).

Chile, after the foundation of its two schools, the first in 1925 and the second in 1927, went on to collaborate in the expansion of social services schools in the region, influencing their setting up in Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba, Buenos Aires, Brazil and Peru. Ortega Cerchiaro (2003, p.67, 71) considers it appropriate to refer to this development as the "Chilean school," in which the Escuela de Servicio Social Elvira Matte was very active.

Despite the Chilean work, the Belgian tradition continued to play an important part in the field through the International Catholic Union for Social Services, whose headquarters were in Belgium, and which assisted in setting up schools and accepted students and personnel from Latin America for training.12

There were also other centers of influence in the foundation of schools. In Puerto Rico, an Associated Free State of the USA, the schools were directly conceived with American support. The first Escuela de Servicio Social in Venezuela, in 1940, was in its turn organized by the Puerto Rican Celestina Zalduondo, contracted for the purpose by the Ministry of Health and Social Assistance of that country, according to information supplied to the Ninth PCC by the Venezuelan Carolina Lima, Head of the Social Services Division of the Venezuelan Council for Children (Lima, 1948, p.1).

The USA played an increasing part in the training field by encouraging the exchange of professionals and students, by welcoming students from schools in Latin America to its study centers13, and by coordinating and participating in Pan American and Inter-American congresses in the field (Iamamoto, Carvalho, 1991, p.333-342; Ander-Egg, 1975, p.357-379).

From these areas of interaction, the process of establishing social services in the region marks the intensity of the interchanges, of the formation of networks and of the exchanges in the quest for the professionalization of assistance, in the midst of which the children's sector received considerable attention and would in due course receive the attention of social workers following qualification. Efforts were being made to construct new bases for social stability in the emerging, impoverished and increasingly turbulent capitalist societies of Latin America. These interchanges carried with them plans for the construction of zones of influence and the legitimization of intermediaries who were related, in the case of US interests, to attempts to strengthen Pan Americanism and to construct capitalist Latin American societies modeled on American structures and under their guardianship - in what is known as informal imperialism (Salvatore, 1998) - and in the case of the Catholic Church in Latin America, considered as an international movement driven by institutional directives from the Vatican issued during the 1930s, they were related to the plans to reposition the influence and the activities of the Church in the context of social modernization and the increased activities of governments in spheres which were previously under total Catholic domination - education, assistance or charity - and confront the emergence of 'materialist' ideologies, such as socialism and communism, the fruit of class conflicts and the formation of labor movements in the principal cities of the region; the Church thus aimed to reach other agreements with society and the state, in conformity with the prevailing capitalism.

The social services courses were either of a technical nature, of short duration, intended to instruct auxiliary personnel in direct action in the institutions for assistance, or of an academic character, lasting two or three years, and focused on training personnel to be qualified to make social diagnoses, issue reports on individuals, and prescribe treatment for their needs.

I now proceed to give an indication of the general study plan for the academic courses14, which were basically divided into two sections: a first part comprising theoretical studies, and a second part involving practical exercises.

In the field of theory, according to the information supplied to the Eighth PCC by the Chilean Maria Liliberto Randanelli, Social Visitor of the Central Department for Mother and Child, of Santiago de Chile, it was hoped that the teaching would be governed by the "active experimental teaching system," in which "the students are the immediate investigators of the knowledge that they need to acquire" (Liliberto Randanelli, 1942, p.369).

The theoretical disciplines offered centered on notions of basic child health care, hygiene and healthy practices; a knowledge of the law relating to assistance and social security; an understanding of the workings of the system and institutions directly attending to the needs of children; the methods of social work (individual or group cases), the ideas of sociology, economics, and a progressive inclusion of the teaching of general and child psychology and psychiatry.15

For this purpose, the PCCs approved recommendations for providing "full courses on social services for families and children" (Congreso..., 1948, p.26), and that "informative studies" should pay attention to "family law, the history of institutions and bodies working in favor of children, the current theories with regard to national organization, both industrial and political, and the physiological and psychological bases of behavior" (Congreso..., 1928, p.55).

The practical part envisaged training appropriate for identifying problems and anti-social behavior in society and for confronting them by means of "treatment methods," as well as the "management of institutions, the selection and supervision of adoption homes, and the supervision of conditional liberty and vocational work," supplying also "statistical techniques and statistical methods of investigation" (Congreso..., 1928, p.55).

The experience of concrete situations in probationary employment was recognized as indispensable to the training of students, as was the case in Chile, in places such as "the Compulsory Insurance Fund, mother-child conferences, public schools, the Institute of Social Assistance of the School of Social Services, juvenile courts and charity services" (Tocornal de Romero, 1942, p.606).

In order to know more about what was going on in society, with families and with children and adolescents, the social worker should make use of investigations and interviews with the persons in need, for the purpose of obtaining preliminary details on their problems, as well as seeking other sources of information with regard to the family of the individual in question. She should also obtain advice from experts "in analogous fields of action, such as the doctor, the psychiatrist, the teacher, and the priest or spiritual guide," according to the recommendations of Sophonisba Breckinridge (1928, p.18) at the Fifth PCC.

This would give rise to the creation of social assessment files, a basic tool in the diagnosis of probable problems and their social causes affecting children and adolescents. The files would form the basis for the treatments to be applied in the areas of health, assistance and law and over the course of time would come to be an 'obligatory' part of the most varied registers devised for taking over the life of the child for the purpose of controlling, molding or protecting it.

Professionalization and the reform of assistance were not thought of as simply for the purpose of improving the lives of poor children and adolescents and their families; they also involved geopolitical, ideological and national interests, which were sometimes progressive, sometimes conservative, but which seldom sought to confront and overcome the social inequalities caused by the exploitation of the working classes in the capitalist societies under construction. Social services, during this period, attempted to acknowledge the material aspects of social inequality and alleviate them, even though for this purpose it was necessary to invade the privacy of the poor. From 1965, however, this privileged knowledge of poverty would give rise, among certain groups of social workers, to a consciousness of inequality and proposals for more radical, sometimes revolutionary, policies to combat it, for the benefit of the poor and on behalf of greater political, economic and social equality (Ander-Egg, 1975).


Final considerations

The development of the social services area, and its professionalization, gave a new dimension to the question of social assistance and, particularly, to help for children. With social workers, the daily domestic and family life of the poor came to be more accessible and of greater interest to programs for intervention in the affairs of poor families and their children.

Within the Pan American Child Congress, the countries of the American continent made this process visible, which, in throwing light on popular daily life, saw childhood as a factor by means of which it was possible to open the door on the private lives of the poor, with a view to normalizing them.

This new area of knowledge and action appeared to be capable of diagnosing this world and prescribing, by means of social reports, the procedures which should be adopted in the 'treatment,' in the thesis discussed here, of children and their families.

The PCCs stimulated the process of expansion of social services, recommending to governments the creation of training schools in the subject, encouraging debate on the characteristics of the profession, publicizing methods and promoting the discussion of experiences. With these meetings, the conceptual field of social work was given an American and Latin American twist, even before the existence of specific regional conferences for the area, playing an important part in the circulation of ideas and in the meeting of professionals between the 1920s and 1940s.

At the outset of the process of professional institutionalization in the region, the links were close between social services and the concerns and policies for attending to children. It was during the debates on new measures with regard to poor children, in the context of the reform of assistance systems and during the development of specialist knowledge relating to the lives of children, that social work was highlighted as an important tool for the modernization of charitable and philanthropic practices and for the introduction of the state sector in coordinating social assistance systems.

The new practices brought together the interests of the state and of the Catholic reform movement, not always harmoniously - for example, the almost simultaneous foundation, in different countries in Latin America, of public and private/Catholic social services schools - in confronting the problems faced by the poorer sections of society on account of political, economic and social inequalities and expanding capitalist production. The aim was to deal with poverty in a more professional, effective and competent way, so as to avoid it becoming a political problem or representing a threat to social order. This way of dealing with it did not always represent an improvement in the way of life of the poorer classes, but it introduced a new potential dimension into the family set-up: for the middle class family, there was intimacy and the protection of privacy; for the poor family, publicly supervised intimacy, in other words, public intimacy, in which children were the indicators to be taken, especially by social services, as showing the normality or abnormality of the family and the children, thereby giving rise to assistance, supervision, control, protection and intervention. The fact that such families belonged to the lower classes gave the state the right to share in their intimacy as observer, and if it considered it appropriate, as controller.

To give an idea of the aims in the field of social services at the time, I refer to the Mexican Marisbel Simons (1937, p.804), who, in attempting to define the mission of social services and the role of the social worker at the Seventh PCC, in a paraphrase of José Martí, summarized in a very clear and precise way the aims of social work, when she said that its function was "to bring up children against crime; to create a kindergarten in every street; man is noble and tends towards the best; and children are salvation."

The new techniques were ready to take their place in the fields of science and public policy, and in the private lives of poor children and their families.



* This article is the fruit of research for a doctoral thesis entitled Childhood as the harbinger of the future in Latin America, 1916-1948, which was supported by a doctoral scholarship from the Research Support Foundation of the State of São Paulo. For the elaboration of this article I also had the support of a doctoral traineeship grant from the Doctoral Program in Brazil for Coordinating the Further Studies of Tertiary Education-Level Personnel of the Brazilian Ministry of Education, for research carried out at the Colégio de México, Mexico, in 2009-2010. This is an expanded version in Portuguese of the text in Spanish, as yet unpublished, entitled La vida infantil y su intimidad pública: el trabajo social como novedad en la atención a la infancia en latinoamérica (1928-1948).

1 In this article I have used the feminine form to refer to social services professionals, i.e. social workers and social assistants, because women have been more prominent in the profession since its inception.

2 For the record, I show the series of congresses from 1916 to 1948, even though, owing to the presence of the subject of social services in the discussions and resolutions of the Fifth PCC onwards, the title of the article mentions the dates 1928-1948. I note that up to the Fourth PCC, it was called the American Child Congress. First PCC, 1916, Argentina; Second PCC, 1919, Uruguay; Third PCC, 1922, Brazil; Fourth PCC, 1924, Chile; Fifth PCC, 1928, Cuba; Sixth PCC, 1930, Peru; Seventh PCC, 1935, Mexico; Eighth PCC, 1942, USA; Ninth PCC, 1948, Venezuela.

3 In this and other citations of texts from non-English languages, a free translation has been provided.

4 Even though it was not given great importance at the Fourth PCC, the subject was touched on in the presentation by the American Rose McHugh (McHugh, 1925).

5 The text mentioned was from the American Sophonisbo Breckonridge, professor of social economy at the School of Social Services Management of the University of Chicago and doctor of philosophy (Breckinridge, 1931).

6 At the Fifth PCC, the work of Breckinridge (1928) dominated the final resolutions on social services, where the conclusions in her text were reproduced practically word for word. It was this PCC which approved the most detailed and extensive final resolutions on the subject.

7 The descriptions of the spheres of operation of social services are scattered throughout the discussions of the PCCs. I have given a summary here of the areas presented as relevant to the profession between the years 1930-1950, based on a more concise work prepared by Ander-Egg (1975, p.445) in the context of the 1970s. For a summary of the potential fields for social services at that time, see also Bauzá (1928, p.92).

8 The social diagnosis was the first element to mark the different approach of social services within the context of practical assistance, because it involved an examination of the causes of maladjustment, according to Ander-Egg (1975, p.164). In making this observation, Ander-Egg quoted the American Mary Richmond, who declared that the social diagnosis "was an attempt to arrive at the most precise definition possible with regard to the social situation and the personality of a particular client."

9 According to Pinto Venâncio (1999, p.119), the death rate of children of a tender age abandoned to the care of foundling hospitals was, on average, 65% between 1781 and 1830, in the case of the Foundling Hospital in Salvador, Bahia.

10 Examples of dramatic narratives on the experience of passing through the old institutions known as Child Welfare Foundations are Silva (1997), in the case of Brazil, and in the form of a novel in the case of Argentina, Medina (1974).

11 I list here the institutions and whether their foundation was of a public or Catholic nature. The information has been taken from Nunes (2011, p.105), with the exception of information on Peru, where the source was Manrique Castro (2010, p.118, 122). Brazil: Escola de Serviço Social (São Paulo), 1936, founded by the Centre for Studies and Social Action of São Paulo (Catholic); Escola Técnica de Serviço Social (Rio de Janeiro), 1938, established by the Juvenile Court of Rio de Janeiro. Chile: Escuela de Servicio Social Alejandro del Río (Santiago), 1925, founded by the Central Board of Charity (public); Escuela de Servicio Social Elvira Matte (Santiago), 1927, founded by the Catholic University of Chile. Ecuador: Escuela de Visitadoras Sociales (name changed in 1945 to Escuela Nacional de Servicio Social), 1938, founded by the Ministry of Social Security; Escuela de Servicio Social Mariana de Jesús, 1944, founded by the Catholic Church. Mexico: Escuela de Trabajadoras Sociales y Enseñanza Doméstica, (the Escuela de Enseñanza Doméstica existed since 1926), 1933, established by the Secretariat for Public Education. Paraguay: Escuela de Visitadoras de Higiene, 1938, founded by the Department of Child Protection of the Ministry of Public Health. Peru: Escola de Visitadoras Sociais de Higiene Infantil e Enfermeiras de Puericultura, 1931 (which functioned for less than a year), set up by the Peruvian Institute for the Child (public); Escuela de Servicio Social, 1937, created by the Ministry of Public Health, Labor and Social Security, but the Catholic Church became responsible for the "ideological orientation and academic structure of the School. Uruguay: Escuela de Sanidad y Servicio Social, 1939, formed by the Ministry of Public Health; Escuela de Servicio Social del Uruguay, 1937, founded by the Catholic Church. Venezuela: Escuela de Servicio Social, 1940, created by the Ministry of Health and Social Security; Escuela de Servicio Social Católica, 1944, founded by the Catholic Church. In Argentina, in 1930, by way of registration, the Escuela de Servicio Social was created by the Museo Social Argentino (Nunes 2011, p.105), and, according to Di Liscia (2005, p.115), the first Escuela de Enfermeras Visitadoras was created in 1925, and was part of the Institute of Hygiene of the Faculty of Medical Sciences at the University of Buenos Aires. With regard to the conjunction and also the competition between public and private/Catholic initiatives in the sphere of social assistance and the programs directed towards poor families in Chile, see the interesting study by Valdés, Caro e Peña (2001).

12 Brazil and Uruguay had links with the International Catholic Union for Social Services. Two Brazilian students were trained in social services in Belgium, and took the first steps in the field, in Rio de Janeiro in 1936, and were the founders of the Escola de Serviço Social, in São Paulo, in the same year (Iamamoto, Carvalho, 1991, p.177, 189). In Uruguay, the Union took on the role of the most important center for the diffusion of Catholic policies in Latin America with regard to the methodology for training social workers (Ortega Cerchiaro, 2003, p.70). Manrique Castro (2010) also deals with the important influence of the Union on the American continent.

13 In 1942, there was mention of the presence of 15 students from countries in the region doing traineeship work in schools accredited by the American Association of Schools of Social Work (King et al., 1942, p.574)

14 By way of example, these were some of the study programs at the time: (a) Escuela de Servicio Social, of the Museo Social Argentino: First year: hygiene and social medicine; elements of political economy; domestic economy; Second year: economics and social legislation; organization and techniques of social services; organization of social services in industry and commerce; assistance for abandoned or delinquent children (Museo..., 1937, p.869); (b) Essential subjects which must be studied by social workers: courses in statistics, demographics, political economy, sociology, psychology, agrarian and labor law, hygiene and practices in social surveys (Vásquez, Loyo, 1937, p.865).

15 The proposal to establish consistent studies in the fields of psychology and psychiatry was related to the expansion of activities in these areas with regard to children and with the spread of "behavioral laboratories," in which doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists participated, and which should also include social workers, according to the paper presented by the American Sophonisba Breckinridge (1937, p.882, 884) to the Seventh PCC. For a description of the contents and the presence of psychology in the training of social workers, see Liliberto Randanelli (1942, p.370, 371, 373).



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Received for publication in August 2010
Approved for publication in December 2011



Translated by Derrick Guy Phillipps

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