C.J.F.W.F. Survey Shows Marked Changes in Jewish Welfare Services
Menu JTA Search

C.J.F.W.F. Survey Shows Marked Changes in Jewish Welfare Services

Download PDF for this date

Marked changes in Jewish voluntary services to the sick, the aged, children and families took place during the past decade, according to a survey released here today by the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, the central body of 215 Jewish federations, welfare funds and councils throughout the United States and Canada.

The report summarizes services and financial statistics in Jewish agencies for 1960, and spotlights trends from 1951 through 1960, in four major fields of health and welfare: family service, child care, institutions for the aged, and general and special hospitals. Its statistics are based on annual reports made to the Council by agencies throughout the country. The data is published in the 1961 Yearbook of Jewish Social Services which is ready for distribution.

The most striking service change is apparent in the field of aged care. The survey indicates that the number of homes, their bed capacity, and special rehabilitative services have increased sharply and present trends indicate that these institutions will be setting aside ever growing proportions of bed space for the chronically sick and senile aged. The changing patterns in child care programing include more emphasis on special services for emotionally disturbed children, both in residential and in foster homes.

Jewish general hospitals in the past decade have been moving toward development into medical centers with comprehensive services, embracing long term as well as acute illnesses, psychiatric treatment, greater research, and a variety of other related functions. At the same time, they have moved toward greater coordination with institutions for the care of the aged.


Family agencies, studied in the survey, show that clients’ need for financial assistance declined in the past ten years and that demands for personal services and assistance to older men and women rose strikingly. A slightly larger number of families were served in 1960 than in 1951 and more members of the same families now receive help. Many agencies have expanded their services to older persons so that the aged now constitute about one-third or more of those being served.

The proportion of families receiving direct financial assistance in these agencies dropped from over one-third in 1961 to less than one-sixth in 1960–a decline which is related to the sharp decrease in the need for service to immigrant families. Centrally raised philanthropic funds still provide more than four-fifths of the total family agency income, while revenue from fees increased from two to nearly seven percent.

In the area of financing, the survey finds that though more philanthropic dollars were being contributed in 1961 than in 1951, these philanthropic funds are providing a smaller proportion of total agency income. Public tax funds, on the other hand, emerged as an increasingly greater supporter of health and welfare services, administered by voluntary agencies, chiefly in the fields of hospital treatment and child care. Increased payment of fees by the direct users of welfare and health services also developed significantly.


Proportionately fewer Jewish patients are now being served in Jewish general hospitals, the survey established. This is seen as an outgrowth of the philosophy of non-sectarian service by Jewish hospitals as well as a reflection of the change in population distribution and neighborhood competition.

In general hospital financing, public tax funds are now the second largest source of income. Philanthropic funds–the second largest source in 1951–dropped to third place. The largest source remains direct patient or insurance payments.

When income among all four agency groups is compared, Jewish general hospitals show both the largest dollar amount and the greatest dollar increase during the decade. Homes for the aged, however, had the greatest percentage increase. Specialized child care agencies show a substantial percentage increase as well, but family agencies report very little income change.

The past decade showed a slow up from the great decline in the number of children under care which developed during the 1930-1950 period. Fewer children are being served in foster homes but more in their own homes, a trend which the survey attributes to more intensive early diagnosis, a stress on prevention, and what it describes as “family-focused” treatment of parents and children. About one-fourth of the children under care were being served in institutions both in 1951 and in 1960.

The greatest expansion has been in medical and nursing facilities for the sick and senile aged. By 1960, the infirmary beds in modern Jewish homes constituted from one-half to two-thirds of all beds. Specialized rehabilitative services have also been instituted or expanded. Payments for services by residents and their families, including money from public assistance and social security, rose from about one-half of all institution income in 1951 to almost three-fourths of all income in 1960.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund