Some casework aspects of the use of a clothing program in a child placement agency

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A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the School of Social Work The University of Southern California

In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Social Work

* > y

Elsie Muslin June 1950

UMI Number: EP66352

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Dissertation P^ousting

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T h i s thesis, w r i t t e n u n d e r th e d i r e c t i o n o f th e c a n d id a te ’s F a c u l t y

C o m m itte e

and a pp ro ve d

by a l l its m e m b e rs , has been p r e s e n t e d to a n d a c c e p te d by th e F a c u l t y o f th e G r a d u a t e S c h o o l o f S o c i a l W o r k in p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f th e r e ­ q u ir e m e n t s f o r th e d e g re e o f





Faculty Committee

C hairm an




INTRODUCTION................... . .


Statement of the problem



The agency setting . . . . . . .



Cultural aspects of clothing . . .



Agency provisions for clothing programs

• • •


The clothing policy of the Children!s Bureau of Los A n g e l e s .............................. Casework aspects of a clothing program , II.

, . .

18 20

SUMMARY OP BACKGROUND MATERIAL IN THE CASE R E C O R D S ............ .........................


The Norman c a s e ..............................


Parent's record

. • • • • • . • • . . . • •

Child's r e c o r d ....................... .


. .


Foster parent's record .....................


The Tager case . . ...........................


Parent's r e c o r d ...........................


Child's r e c o r d ............................ .


Poster parents * record •


The Jones e a s e ......... . .................... Parent's record. . . . . . . .

31 32



Child's record ..............................


Foster parent's record




PAGE The Magnin c a s e ..........................


Parents1 r e c o r d ........................


Child!s record .............................. Poster parents r r e c o r d ................. III.

36 37

ANALYSIS OP C A S E S ...........


The clothing program as it focuses the need for the parent to share the responsibility for c l o t h i n g ............................


The emotional relationship between parent and child as it is expressed throughclothing


Variations in what natural parents andfoster parents consider appropriate clothing for c h i l d r e n ................................. ..


Competition between natural parent and foster parent as expressed throughclothing IV.

• • . .

C O N C L U S I O N S ...................

71 75

BIBLIOGRAPHY ..........................................


A P P E N D I X ...............................................


CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION Tp a greater or lesser degree attention has been given in the literature of social casework to the use of the concrete service as a means of helping the parent to experi­ ence the reality situation of child placement*

Yet, the very

significant role of clothing in the child placement setting has been given little recognition*

The board payment and the

visiting plan are mentioned frequently as the focal points around which parents may become involved in the placement situation*

Forms such as the financial agreement and medical

consent are discussed from the standpoint of their intellec­ tual and emotional values in making real for the parent the implications of placement*

The importance of reception care

as a period in which the parent may test and experience separation from the child has also been pointed out in the literature*

For material on the various aspects of clothing

we must look to the allied fields of Anthropology, Sociology,' Psychology, and Education*

Their contributions, although

related to the social casework field, are approached from their own frame of reference. The staff members of the Children's Bureau, the setting for this study, were asked for records which would contain material on any or all of the following areas:

2 1*

The clothing program as it focuses the need for the parent to share the responsibility for clothing*


The emotional relationship between parent and child as it is expressed through clothing.


Variations in what natural parent and foster parent consider appropriate clothing for children.

Fifteen cases were submitted for review.

Of the total

number four placement cases were chosen which included the most ample recording relating to clothing and came within the period of the present policy.

As records for foster parents,

natural parents and children are separate, this study is based on a total of twelve records.

An important limiting factor

in the number of cases used for the study was the experimental stage of the program at the time material was selected.


program was used by some caseworkers as early as November, 1948, but uniform usage at the time of the parentrs application for placement was not practiced until March, 1949, and collec­ tion of material for this study began in December, 1949. The Children fs Bureau is a non-sectarian agency which offers the service of child placing to parents residing in the area covered by the Community Chest, the source of its funds.

Because of the existence of two sectarian placement

agencies in the city, namely, Jewish and Catholic, most clients accepted for service are members of the Protestant religion.

Eligibility requirements specify that the parent

3 pay for board, clothing, and medical care in accordance with financial ability.

The agency assumes the remainder of the

cost if the parent cannot meet the total payment.


agency’s service has undergone numerous changes because of its continued efforts to give better professional help and to fulfill immediate community needs. The Children’s Bureau is now composed of four depart­ ments z

Home Finding, Intake, Reception Care, and Foster Care.

The most recent addition is the Reception Care Department. This department works very closely with Intake, as during the initial two to six months of placement the parent and child are seen by separate workers.

The intake worker continues to

work with the parent during this period and the child is assigned to a worker in Reception Care who assumes casework responsibility for the child and the foster parent with whom the child is residing temporarily.

When parent and child are

ready for more permanent placement plans, both are transferred to the Foster Care Department.

It is the responsibility of

Home Finding to study and certificate foster homes for tempor­ ary and long time care.

In some instances foster homes are

used which have been licensed by the Los Angeles Public Welfare Commission and in which foster parents are willing to work exclusively with the Children’s Bureau.

4 I.


As background reading for the study the literature pertaining to the significance of clothing in our culture was reviewed.

To survey the total field of information is, in

itself, a monumental undertaking beyond the scope of this study.

It is, however, important to point up briefly some

established patterns of the American people which motivate the desire for and acquisition of clothing as a result of their particular setting. In their efforts to determine the original motive for the wearing of clothes, students in the fields of Anthropology and Psychology have searched for the answer in pre-human behavior, Archaeology, the study of primitive peoples and behavior in modern civilization.

Disagreement is evidenced

by the attempts of individuals and groups to emphasize one motive or another as the first reason for the use of clothing, but there is general concurrence in the fact that the three main purposes served by clothing are protection, modesty, and decoration.

The most obvious use of clothing for protection

is against heat and cold.

Mentioned less frequently, but

nonetheless significant, are the incentives to guard against other humans in warfare and sports, against animals and insects and to prevent accidents, both in sports and hazardous occupations.

The covering of the body for purposes of modesty

is, according to J. C. Flugel: • • • fan inhibitory impulse1 which (1) may be directed against social, or primarily against sexual forms of display (2) may be directed primarily against the tendency to display the naked body or primarily against the tendency to display gorgeous or beautiful clothes (3) may have reference primarily to tendencies in the self, or primarily to tendencies in others (4) may aim primarily at the prevention of desire or satisfaction (social and sexual) or, primarily at the prevention of disgust, shame or disapproval and (5) may relate to various parts of the body.1 Included as important decorative aspects of clothing are the sexual element of dressing for the attraction of the opposite sex and the arousal of envy in the same sex, the fortification of self esteem, class distinction and the dis­ play of economic wealth. To understand the motives for dress is important in the study of any given culture.

It is, however, out of the

study of fashion that we begin to see more specifically the motivation in dress of Americans.

A number of psychologists,

among whom are George Van Ness Dearborn, Elizabeth Hurlock, and Estelle de Young, have singled out for study an investi­ gation of the rise and fall of fashion, its source, and the motives which perpetuate it.

From the perusal of their works

and from first hand information available through newspapers, magazines, and other sources, the aspects common to most people in our culture in mode of dress become more clear. 1 J. C. Flugel, Psychology of Clothes (Londons Hogarth Press, 1930), p. 54.

6 During the early days of American colonization, clothing was scarce and expensive to import from European countries*

As a result every possible means was used to

preserve what clothing was available*

Some changes in dress

were made by the use of a new collar or other minor details, but fashions remained the same until the economic holdings of some colonists increased*

Prom this early period of isolation

and poverty we have arrived at a place of prominence as the best dressed people in the world.

Some recent figures issued

by the United States Department of Commerce give a dollars and cents picture of what it costs us to be the “best dressed” people.

For the period from December, 1948, through November,

1949, expenditures for men's clothing and furnishings totalled $2,235,000,000, women's apparel and accessories $4,224,000,000, family and other apparel, $1,291,000,000 and shoes for the entire population amounted to $1,482,000,000* A partial explanation of the following of fashion in the United States is found in its clothing history from an industrial point of view.

Although the Industrial Revolution,

as it effected clothing production, came later in America than in Europe, development of the clothing industry has proceeded at a more accelerated pace, so that ready-made clothing is now one of the important industries, especially 2 United States Department of Commerce, Office of Business Economics, Survey of Current Business, Supplement 8, January, 1950.

7 in the eastern part of this country.

The Chemical Revolution,

which is still at its height, has made it possible for people of all economic groups to select materials formerly within the reach of those In the higher income brackets.

We now

have a wide variety of synthetic silks, woolens, cottons, and nylons and a galaxy of combinations of these four materials from which to choose when we make our purchases.


tation facilities, too, have speeded up the delivery of clothing, not only to larger cities, but also to some of the remotest villages in America. Present day commercial interests, cognizant of the American drive to appear one's best through the medium of clothing have, in their advertising material, made every possible appeal to buying, tempting the prospective purchaser to buy on credit or through the installment plan method.


pre-holiday season brings forth a bombardment of appeals to buy through numerous avenues of communication.


store windows, newspaper ads, and magazines extoll the advantages of the wares of a particular manufacturer or retailer.

Every inducement is used to bring the customer

into the store.

Christmas and Easter are the principal

holidays which call for a total or partially new outfit for the whole family*

On Mother*s Day, Father*s Day and birthdays

the gift of clothing is greatly stressed.

Whether or not the

climatic conditions of a given locality necessitate a change

8 in apparel, for the manufacturers and retailers there are four seasons, each of whieh bring minor or major changes in color, design and materials of dress*

Even the less clothes-

conscious person finds that although he has not made any effort to find out the current trends in fashion, he does have an awareness of the latest styles* To those who cannot afford to buy ready-made clothes, or who cannot pay the price of better clothing available in the stores, the sewing machine companies make their special appeal. You can have clothes for every occasion, sport clothes, formals, at home fashions and street wear. Don*t be disappointed if your favorite clothes have too high price tags. You can duplicate them at a big saving*3 The advertisement may invite you to "dress beautifully and cut clothing costs in half.”^ Concurrent with, or substituting for the direct force of commercial interests in the promotion of fashion is the influence of the motion picture industry.

In motion pictures

we see displayed, not only the present, but also the future in fashion.

When the commercial Interests fail to reach

remote areas, movies help to fill the gap. When the material objects and the new ways that go with them have not penetrated because of the way of life ® Woman *s Home Companion, 77:116, February, 1950. 4 McCall1s » 77:76, February, 1950.

9 of that family is too firmly rooted in some tradition or the way in which the family earns its bread leaves no money to approximate an American standard of living you find the image of the new ways, of m o d e m ways, of the standard American ways, has come. It has come in the mail-order catalogue, over the radio and in the motion pictures, even if seen but twice a year. The women may still wear ealico skirts as their grandmothers did, but their daughters wear'cheap but authentic versions of the styles found on Fifth Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard.5 The reality of the external stimuli to buying cannot be denied.

Yet, we must look beyond these if we are to

understand the pronouncement of Geoffrey Gorer, the English anthropologist, who spent many years studying our culture. "The criteria for Americanism are," he proclaims, "in descend­ ing order of importance, appearance, clothes, food, housing amenities, ideology and language."®

What other explanation

can we find for the high position of clothes in the American scale of standards?

In countries in which there is a marked

differentiation between the aristocracy and persons of lowly ..position the distinction is obvious in the clothes worn by each group.

If, however, there has been a leveling process

such as exists in America, there cannot be this clear-cut distinction.

Attempts are directed, therefore, to the attain­

ment of recognition as an individual.

Margaret Mead described

5 Margaret Mead, Male and Female (New Yorkr William Morran and Company, 1949), p. 196. 6 Geoffrey Gorer, The American People (New Yorkr W. W. Norton and Company, IncTJ 1949), p. 196.

10 this process of gaining recognition as a ’’system based on a ladder up which people are supposed to move rather than on stratification or classification of society within the pigeonholes of which people are born*”

The American child is

expected to start on the social and economic level where his parents left off and compete with other children from the date of his birth until he reaches maturity.

The highest

mark of success is the attainment of money which brings to the individual and his family approval, power, and love. Only the very poor and the very rich escape from the competi­ tive game to reach this ultimate goal to success.


the opportunities for such attainment have ceased for most of the population, the struggle continues.

The myth that it is

within the reach of almost everyone to reach this high position persists and is epitomized in the phrase ’’from rags to riches,” which not only holds out the hope of ascendency, but also describes it in terms of clothing. By scrutinizing another saying which has been repeated endlessly through the medium of written material and word of mouth, namely, ’’Clothes make the man,” we find another clue to the importance of clothing in America. To stand out from the rest of the group in a way that will win its attention and approval is a desire which is almost universally found. No one likes to be considered 7 Margaret Mead, And Keep Your Powder Dry (New York* William Morrow and Company, 1943), p. 76.

11 mediocre, or to be so like everyone else that he is passed over unnoticed. Prom the cradle to the grave, no one is totally free from the regard of the opinions of others#8 In a social and economic structure such as we have in the United States there is a pressing desire to escape the mediocrity of the "average man."

Clothes of the latest fashion,

therefore, would serve two purposes.

They would impress the

group in a lower strata of society and bolster the individual who is striving to reach the next rung on the ladder of success. An extensive and impressive wardrobe gives the indi­ vidual the impetus to compete more actively in the struggle as it tends to maintain and support self esteem. time it elicits the admiration of others.

At the same

The complimentary

comment by friends and acquaintances on how one looks or is dressed is a familiar one.

This practice of admiring another!s

mode of dress has become a part of the American greeting, especially amongst women.

A failure to achieve notice through

dress is construed as a sign of disapproval.

This disapproval,

though rarely put into words, starts a chain of thoughts which pre-occupy the receiver with one or many "fears."

George Van

Ness Dearborn, who has made a special study of motivations in fashion has classified these "fears" and finds that we follow

8 Elizabeth B. Hurlock, Psychology of Dress (New Yorkr The Ronald Press Company, 1929), p. 26.

12 the fashion cycles because of the fear of (1) ridicule (2) estimation of poverty (3) inef­ ficiency or stupidity (4) numerous dermal discomforts (5) estimation of immodesty (6) estimation of lack of self respect (7) anxiety (8) estimation of lack of good taste (9) of obtrusiveness (10) of an under­ estimation of ffirst impressions* and (11) of the estimation of homeliness or lack of the desired beauty.^ Students of the history of fashion inform us that the manner of children*s dress indicates what value is placed upon them in a particular culture#

In previous periods

children were regarded as ’’adults in miniature” and wore the same style of clothing in vogue for adults.

It is interesting

to note some current trends in the opposite direction; adults dress like children as is evidenced by the popularity of mother-daughter outfits.

Clothing for children is being

styled to give them an opportunity for freedom of movement, for ease in play, and for simplification in dressing and un­ dressing.

At the same time there is the tendency in our

culture to dress children expensively because clothing is, in a subtle way, a means of displaying our wealth.

The giving

of material things has, in addition, become synonymous with the giving of love.

As J. G. Flugel points out, "Children

get very little positive satisfaction from their clothes in

9 George Van Ness Dearborn, "The Psychology of Clothing," The Psychological Monographs, 27x1-72 (Princeton, New Jerseyx Psychological Review Company, 1918).

13 the early years of lifer

elders insist upon i t . " ^


elaborate displays of infants 1 clothing in any department store give ample proof that this clothing is used to adver­ tize the monetary standing of the parent rather than the need of the child* From this concept of clothing use it is an easy step toward a realization of the meaning of new clothing and old clothing.

To dress o n e ’s children in old clothing may be an

indication of economic failure.

To receive old clothing from

persons in a higher economic level might be synonymous with receiving "charity."

Perhaps one of the few acceptable ways

of sharing used clothing is within the same economic group, preferably the groups that can afford to buy new clothing when it is needed.

Only the parent with a great deal of

inner security can give used clothing to his child.

Only the

loved child can accept old clothing. For the social worker the importance given to clothing in America has a special significance.

There may be some

isolated instances in which members of the upper middle class come to an agency for help. are in low income groups.

Mainly those who ask for service If they have always been too poor

to enter into the "fashion-game" there is apt to be a sense of failure in this fact alone. 10 Flugel,


If they have been accustomed

cit., p. 89.

14 to a higher standard of living, the present decrease in income requires an adjustment which is, oftimes, difficult to make.

In the elient-worker relationship the basic facts

which must be faced are: 1.

that it is "normal” in the American culture to desire clothing, not only for protection and modesty purposes, but even more for its decor­ ative values.


that to be fashionably dressed heightens o n e ’s self esteem and brings admiration from others.


that the advertisement of most clothing at relatively low, or "reduced" costs gives a false picture that anyone can afford to dress well and the blame for not meeting this standard falls upon those individuals who cannot maintain it.


that the facility with which credit buying and installment plan payments may be arranged stimulates many people to purchase clothing beyond their needs.


that the "clothing fears" enumerated by George Van Ness Dearborn (see page 12) are reality factors even when it is not possible to compete in the circles of fashion.

15 II.


The over-all picture of clothing programs in social casework agencies, when viewed in the light of cultural patterns reveals the need to searchlight this area and to work toward clothing services which, not only supply an economic need, but also preserve the self respect of the individual.

It is true that efforts directed toward obtain­

ing adequate budgetary allowances for people requesting financial assistance have resulted in more realistic figures for basic needs of food, shelter, and clothing. area the item of clothing has been neglected. are made by most agencies for food and shelter.

Even in this Cash payments Yet, in al­

most all general relief programs of public agencies and in many private agencies, the clothing store is used to supply clothing needs.

Not only is payment made in kind, but also

clothing is issued on an emergent basis, without consideration for planning what will be needed for designated periods, individual needs or choice of the client. The National Committee on Long Range Work and Relief Policies reported in 1942, its last available publication, that 5 In forty-five out of fifty-nine cities studied, clothing is provided only as needed and in kind. In a few cities certain items of clothing such as shoes, may be provided for by a special cash grant, although it is more usual to use the Works Progress Administra­ tion sewing projects as the source of clothing provided

16 in kind. A few cities augment this supply by agency purchases of clothing in wholesale amounts, thus pro­ viding necessary clothing not made from general relief funds.H Little if any progress has been made in public agency practice since the writing of this report#

There is some

evidence in the literature that in the field of Child Welfare, agencies have examined their clothing programs from the standpoint of economic need and casework practice. recent contributions are worthy of mention.


The Jewish Child

Care Association of New York which has as one of its functions child placing, supplies clothing for children under its care. Often, on the day of placement the worker takes the child to the agency's clothing department.

He sees some of the clothes

he will get and learns that he may keep whatever clothes he brings.

If he has no usable clothing he will receive a com­

plete outfit.

Miss Brandzel, the writer of the article,

comments that . . . if there is a bright spot at all on this day it is usually the clothing department. Children respond differently to this. Some become animated, showing an interest in their clothes and participating actively in the choice# Others move through this experience in a daze, the trauma of separation having been so great that they continue to act like little automans, not caring about clothes or anything else.1^ Report of Security Work and Belief Policies to the National Planning Board (Washington, D.C.r United States Government Printing Office, 1942), p. 584. 12 Esther S. Brandzel, An Experimental Use of the Temporary Home (New York: Child Welfare League of America, 1947), p. 15.

17 The Children's Aid Society of Delaware County, Pennsylvania is a private child placement agency that assumes responsibility for clothing children in their care.

Based on

agency experience and community thinking about the importance of adequate clothing to children and foster parents, itemized lists and estimated costs of clothing necessary for different age groups were set up within the limits of a fixed budget. For the most part the agency prefers to allow child and foster mother as much freedom as possible in planning and in selecting the clothing needed.

The parents do not supply

clothing directly with the possible exception of special items which might be given as birthday or Christmas gifts.


Fred C. Beans of the State Board of Child Welfare in New Jersey, which serves children who are wards of the State, comments that clothing is frequently the concrete evidence of what is happening to a child, a key to the many other factors in his life.

It can portray the care he is receiving in his

home, it enhances personality, builds up morale and selfconfidence, and creates the self-esteem one must have before he can expect that others will value him highly.

In the

clothing program of this agency, style, quality and economy are the primary factors in the selection of clothing for their own store.

Foster parents bring the children in their

13 Jean Farquhar, ’’Clothing Cost and Practice,” Child Welfare League of America Bulletin, 26tl0-12, December, 1947.

18 care to the clothing store for selection of properly fitted clothing of their choice. Ill,



The present clothing program of the Childrenfs Bureau is in its experimental stage, so that some parents whose children have been in placement for a long period of time are supplying clothing directly for their child as needed.


parent with financial ability assumes the total cost of board, medical care and clothing and completes a financial agreement which specifies the amount and time of payments (see Appendix).

When only partial payment can be made, it is

applied first toward the board and agency assumes payment for the remainder of the cost.

At the time of placement the

parent presents an inventory of all the clothing which the child has before entering the foster home.

Thereafter, it is

mainly the agency's responsibility to supply clothes suitable to the individual child in the particular foster home.


the program was first introduced planning was done mainly between caseworker and foster parent.

The more recent trend

is to include the parent in the various phases of planning for the child's clothing.

Ordinarily gifts of clothing from

14 Fred C. Beans, "We Clothe our Children with Con­ fidence," The Welfare Reporter, 4:12-13, November, 1949.

19 the parent are limited to special occasions such as birthdays and other holidays. A study of clothing costs was made by a committee com­ posed of professional agency personnel to determine clothing needs and expenses for children in the various age groups. The budgetary allowances for clothing as computed by the Welfare Council of Los Angeles were increased by 20 per cent to meet the standards of the agency.

These allowances are

used as a guide in planning clothing costs (see Appendix). An itemized list of suggested wardrobe and basic clothing needs was also compiled by age groups and is similarly used as a guide in planning clothing needs (see Appendix). The agency has charge accounts at several major stores which are used whenever they are accessible to the foster parent.

Cash payment in advance, or following purchases are

made in those instances in which it is not feasible to use store accounts.

On the whole clothing plans are geared to a

planned period of need.

In most instances the foster parent

makes the purchases; in individual situations the caseworker may do the buying. This clothing plan has been devised as a result of re­ thinking agency responsibility with respect to the child!s total placement situation.

Staff discussions regarding this

plan began during the latter part of 1948.

Some use was made

of the program immediately, but it was not until about March,


1949, that it was fully used in planning with parents who made application for child placement.

The agency had long

ago assumed responsibility for care of the child in finding the home in which he might make the best adjustment, for insuring full board payments to foster parents, and for twenty-four hour service to them.

Now agency sees as its

responsibility the making of final decisions in relation to clothing suitable for the child whether or not the parent is able to pay for this need.

Clothing is selected in such a

way that the child will feel part of, rather than set off from, the home and community in which he is living. IV.


With responsibilities carried in this way the agency can be aware of the problems which child, parent, and foster parent are having in the placement situation.

For the parents

such a program represents another facet of separation from the child.

In many instances parents, after testing their

own ability to deprive themselves of the satisfactions of clothing their children, come to terms with this phase of sharing responsibility with the agency.

On the other hand,

there are those parents who use the clothing program as a focal point of struggle in giving up their child.

In this

struggle the problem they have may be manifested in different ways.

21 Physical separation of the mother and child no matter how desirable does not guarantee psychological separation. This is especially true in the case of the guilty mother whose very guilt, of necessity, tightens her grip on the child.15 This mother may resist planning with agency and bring to her child expensive clothing far in excess of her financial ability.

She may attempt to make an ally of the foster

mother to strengthen her position in the exclusion of the agency.

If the child makes clothing demands of her which

she cannot meet, the mother often explains this to the child in terms of the agency’s interference.

It is not she who

wishes to deprive her child of what he is asking; it is the agency that does not permit her to comply with the child’s wishes.

Again the mother may present the problem to the

worker in the light of the child’s feeling deprived, when in reality she is the one who is feeling deprivation. The rejecting mother often reveals unrealistic attitudes through her demands that the child be "dressed up” all of the time.

For example, she may show strong disapproval of play

clothes, thus depriving the child of comfort and pleasure. The insistence upon ”dressing u p ” can be a way in which to keep visiting hours on a superficial basis.

The child who Is

wearing his best clothes has learned from adults that this manner of dress demands a more formal behavior than do play 15 Dorothy Hutchinson, ”The Parent-Child Relationship as a Factor in Child Placement,” Journal of Social Casework, 26x48, April, 1946.



The persistent request to clothe the little girl in

frilly and elaborate garments often means that the parent is denying the child her rights as an individual who feels pleasure and pain*

The mother needs to look upon her as a

dressed-up doll* Some parents may show their feelings of non-acceptance of the clothing program by omitting the clothing payment* Others present the argument that they can purchase more economically themselves*

Still others are fearful of losing

their child to the foster mother if they give up the purchase of clothing*

In all instances the parent comes to the agency

with his own past experiences*

Deprivation of clothing

during childhood may prompt the parent to give plentifully to own children or, the parent, though resenting his own un­ satisfying experiences with clothing may act out the role of the depriving parent with the child* A familiar problem is the parent’s wish to single out certain items of clothing to purchase for the child.


outer garments and shoes seem to be more important than are the undergarments.

Most parents have the need to present

their children, on the day of placement, clothes.

in their very best

This serves the double purpose of revealing to

others the care they have given the child and of exhibiting the child at his best to agency and foster mother* The child, too, acts out his difficulties with placement

23 through the medium of clothing in the foster home*


struggle between foster parent and own parent over his clothing may aggravate his insecurity*

When he is unsure of

being loved he may dress in a way which will gain approval from parent or foster parent.

The feeling of insecurity may

be expressed by requests to be dressed in the same way as foster parents clothe their own children.

Often the child

complains to the parent about the way in which his clothing is supplied in the foster home as a means of expressing his dissatisfaction with placement.

"The hostile child who

resents placement may destroy clothing rather deliberately as an aggressive gesture toward the authority of the agency and foster parents." Unrealistic giving of clothing on the part of foster parent and natural parent denies the child the right to participate in clothing selections from the standpoint of individuality, learning to make choices and coming to terms with reality limitations.

If we expect the child to develop

into an adult capable of independence, he must have the opportunity at every stage in his growth to experience, within his capacity, the limits and choices in everyday living.

Overemphasis on clothing-giving by the parent may

obscure the true parent-child relationship. 16 Farquhar,


cit., p. 11.

When the

24 responsibility for clothing rests mainly with the agency, both parent and child have a better opportunity to find out the exact nature of reality ties* The foster parent also experiences a period of adjust­ ment to her role with respect to agency, parent, and child. Often foster children and foster parents have more difficulty with the amount of clothing needed and the cost than children living with their parents because this is a pretty tangible thing on which to put the feelings that arise in the course of the many adjust­ ments a child and foster parents must make in learning to live together* 1*7 Insecurity in her role with the agency may be expressed by the foster parentfs hesitancy in making clothing purchases* Non-acceptance of the agency*s clothing program because of unsureness or her own feelings about depriving parents of the pleasure of giving clothes to their children may lead her into an agreement with the parent which excludes the agency* Application to the agency for use as a foster parent may have cloaked an underlying desire to adopt a child.

The wish

to have the foster child for an own child is sometimes revealed in the simple request to make mother-daughter dresses. The foster parents also may have unrealistic attitudes toward the clothing of children.

The child*s depleted clothing

supply or shabby apparel at the time of placement colors the initial acceptance of the child.

17 Ibid., p. II.

25 We see in this brief description some of the casework implications of a clothing program in relationships with parent, foster parent and child*

Bach must undergo a period

of adjustment; each may present his conflict in a little different way.

To the parent the program represents mainly

a giving up of responsibility to agency; to the foster parent it represents an assumption of shared responsibility with agency and parent.

For the child it presents one of

the many adjustments which he must make in learning to live in a placement situation. The material covered to this point has been a statement of the problem, a description of the method, limitations in scope and over-all view of agency setting.

There followed

a review of selected literature on the cultural aspects of clothing, a description of clothing programs in the field of social casework and the specific clothing program chosen for study.

The last portion of the chapter was devoted to the

casework aspects involved in the use of a clothing program. In the second chapter the factual information in the case records studied will be summarized.

A third chapter will

contain an analysis of case material from the standpoint of the four factors previously presented. will appear the findings of the study.

In the final chapter

CHAPTER II SUMMARY OP BACKGROUND MATERIAL IN THE CASE RECORDS In view of the fact that there are three records for each case, a summary of the parent, child, and foster parent cases has been completed in order to give some orientation to the background material necessary for an understanding of the specific case.

Clothing aspects pertinent to the casework

program will be discussed in the following chapter.

In some

instances replacements have occurred during the period' selected for study; in such instances, only the foster parent record which relates to the present placement has been summarized. Mrs. Norman and Miss Tager, whose cases are presented first, were both known to the agency prior to the use of the new clothing program.

Upon re-application for service one of

the adjustments which they needed to make was the change in policy with regard to clothing purchases.

Miss Jones and

Mrs. Magnin did not have this particular problem as they made application for the first time after the new policy was in effect. I. Parent1s record*

THE NORMAN CASE Mrs. Norman, now aged thirty,

originally made application to the ChildrenTs Bureau on

27 November 30, 1943, after referral by a family agency for help in arranging placement of her only child, Nickie Hose, born March 8, 1938. are unknown.

The whereabouts of the putative father

About one year after the child’s birth the

mother married Louis Norman.

This marriage was of short

duration and when Mrs. Norman separated from her husband she tried several parent-child homes as a way of keeping Nickie with her.

Just prior to application, Nickie was given care

in the day nursery while Mrs. Norman worked.

This, arrangement

was unsatisfactory to the mother who wanted twenty-four hour placement for the child.

Nickie was in placement with the

agency from January, 1944, to August, 1948, at which time the mother hastily removed the child from placement in order to resume a parent-child arrangement. On November 3, 1948, Mrs. Norman re-applied for place-' ment of Nickie explaining that her plan had not worked out successfully and she could find no adequate housing at a reasonable rental as her financial resources were depleted. During the placement period Mrs. Norman has had irregular employment as a clerical worker in a local bank.

While she

is employed she makes partial payments for Nickiefs care. However, when her last employment terminated she wanted to pay more than was realistically possible and needed help in accepting the lesser amount. Mrs. Norman states frankly that she has not accepted

28 placement and has focused most of her struggle around visiting and the clothing program.

There have been some discussions

of application for Aid to Needy Children, but Mrs. Norman is undecided as to whether or not she wished to carry out this plan. Child1s record.

During the period from January 27,

1944, to August, 1948, Nickie, age 11, was placed in four foster homes.

Replacements were the result of emergency

illness in one of the foster homes and the fact that the child presented behavior problems of l'ieing and stealing.

After the

motherTs re-application Nickie was placed in a reception home on December 50, 1948.

She remained there until June 17, 1948,

at which time she moved into a long-time home.

At this time

she is described as an unusually mature child from a physical standpoint.

In addition, she seems to have had a great deal

of emotional responsibility thrust upon her by her mother and makes the general impression of being two or three years older than her actual eleven years. Foster parentfs record.

Mrs. Ritmer, now forty-seven

years old and her husband, aged forty-nine, made re-application to the Foster Care Department on December 9, 1948.

In August

of 1947 the foster mother had made an independent placement arrangement and wanted to complete plans for working girls to live in her home.

For this reason the agency ceased to use

29 the Ritmer home.

At time of the second application Mr. and

Mrs. Ritmer decided that they wanted to change from their previous plan of having f,teen age11 girls in the home to one of having younger girls.

The home study revealed that the

foster parents had many positive qualifications.

The foster

parents indicated an ability to share a child with parents and agency, appeared stable in their marital relationship, and had a comfortable way of getting acquainted with people. Mrs. Ritmer was described as a person with a great deal of warmth, understanding and sensitivity to children.

She did,

however, have a tendency to discuss plans with parents. Mr. Ritmer and their married daughter, aged twentyfour, who lives in a separate apartment in* the same home, take* active roles in placement.

At present Sally, born

December 30, 1943, and Pearl, born December 1, 1938, both placed by the agency, are also in the Ritmer home. II. Parent *s record.

THE TAGER CASE Miss Tager, an unmarried mother

thirty-seven years of age, made re-application to Childrenfs Bureau on December 12, 1948, for placement of her only child, Ruth Ellen, born September 4, 1947.

At the time of first

application Miss Tager was referred by a local adoption agency after she had decided against adoption for her child.


Tager was engaged to the alleged father, Paul Roach, aged

30 forty-one for two years prior to her pregnancy and had in­ formed her family, living in the Mid-western part of the United States that she was married to him.

Mr. Roach was to

be put under court order to contribute toward tho support of Ruth Ellen.

At the time of re-application, however, and

throughout the activity of the case he paid nothing for the child's maintenance.

Miss Tager planned to return to her

relatives within about a year; for the present she wished to place her child and continue her work as a bookkeeper. Ellen entered placement on January 5, 1948.


In June of 1948

the mother moved into the foster home after making her own plans with the foster parents for a parent-child arrangement. The agency remained active on the case until October, 1948, for the sole purpose of completing medical plans initiated before Miss Tager decided to move into the foster home. Later the foster parents moved out of the county. Because of the factors of time and distance now involved and the fact that Miss Tager believed the foster family was now showing a diminishing interest in her child, due to their pre-occupation with farm activities, she requested replacement of Ruth Ellen. In December, 1949, Ruth Ellen was removed from place­ ment at the request of her mother who planned to return to her family within that month.

During the activity of this

case Miss Tager made only partial payment for care as her

31 earnings of $174.00 were not sufficient to meet both her own financial needs and the total cost of care. Child»s record.

Ruth Ellen, age 2, is described as an

alert, intelligent and happy child who made a satisfactory adjustment in both of the foster homes in which she was placed.

At the time of the second placement, March 31, 1949,

it was noted that the child was /unable to differentiate her mother "from any other lady.11

By the time this placement

terminated, Ruth Ellen was very well aware of her own mother as differentiated from her foster mother. Foster parents1 record.

Mrs. Lowell, a widow aged

sixty-three applied to Childrenfs Bureau in 1936.


initial purpose in boarding children does not appear in the record.

From 1936 to the time of Ruth Ellen*s entry into

this home the foster mother had eighteen placed children, all of whom were under one year of age.

She is described as

a warm-natured, motherly person who makes babies comfortable and secure.

It has been her tendency to become somewhat

involved with parents around the problems of the children and around various concrete aspects of foster care.

At the time

of the most recent study of the home, early in 1949, it was recommended that the foster mother be given help in under­ standing her role in placement as it related to the caseworker and natural parents in these areas.

During her long experience

52 with the agency Mrs, Lowell has been accepting of change, especially at times of removal and placement of children. III. Parent1s record.

THE JONES CASE Miss Jones, an unmarried American

born Negro, aged twenty-two, applied at Childrenfs Bureau on January 15, 1949, upon referral by the Barnard Hospital, for placement of her only child, John Arthur, b o m November 30, 1948, in Los Angeles.

The putative father is in the armed

forces and is stationed outside of the United States*


Jones has been unwilling to include him in any part of the planning and has insisted that she ’’did not want to go to him for support or anything else.”

When she learned of her

pregnancy in April of 1948 she left the state of her residence and came directly to Los Angeles.

A short time before making

application for placement, she wrote to her grandparents with whom she had lived most of her life, to explain her present situation.

She was concerned, primarily, about what they

would ’’think of her now, as they have always respected and looked up to her.”

Now, she feared, they would be disappointed.

Prom the beginning Miss Jones planned to find employment and to arrange some plan of care for her child.

She was un­

decided, however, about using the type of care offered by the agency and wanted to think over the possibilities in parentchild homes or independent placement.

It was not until March

33 22, 1949, that she made her choice to plan for placement with Children's Bureau.

She had prospects of work as a domestic

at $126 a month in addition to room and board.

While the

agency planned to assume full payment for tho child's care during the first two months, Miss Jones indicated her willing­ ness to begin payment of $56 a month, the total cost of care, before the termination of this period. During the placement period Miss Jones showed a growing resentment of agency limitations on visiting and clothing policy.

It was felt, too, that she was unduly anxious about

the physical condition of her child.

On September 28, 1948,

the agency consulted a psychiatrist to learn more about the meaning of her behavior.

It was his recommendation that more

frequent visiting in the foster home and opportunities for feeding her child on such occasions might ease the situation. Although there was some diminution of hostility, Miss Jones was unable to accept agency limitations and on February 2, 1950, she removed John from the foster home.

She had made

her own plans to place him in a private home. Child*s record.

At the time of placement, April 19,

1948, John, age 1, was described as an alert, happy, healthy child who was well developed for his age.

About a month

after placement medical care was needed as he caught a cold which persisted for quite some time.

The agency doctor who

34 examined John frequently, found him to be an allergic baby with enlarged tonsils and adenoids.

When Miss Jones insisted

that John needed circumcision this information was given to the doctor who could see no iirgency for such an operation. Despite the frequent colds, the child developed normally during placement; he walked at fourteen months and could say a few words.

According to the reeord Miss Jones* visits were

filled with emotional tensions and were characterized by a fervent elinging to the ehild.

Joh n ’s negative response to

his mother’s grasp upon him was apparent to the caseworkers and the foster mother. Foster parent *s reeord.

Mrs. Fisher, aged thirty-

seven, and her husband, aged thirty-eight, both American born Negroes made application to the Foster Care Department on May 14, 1947. 1932.

Their only child is a girl, born September 1,

At the time of initial study of the home Mrs. Fisher

stated that she wanted to put an extra room in the house to use by helping children who needed a place to live.


April 17, 1947, to the date of J o h n ’s entry into her home four agency placements of babies had been made.

Eaeh child

left the home after completion of the pre-arranged casework plan.

Mrs. Fisher’s chief assets as a foster mother are

described as her real affeetion for children, her ability to observe children closely, her capacity to follow through on

intricate planning for the child and her acceptance of parental visiting.

According to the record her routine for

physical care is well planned and she is careful to follow through on medical care and other processes.

Her husband

and daughter, too, assume active roles in the placements. Until specific regulations were set up in this home, parents of placed children continued to assume responsibility for clothing,.haircuts, and other minor duties,

during the

period of John's placement there were frequent discussions between foster mother and caseworker regarding the planning of clothing needs. IV. Parents 1 record.

THE MAGNIN CASE Mr. and Mrs. Magnin, both twenty-

eight years of age applied at Children's Bureau on November 26, 1948, for placement of their only child, Lana Sue, born in . Los Angeles in June of 1948.

Mr. Magnin was born in Canada

and is of the Jewish religion; Mrs. Magnin was born in New Guinea and is of the Protestant religion.

They were married

six and one half years ago while Mr. Magnin was serving in the armed forces.

Although at the time of request for place­

ment the couple was living together, Mrs. Magnin had definitely decided to separate from her husband because of his dependence on his family and their unfriendly attitude toward her.


could not accept Mr. Magnin*s reliance on his parents as in

36 her own family independence was stressed.

In addition, it

appeared to her that Mr. Magnin’s family is overly emotional and she refers to herself as a ’’reserved person who does not give much emotional expression.” At the time of legal separation in January of 1949 Mrs. Magnin was given custody of the child and her husband was ordered to pay $60 toward the child’s support.

It was Mrs*

Magnin’s original plan to return to New Guinea with Lana Sue within a period of six months.

Subsequently she set the time

of departure at a year, then at two years, giving as her reason the difficulty in obtaining passage and her own in­ decision as to whether or not she wanted to return to her own country.

Shortly after Lana Sue was placed by the agency

Mr. Magnin went to Idaho, presumably to look for work. Planning from that time to the present has been almost ex­ clusively with Mrs. Magnin.

Mr. Magnin continues to send

irregular payments for the child’s support, but has evidenced little interest in other aspects of placement planning.


Magnin, who is described as an attractive and well-dressed woman obtained employment as the salesmanager in a small dress shop several months after placement and makes partial payment for Lana S u e ’s care. Child’s record.

Prom the date of the first meeting

Lana Sue, age 1, related positively to the caseworker.


37 was the caseworker’s observation that the child had derived a good deal of basic security in the home of her parents. She developed well in the reception home, where she r emained from January 18, 1949, to October 27, 1949#

Lana at that

time appeared to be alert and responsive and seemed to be a child who could let herself be helped when she needed it# She showed both anger and affection easily.

The child had

remained in the reception home a somewhat longer period than had been planned partly because of Mrs. Magnin!s uncertainty about continued placement.

Separation from the foster family

was difficult for Lana Sue as she had become the favorite foster child in this reception home. present home has been slower.

Her adjustment in the

She has had some problems

around repression in toilet training and spitting up of food. There exists a good deal of rivalry between Lana Sue and the LeepersT three-year-old adopted son, Johnny. Foster parents’ record.

Mrs. Leeper, aged twenty-

seven and her Australian born husband aged thirty-one made application to the Foster Care Department on December 1, 1948. From the beginning of the study of this home the caseworker felt that the couple showed a strong interest in a second adoption.

Johnny had been adopted when he was an infant.

Because of their persistent interest in boarding, their response in sharing with the agency, their ’’togetherness” in

58 planning and their relationship to Johnny, who seemed well adjusted although somewhat over-protected, it was decided that Childrenfs Bureau would use this home.

It was recognized,

however, that the couple would need some help in making use of the caseworker.

Lana Sue was the first child placed in the

Leeper home. Of the four cases studied three of the children were infants to two years of age.

For this reason the following

analysis is based primarily on feelings around clothing as expressed by the mother and the foster mother in relating to placement.

CHAPTER III ANALYSIS OF CASES The introductory chapter contained a brief explanation of the four factors selected for this study.

For purposes of

ease in relating the case material presented in Chapter II to the four areas to be analyzed, they are again being enumerated 1.

The clothing program as it focuses the need for the parent to share the responsibility for clothing.


The emotional relationship between parent and child as it is expressed through clothing.


Variations in what natural parent and foster parent consider appropriate clothing for children.


Competition between natural parent and foster parent as expressed through clothing.

Case material pertinent to each of these factors will be presented in the order mentioned.

After the discussion of

each factor there will appear a summarized statement of the important elements exemplified by the selected material. The terms "child's worker" and "parent worker" are used frequently in the case recordings.

As has already been

pointed out, there are two caseworkers assigned to the family during the early placement period, or reception period.


caseworker who interviews the child and foster parents during

40 this period is called the "child*s worker"; the caseworker assigned to the parent is known as the "parent worker."


the child remains in placement subsequent to the reception period, one worker sees parent, child,.and foster parents. In the presentation of material the term "caseworker" will be used only when the child has moved from reception care to a long time care placement. I.


THE PARENT TO SHARE THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR CLOTHING During the pre-placement period there is some dis­ cussion with the parent regarding the clothing program as a part of the total agency service.

Because the foster parent

has an active role in selecting and purchasing the clothing, she too, is informed of the service as it is administered by the agency.

In view of the fact that final decisions relating

to clothing needs of the child rest mainly with the agency, both natural parent and foster parent experience a situation of sharing with the agency.

In presenting excerpts from case

records, an attempt has been made to follow the steps taken by the natural parent in this sharing process from the pre­ placement period to the point of present activity, or to the end of placement, if the child has been removed from the foster home to return to the parent.

All material relating

to foster parents will begin with the date of placement of

41 the children selected for this study. The following four excerpts taken from the records were selected to ascertain the response of these four parents to the clothing program when it is originally presented. •A review of the material reveals no discussion of the clothing program by the parent worker or Miss Jones.

Case material is,

therefore, limited to three parents for this portion of the s tudy• When, in the pre-placement period the clothing plan was explained to Miss Tager, "she did not raise question or make comment about the clothing program directly.

. . . ”

At the time the parent worker explained clothing pro­ cedure to Mrs. Magnin she "raised no question.



seemed to be able to accept the fact that clothing purchases would be planned with the foster parent together with the child1s worker. On the date that Mrs. Norman requested replacement for her daughter, Nickie, the parent worker explained some of the changes in agency procedure which had occurred after the mother had terminated her contact with

the agency.

this explanation included the clothing

program asit is now


Part of

Mrs. Norman's response was immediate£

understand what you mean.


The caseworker has more control of

what happens instead of the mother and take care of it between them."

the people

trying to

42 In the pre-placement period, when the parent worker is helping the client to gain an intellectual understanding of the clothing program as it is administered by the agency, we find only one parent who verbalized any negative response to the plan.

Mrs. Normanfs first reaction to the agency!s way

of providing clothing for her child implies that it is con­ trolling and authoritative in relation to both mother and foster parents. The agency recognizes that after the child is placed the parent may, for a number of reasons, wish to bring clothing to the child.

The parent is, therefore, requested

to plan this in advance with the parent worker.


after placement of Lana Sue, Mrs. Magnin, the mother, decided to supply some clothing for her.

The parent worker records

that: Mrs. Magnin brought some items of clothing to the agency. The foster mother, she said, had mentioned that Lana Sue needs shoes and some sleeping garments •

Later the following entry was made in the records As the shoes were so large that Lana would not be able to wear them for some time, the childfs worker decided to return them to Mrs. Magnin* The need for shoes is recognized by parent, foster parent and childfs worker; the selection of shoes is made, however, on the basis

of adequacy at the time of need as

determined by the agency.

It is the

agency, not Mrs. Magnin,

43 that has final decision in the way this particular clothing need will be met.

This reality situation illustrates one way

in which the parent experiences a giving up of responsibility to the agency.

It would appear, however, that some discussion

around Mrs. Magnin’s need to bring the shoes to her child would have been helpful to the mother. It should be noted, too, that the foster parent is asked to discuss all clothing needs of the child with the child’s worker.

In this brief excerpt from the record we see

the tendency on the part of both mother and foster parent to exclude the agency from the planning of clothing for the child.

Additional examples of this tendency will be pointed

out as the case material is discussed. Some of the difficulties which parents experience in accepting a sharing of responsibility in supplying clothing for the child are expressed overtly around the financial payment for this budgetary item and discussions of clothing purchases, either proposed or completed.

It is here that the

intellectual and reality experience may merge and focus for the parent her actual feelings of emotional acceptance of the plan. During an office interview, Mrs. Magnin and the case­ worker diseussed L a n a ’s clothing needs. Mrs. Magnin told at great length of the packages sent by her mother. She particularly mentioned crocheted and knitted dresses in connection with these packages. The

44 caseworker told her of the inventory she had made with Mrs* Leeper, the foster mother, and of the fact that Lana Sue had more pretty clothes than she could use, but did not have some of the more practical things she needed. Mrs. Magnin said this was not her fault, that Lana Sue had always been well provided for, in fact, that she had enough clothes to last 'two years'. • . • The caseworker told her that the lack of clothing was nobody's fault, and tried to point out that if the foster mother could purchase the everyday items of clothing such as underwear, socks, and shoes, as a routine matter, after planning with the agency, it would, no doubt, be more satisfactory. • . • Mrs. Magnin later said that her parents could help by sending clothes but could not send money to her and she did not see how she could keep friends and relatives from doing things for Lana Sue. She and the caseworker then talked a little about the special occasions and the caseworker felt that if Mrs. Magnin could look at the over-all picture and try to see why the purchase of socks, panties, etc. were merely a part of living rather than a part of gift-giving, she could handle the matter with her family and friends. ... At one point she had referred to the fact that her account with the agency is far in arrears and this was another reason she liked to have friends furnish Lana Sue's clothing instead of having it purchased through the agency. . . . When the caseworker mentioned play clothes, she was again immediately on the defensive, saying that Lana Sue had some play suits and that they did nicely for the summer, that warmer ones had not been provided as the weather had not yet been cold. The caseworker told her she realized that until now Lana Sue had not needed warm play clothes, but explained to her that since she did need them now Mrs. Leeper, would, of course, be more aware of the need than Mrs. Magnin and could buy such things at the same time as she buys clothes for Johnny. Whereas Mrs. Magnin raised no question about the clothing program initially, the proposed plan to purchase items of apparel for her child focused for her the meaning of sharing the child with the agency.

She now realizes that the

clothing plan denies her of the satisfactions of gifts from her parents and friends.

She adds that her own way of providing

45 clothes for Lana Sue enables her to manage the financial payment to the agency with less difficulty.

When the case­

worker mentions the need for play clothes, Mrs. Magnin thinks of herself as the person to supply this clothing item and expresses this by saying warmer play clothes ’’had not been provided as the weather had not been cold.” Although the caseworker interprets the agency’s plan to Mrs. Magnin in terms of the mother’s own situation, she fails to give verbal recognition of the feeling of separation which Mrs. Magnin feels during the discussion of the child’s clothing needs. Miss Tager utilizes the financial factor almost ex­ clusively as the focal point of conflict in sharing with the agency the provision of clothing for her child.

In the

recording of an interview with Miss Tager, about five weeks • after placement of Ruth Ellen, the parent worker made the following entry:. There' is one factor which indicated that Miss Tager has much question about foster care and that is that she has been sending payment for the boarding care only, not including medical and clothing* I spoke of this now saying that I wondered if she is not finding things about the way we work now that she is not liking for herself. Her first response was that Huth Ellen has so much clothing that she should not need anything while she is in the reception home. I said she is not quite sure about our new clothing program then and this new program is for longer time care as well as reception care and this is different from the former placement. She moved away from consideration of what this means to her into saying that it was really a matter of funds. . . I suggested that we could work out a new agreement and


that if her income and expenses are such that she cannot meet the whole of the care we can make an agreement for her share to be reduced. She did not want to consider that, she said, and asked if it could not wait a few weeks until she knew a little more how the support would be settled. And we left this that we would discuss it again in our next appointment* She added that she would try to send the $2 for the medical care. Before the recording of the parent worker's next inter­ view with Miss Tager she summarized what information she had of Miss Tagerfs activities during the period between office interviews. Since the last appointment Miss Tager has increased her payments adding $2 to each check but she is still $2 short each month according to the agreement. The child's worker had told me that the mother had brought two dresses for Ruth Ellen which had been made by an aunt. . . . The better dresses she had are either wearing out or are too small. The child’s worker had approved the purchase of two dresses. During the actual interview with Miss Tager, the parent worker enters the discussion which took place about this purchase. I told her about the purchase of the dresses and she could not understand why it was necessary to purchase any more. Also, if Ruth Ellen needed dresses why could she not get them? I said that it was hard to give up the purchase of clothing for o n e ’s child and it is some­ thing a person does get pleasure out of. She said firmly that that was not the question. After all she could make dresses more cheaply than they can be purchased. We note that in the first interview with Miss Tager she asked to postpone a reconsideration of her payment ’’until she knew a little more how the support would be settled,” This interview occurred on May 11, 1949, and the child

47 remained in placement until December 9, 1949.

The amount of

support which the father was to contribute was not settled during the total period of placement. In this first interview, too, Miss Tager makes a choice in the item for which she will fry to send payment. Her financial statement indicated that she was not including the medical and clothing items; she decided that she ’’would try to send $2 for the medical care” rather than for the clothing. At the time of the second interview, Miss Tager states quite frankly that she wants to buy whatever clothing her child may need.

This mother emphasized the economic saving

which could be made if she supplied the clothing.


the placement period the agency purchased clothing for Ruth Ellen when it was needed.

She was aware of this action on

the part, of the agency, but she continued to bring the child clothing ’’from time to time which had been sent to her from her family.

. . . ”

Although Mrs. Norman was able to give some expression to her feelings about sharing responsibility with the agency in supplying clothing needs for Niekie prior to placement, the proposed plan to purchase shoes for the child provided a concrete experience which had meaning for the mother in terms of the reality of placement.

During the early months of

placement, the child’s worker learned that Nickie needed new

48 shoes.

As, in the past, Mrs. Norman had purchased orthopedic

shoes for Nickie, the child!s worker decided to arrange for examination by a doctor to ascertain the kind of shoes she now needed.

The parent worker explained this in a telephone

conversation with Mrs. Norman. The doctor had examined Nickie!s feet, measured the legs and thought there was no need for corrective shoes. ... About the corrective shoes (Mrs. Norman) did not say directly that this had been her own idea but indi­ cated that she had thought they would help Nickie fs walking as she swings one foot out, but if the doctor said.she d idn’t need them that was all right. At the time of her next office interview with the parent worker, Mrs. Norman pulled several sheets of paper from her purse.and handed them to the parent worker explain­ ing that she had been writing a letter to her sister and in it she had written about placement as she sees it at this f


Near the top of the first sheet she had written, flI

do not think a foster home is the answer for us.”

This was

followed by statements about the agency’s assuming responsi­ bility for clothing and medical care.

Another sheet of paper

included ’’Suggestions for a Spring Wardrobe.”

As the parent

worker reviewed this sheet she noticed that ’’the most specific planning was in relation to shoes.” When the parent worker completed this sheet Mrs. Norman utilized it to speak first about shoes, questioning the usefulness of -the kind that had been purchased and that although the physician thought corrective shoes unnecessary she had felt that they would be of help in walking.

49 For Mrs* Norman the agency’s plan to purchase shoes becomes one focal point around which she questions the total placement situation as a desirable plan for herself and her child* Up to this point discussion of the clothing program as it focuses the need for shared responsibility has been limited to the parent*

The foster mother, too, may experience some

conflict in accepting the program*

Often her own feelings of

insecurity in her role, her own need to please the parent, or her desire to form personal relationships with the parent tend to align her with the parent and to exclude the agency*


the natural mother has a particular problem in sharing responsi­ bility for clothing with the agency, the foster mother may become the target of the parent in her struggle to accept the clothing program. One example of the problem created for the foster mother is illustrated by the case of Mrs. Leeper, in whose home Lana Sue Magnin was placed for long time care. Early in the placement period Mrs* Magnin had brought up the matter of clothing with the foster mother* She was telling Mrs* Leeper that she receives so many gifts of clothing for the child and that friends are constantly asking what they can buy for her so she thought L a n a ’s needs could be met in this way. . • • Mrs. Leeper had suggested that the mother discuss the matter of gifts of clothing with the worker. About four months after Lana Sue was placed in the Leeper home, Mr. and Mrs. Leeper decided to talk with the

50 caseworker about what placement of the child had meant to them. Mr. Leeper told the caseworker that when Lana was placed they could not understand the agencyfs inter­ ference, that is, they thought it 1silly1 that a worker should call frequently and that clothing and medical care should be arranged by agency when the primary con­ cern was providing good care for a child who was getting along well. . . . Mrs. Leeper said she also found it hard not to let Mrs. Magnin bring clothes for Lana and implied that the agency policy was unreasonable. At the beginning of the placement period Mrs. Leeper seemed able to accept the clothing program.

As placement

progressed she moved toward alignment with the mother because of her own feelings about sharing the child with the agency and her identification with the mother. Mrs. Lowell, the foster mother for Ruth Ellen Tager, expressed her problem in a different way.

She explained to

the child’s worker that she has not requested clothing for the child because Miss Tager had spoken during her visits to the home of her financial problems.

It was only after

several months of placement that Mrs. Lowell began to share quite completely with the child’s worker her own-feelings about clothing for the child. In an interview with the child’s worker Mrs. Lowell explained that she had not requested much clothing partly because the mother does not have too much money. The child’s worker told Mrs. Lowell that this factor should not be too much of a concern to her. If she felt that Ruth needed clothing this was something to take up

51 with, the worker and together they would determine what they could spend for her* The worker recognized that many mothers who placed their children did not have an excess of money, but Childrenfs Bureau felt that the children in placement should have an adequate amount of clothing* After this discussion Mrs* Lowell was able to request clothing which she thought the child needed at various times during the placement period*

About a month prior to Ruth

E l l e n fs removal from placement, Mrs. Lowell requested several items of clothing for the child*

One of the articles she

wanted to purchase was a coat for the child. Mrs. Lowell felt that Ruth needed a coat since the snow suit that her mother was planning to take her home in was rather small. . • • Mrs. Lowell tried Ruth's coat on to show the childfs worker and although the coat was rather small for the child, this was one expense that the worker did not think the mother wished the agency to incur at this time. In this situation the purchase of clothing was not authorized as the mother was planning to remove the child from placement within a short period of time and would then assume full responsibility for supplying the child's clothing needs. In these brief excerpts we see that the foster mother's early reluctance to assume her share of responsibility in meeting the child's clothing needs.

The support of the case­

worker assisted her in taking her part in the program.


Lowell also experiences the need to share with the mother, just prior to the termination of placement, when she would

52 like to have a coat for Ruth Ellen.

Because the mother was

going to be fully responsible for the childfs clothing needs within a short time, her decision regarding the purchase of a coat took precedence over the neod as the foster mother saw it* Miss Jones could bring to her caseworker very little of her feelings about sharing clothing purchases for her child with the agency.

She did, however, use the foster

mother as the target for her expressions of inability to give over to agency this aspect of providing for her child. Almost four months subsequent to John's placement in the Fisher home, Mrs. Fisher notified the childfs worker that she "would like to make a different arrangement for Johnnyfs clothing.

She told the child's worker that Miss Jones "has

been nagging her a good bit about Johnny's clothing."


the foster mother had explained the nature of the conflict between herself and Miss Jones, the child's worker pointed out that it was the foster mother's responsibility to purchase clothing for the child.

If Miss Jones was unable to accept

this plan she would need to talk with her own caseworker about 'it. About a month later the child's worker learned from Mrs. Fisher that Miss Jones planned to remove the child from placement in the following month.

53 Miss Jones had just announced this to her and had expressed a good deal of resentment over her experience with the agency* Miss Jones had also asked if the foster mother would take Johnny on an independent basis* . * . She talked of her dissatisfaction with the various limits placed upon her. • • • She mentioned further that she wanted to buy the.clothes* * * * 5

During one of Miss Jones1 visits to the foster home she told Mrs. Fisher of her plan to bring Johnny a coat for $27.00.

Mrs. Fisher, in turn discussed this proposed

purchase with the child's worker* Both Mrs. Fisher and the childrs worker agreed that $27.00 was entirely too much to pay for a coat for a child Johnny1s age and Mrs. Fisher was concerned whether we would ask her to make this purchase. The child1s worker did not think that Childrenfs Bureau could go along with such an expensive purchase since the agency thought adequate clothing could be purchased for a lot less. A few weeks before Miss Jones had made the definite decision to remove Johnny from placement the foster mother related the discussion about clothing which took place between herself and the mother. She had asked to have some of Johnnyfs clothing to take home with her now but Mrs. Fisher said she would pack it along with the rest of Johnny's things when he moved from her home* She left the home in quite a huff about this old clothing and wanted it and Mrs. Fisher told her that she could take this up with her own worker. Within a short time before the childrs removal from the home, Mrs. Fisher asked the child*s worker if she could be authorized to buy some new shoes for Johnny. After speaking to the parent worker, the child1s worker told Mrs. Fisher not to purchase this clothing for Johnny. It was the parent worker's opinion that

54 Miss Jones was going to have a hard enough time paying up her board without having to pay for the extra clothing as well.* Mrs* Fisher, who showed a tendency to form personal relationships with other natural parents had become involved with Miss Jones in discussions►of clothing*

When the situ­

ation reached a critical stage she presented the problem to the childfs worker.

Mrs* Fisherfs first plan was to withdraw

from all responsibility in buying the childfs clothes*


some help from the childrs worker in clarifying her role, the foster mother was able to assume this responsibility and to share more freely with the agency any other difficulties which arose in the relationship with Miss Jones* enced a sharing with the mother, when,

She also experi­

just before the child*s

removal from placement, the childfs worker explained that the purchase of extra clothing at this point would create a hard­ ship for Miss Jones* An analysis of this first factor reveals that the initial explanation of the clothing program prior to the childfs placement had little meaning to most of the mothers. They expressed their feelings of conflict as the placement progressed through discussions of financial payments or around specific proposed or completed purchases.

These con­

crete experiences seemed to focus for the parents the real meaning of sharing with agency in the matter of supplying the child*s clothing needs in a placement situation.

55 The foster parents showed the need for help in assuming their share of responsibility in supplying clothing for the child and of sharing with the agency the problems which arose when parents used the clothing program as a focal point of struggle with placement. II.


One way of learning the nature of the emotional rela­ tionship between parent and child is through clothing.


way in which the parent dresses the child, the selection of clothes, the special importance of some items of dress,


cost and abundance of wearing apparel all have meaning in the parent-child relationship.

In the placement situation in

which the agency assumes a great deal of responsibility in deciding what clothing the child will require, the mother faces an adjustment in sharing with the agency this important part of the childfs care.

Payment to the agency for needed

clothing may deprive her of the satisfactions of direct giving which so often takes the form of clothing. The case material presented at this point was selected to illustrate the meaning which clothing has for the four parents studied as it relates to the child prior to placement and as it is evidenced in the placement situation. In the interviews with M r s . Magnin prior to placement,

56 she informed the parent worker that Lana Sue had clothing that would last for quite some time, as she had been given a great deal and some of it in such sizes that Lana Sue will be amply clothed until she is a good deal over one year old* Apparently the only thing that might come up in terms of clothing would be the purchase of shoes* A few days after placement the childTs worker visited the foster home and observed that Lana Sue ”was dressed beautifully*

Her clothes seemed to have been both expensive

and selected in excellent taste.”

When, however, clothing

needs were discussed with the foster mother,

”it was dis­

covered that the child did not have a sufficient number of diapers•” In the early application period Miss Jones showed her particular emphasis on clothing for Johnny.

In a pre-

placement interview with Miss Jones the parent worker noted that Johnny was 11very immaculate and sweet in what seemed to be brand new clothing.”

This clothing was later described by

the childTs worker who noted that Johnny was ”dressed in his white satin suit, sweater, cap and booties.”

After receiving

the clothing inventory which the mother had completed of all the items for the child prior to placement, the childTs worker decided that she needed to bring some additional items from the agency such as, "diapers, socks, a sunsuit and under­ shirts. ”

57 Both Mrs* Magnin and Miss Jones reveal through their presentation to the agency of a well-dressed child their primary concern for outward appearances, as their expression of the esteem in which they hold the child and clothing as an indicator of the care which they have given the child.


each case, however, the parent!s pre-occupation at the time of placement has been with outer clothing only.

The practical

needs of the child, such as diapers and underclothing have been overlooked. Early in the placement period, the child*s worker learned from Mrs. Fisher, the foster mother, that lfMiss Jones likes the child to be dressed in a certain way when she comes to see him.11

This request continues as Miss Jones makes her

visits to the foster home.

According to Mrs. Fisher, ’’the

mother would like to have the child fully clothed.

. . . ”

Mrs. Fisher prefers that the child wear just a shirt and diaper.

In a subsequent visit to the foster home, the child*s

worker learned from Mrs. Fisher that 1!there is still some difficulty with the mother around clothing, since the mother would like Johnny dressed all the time." Mrs. Magnin, too, reveals her need to see her child dressed in a particular way at the time of visits to the foster home.

From the foster mother for Lana Sue the child*s

worker learned that "Mrs. Magnin had been quite pleased at the time of her last visit to the foster home, as Lana Sue

had been dressed in one of her prettiest dresses.” This emphasis on the “dressed-up” child clearly focuses the need as that of the mother, rather than any con­ sideration for the child1s needs.

As both Johnny and Lana

Sue are too young to appreciate the decorative values of. clothing, this request on the part of the parent indicates a need to evaluate the nature of the emotional relationship which exists between parent and child.

It leads to a

questioning of the basic affectional ties and the degree to which these parents can permit their children Individuality, comfort and freedom of activity. We see, very early in the placement period, some evidence of unrealistic attitudes on the part of parents with regard to clothing for their children.

To develop this point

more fully additional excerpts have been selected from other portions of the case records.

In discussing clothing needs

for Lana Sue, the caseworker pointed out to Mrs. Magnin that ”Lana Sue had more pretty dresses than she could probably use, but did not have some of the more practical things she needed.” When it was pointed out that the child should have some clothes for play, Mrs. Magnin spoke ”of velveteen coveralls.” After the caseworker told the mother that Lana Sue needed “something more serviceable to play in the sandbox and on the slide,” Mrs. Magnin explained that “she was still thinking in terms of a younger child playing In the house.”

59 Upon learning from the foster mother that the child needed shoes, Mrs. Magnin brought a pair to the agency which the child’s worker took to the foster home.

”As the shoes

were so large that Lana would not be able to wear them for some time, the child’s worker decided to return them to Mrs* Magnin.” During a subsequent visit to the foster home, the child’s worker noticed that Lana Sue was wearing a new dress ’’which a relative in New Guinea had made.”

The foster mother

remarked that ’’although it did not fit too well she dressed the child in it because she thought this would please the mother.” The activities of Miss Jones in relation to visiting in the foster home indicate her way of providing clothes for her child.

During one of her visits to the foster home, Miss

Jones brought a pair of shoes for Johnny. toe shoes.”

These were ’’soft

Since it was felt that Johnny would be needing

walking shoes within a short period of time, it was planned by the child’s worker and foster mother to purchase a pair of hard soled shoes to prepare him for walking.” In a later visit to the foster home Miss Jones told the foster mother that she planned to buy Johnny a coat. ’’talked about one she had seen for $>27.00.”


Subsequently she

told the parent worker ’’about her own wish to buy something very special for the baby, like a $>27.00 coat. • • .”

60 Another matter about which Miss Jones "complained11 was the fact that "Johnnyfs shoes were not clean*"

According to

the foster mother Johnny "has a habit of taking his shoes in his mouth*"

The foster mother did not feel that Johnny's

shoes should be polished "so that a child can lick off the shoe polish.” Miss Tager expresses her view of the child's clothing needs in another way.

She brought dresses for her child,

Ruth Ellen, which were "for the most part either second hand or re-made clothing. . . . " from some kind of sacks.”

These dresses "seemed to be made (There is a printed sacking

material from which dresses can be made.) Mrs. Norman had still another way of demonstrating her attitude toward the clothing needs of her daughter Nickie. Just prior to the re-application for placement, Mrs. Norman requested temporary aid from the Bureau of Public Assistance pending the receipt of her last salary check from the bank in which she had been employed. . . . she had purchased a pair of shoes for Nickie using part of the money she is expecting to receive from the bank next week. These were special orthopedic oxfords and cost something over $10.00. She made quite a point of the fact, that Nickie's new shoes are two sizes larger than the last pair purchased for her. . . . Mrs. Norman later learned that she had miscalculated the amount due her from her employment and had no money coming to her from this source.

She told the parent worker that

61 ffshe supposed she had been foolish to use the money for shoes, but defensively emphasized the difference in shoe size to prove the need.”

When it was discovered, as a result of

medical examination that Nickie was not in need of special orthopedic shoes, Mrs. Norman "questioned the usefulness of of the kind of shoes purchased. , • .” adding that Nickie*s feet are like hers and that "pumps had almost ruined her feet.” Each of these mothers demonstrates in some way her inability to relate to the child*s actual needs and expresses this through the medium of clothing.

Mrs. Magnin*s im­

practical giving reveals a tendency to preserve the child as a "plaything” rather than to show any regard for her as an individual with the right to play.

Miss Jones, also, exhibits

somewhat of the same attitude, but has the additional need to prove to the agency and to the foster mother that she does love her child by making known her plans to give extravagantly of material things.

Miss Tager expresses a need to give to

the child materially even though what she can supply is obviously inferior to the clothing the agency is able to obtain for Ruth Ellen.

Mrs. Norman shows the tendency to

identify her own needs as those of her child*s, without taking into consideration the reality situation.

Because she has

suffered by wearing ill-fitting shoes, she now insists that Nickie have corrective shoes, as though to undo what she had experienced.

62 Mrs. Norman, herself, gave a clue to the basis of giving to her child when she told the parent worker "of her family, particularly her father, who does not like his daughters; of the children having to wear cast-off clothing, of her own life in foster homes.11 Miss Jones, too, in the interview following her explanation to the parent worker about her desire to buy "something special for the baby" told about her life before coming to Los Angles. Her grandmother showed affection for her two grand­ daughters by buying them lots of things. She had the money to spend and would always brag, too,.to her friends about the things that she had bought for the children. She wanted Miss Jones, as well as her sister to always tell her how much they appreciated everything that she did for them. Her sister could do it, but Miss Jones couldn Tt . On the one hand Miss Jones is resentful of the treat­ ment which she received while she lived with her grandmother; on the other hand, she tends to respond in the same way to her own child, as this is the basic pattern of affection which she has known.

She wants to spend money on fine clothes

for her child and wants others to know about it just as her grandmo the r did. An examination of clothing as a ,means of learning about the emotional relationship between parent and child, in situations in which the parent experiences a great deal of difficulty in giving up this responsibility to the agency

63 indicates a strong need on the part of the parent for personal satisfaction through clothes as opposed to a reality consider­ ation of the child's individual needs* III.


PARENTS CONSIDER APPROPRIATE CLOTHING FOR CHILDREN That there will be variations in what natural parents and foster parents consider appropriate clothing seems to be an obvious fact.

Perhaps this variation presents no problem

to some parents whose children are in placement.

The material

studied reveals, however, that to other parents this variation has significance.

Excerpts have been selected for this

portion of the study which show what variation may exist and how this variation heightens the conflict of parent and foster parent in the placement situation. From the material previously presented we have seen that Mrs. Magnin selected clothing for her child with an emphasis on the decorative aspects.

Lana Sue had an abundance

of pretty and expensive dresses. In discussing the child's clothing inventory with the caseworker "Mrs. Leeper, the foster mother, tried to keep from commenting on anything that did not please her.”


they continued to talk about apparent needs she remarked that "Lana Sue doesn't have anything practical."

It was discovered

that the child had only one pair of white shoes and two thin

64 cotton play suits; all of her socks were too small. Prom what we know of Mrs. Magnin the practicality of clothing has not been a factor in its selection.


Leeper, on the other hand, though hesitant about being critical, finally voiced her own opinion.

What was needed,

she felt, were the practical items. In discussing with the parent worker clothing which had been purchased for Nickie, Mrs. Norman mentioned that the corduroy suit was quite attractive.

"The only criticism she

could make of that was that the sleeves were too long and had not been shortened."

In a later interview Mrs. Norman ex­

plained to the parent worker that she had taken some clothing to Nickie that had been given to her. She tried to remodel them but apparently this had not worked too well and they were still too large. She had felt Mrs. Ritmer, the foster mother, had been critical of this. 4. • • These excerpts from the record reveal Mrs. Norman’s disapproval of the way clothing selected by the foster mother is fitted to Nickie and that she came prepared to be critical of the clothing which someone else was buying for her child.

While she admits quite frankly that the clothing

she brought for Nickie was "too large," she is unable to face any criticism made by the foster mother of this apparent in­ appropriateness.

Mrs. Norman seems to be expressing more

than her disapproval of the clothing supplied through the

65 planning of foster parent and the child!s worker.

Her need

to be critical and to bring clothing to the child suggests some conflict over the sharing of her child with another mother person. Less than six weeks after Ruth Ellen was placed in the Lowell home, Miss Tager told the parent worker that the child "has so much clothing that she should not need anything while she is in the reception home.**

Within about one month after

this interview Mrs. Lowell discussed Ruth*s clothing needs with the child*s worker.

According to Mrs. Lowell, Ruth had

very little clothing and,only one good dress.

The foster

mother further pointed out that Miss Tager, on her last visit, had brought three dresses for the child, but that "these were not new and seemed to be made of some kind of sacks.”


Lowell considered these adequate to be worn around the house. Because Ruth was then the only child in the Lowell home and because Mrs. Lowell took her out a good deal she felt that she would like Ruth ”to have some better clothing.”

In plan­

ning the purchase the child*s worker explained that the dresses were not to exceed $2.50 each. After three months the foster mother again introduced the subject of clothing to the child*s worker.

She explained

that "although she has always said that Ruth had very little clothing, she has not requested too much.” Mrs. Lowell*s feeling for the mother.

Part of this is

She knows that the

66 mother does not have too much money and does not wish to "spend it foolishly,"

Soon after this discussion the childfs

worker learned from Mrs, Lowell that "Miss Tager, from time to time will bring Ruth clothing which ha3 been sent to her from her family,"

She went on to say that "for the most part

this is either second-hand or re-made clothing which is not exactly what Mrs, Lowell would buy for Ruth if she were doing the purchasing,"

After some additional clothing purchases

were made, Mrs, Lowell felt that "although Ruth did not have quite enough clothing that she would, at least, have some nice things to wear on the train.


(Miss Tager was planning

to remove the child from placement within a short period and to return to her family in the Mid-west.) On the date of Ruth's removal from placement the foster mother remarked that "she had dressed Ruth in play clothes because she was only going back to stay with her mother in her apartment for a few days before the trip." Although dressing the child in play clothes may indicate that the foster mother does not need to present a well dressed child to the parent as a concrete example of the care which was given Ruth Ellen, Mrs. Lowellfs use of the word "only" leads to some speculation of the foster mother's feeling for Miss Tager.

The use of play clothes may be the foster mother's

way of saying the mother has no appreciation for proper dress as she is satisfied to dress her child in second hand or


re-made clothing which is limited in use.

For this reason it

is not important to .take special care in the dress of the child, when she is returning to the mother. To Miss Tager it was important that Buth Ellen wear the clothes that she brought regardless of style, material, newness, or fit.

Although the foster mother felt some un­

easiness in requesting clothing after the mother had shared with her the financial difficulties with which she was faced, her own attitude toward the dress of a child living in her home predominated.

She made a clear differentiation between

everyday clothing and dress-up clothing.

The dresses which

Miss Tager brought she considered Tfall right to be worn around the house” but Buth had ’’only one good dress.”

Mrs. Lowell

needed more than one good dress for the child because she ’’took her out a good deal.”

To present this child to the

community, or to her friends, Mrs. Lowell must have a well dressed child.

This ’’good clothing” was so important that

rather than purchase two dresses at a maximum price of $>2.50 each she preferred to have one ’’for slightly more.”


addition, this foster mother has her own attitudes in relation to the appropriateness of clothing to the occasion. The most striking example of variations in what foster parent and natural parent consider appropriate clothing for children is seen in the contrasting attitudes of Mrs. Fisher and Miss Jones.

From the beginning interviews with Miss Jones,

she showed the need to dress her child ”in brand new clothing, in a ’’white satin suit,”

Mrs, Fisher, as observed by the

child’s worker, was very comfortable about using second-hand clothing for Johnny Jones.

In dressing the child for a trip

to the doctor, Mrs, Fisher covered his head with a hat which had belonged to another child and then ’’put him in a very pretty white and blue bunting which had also been the other child’s,”

Here we see complete difference; the mother empha­

sizes the ’’brand new” in clothing and the foster mother is quite casual about the use of ’’hand-me-downs,” Miss Jones was aware of the foster mother’s use of ’’hand-me-downs” and

complained to the parent

Johnny ’’didn’t have

clothes of his own,”



During the subsequent five months of Johnny’s placement information regarding differences between Miss Jones and Mrs. Fisher were presented to the child’s worker by the foster mother. In May, 1949, Mrs. Fisher said ’’the mother has been complaining a good bit about what Johnny has been wearing at the time of visits.”

She would like to have the child fully

clothed, whereas Mrs. Fisher prefers that the child wear just a shirt and diaper. She feels that Johnny perspires enough as it is and is quite apt to catch cold if his diaper has to be changed and all of his clothes have to be removed. • . . Miss Jones had taken Johnny’s shoes and had bought a pair of new shoes. Mrs. Fisher thought this was quite a


waste of money since they are soft-toe shoes and Johnny will he needing walking shoes within a short period of time. . . . his mother has been asking for him to have regular sleepers with feet which Mrs. Fisher feels are too warm for the present time. • • . In August, 1949, Mrs#. Fisher explained to the child's worker that there was still some difficulty with the mother around clothing, because Miss Jones would like to have Johnny dressed all the time. Mrs. Fisher pointed out that she changes Johnny three times a day since he has started to crawl because he now gets quite dirty. She insists that she will not put more clothing on a child than is necessary especially in some of this hot weather that we are having. In October, 1949, Mrs. Fisher told the child's worker that she and the mother had again discussed clothing. Miss Jones spoke with her about the possibility of buying Johnny a coat. • . . Mrs. Fisher thought that one was not necessary and perhaps a snowsuit would be more practical. . . . Miss Jones has also asked that Mrs. Fisher keep all of Johnny's clothing that he has outgrown. . . . She thinks this is rather foolish since other mothers who have had babies in her home have ieft the clothing behind and have offered it for the use of other children. Mrs. Fisher supposed that Miss Jones would be quite upset at knowing Johnny had worn a hat of a child who had been in placement before, when he had gone to the doctorfs office. Not only are there variations in the use of new and old clothing as seen by Miss Jones and Mrs. Fisher, but also there are differences in relation to weather conditions, appropriateness according to age as exemplified by the selec­ tion of shoes for Johnny, practicality as exemplified by choice of a coat for the child and in relation to the possession

70 of clothing which belongs to a particular child.

Miss Jones

insisted that her child be fully dressed at the time of visits; Mrs. Pisher was equally insistent that the weather was too warm for so much clothing* wear just a shirt and a diaper.

She preferred Johnny to

According to the foster

mother Miss Jones wants to "over-dress" her child, whereas Mrs. Pisher emphasizes comfort.

The motherfs bringing of

soft-toe shoes illustrates to Mrs. Pisher how impractical she is.

Johnny will soon be walking and these shoes will be in­

adequate within a short period of time.

The mother’s proposed

purchase of a coat represents to the foster parent a gross misuse of money.

To Miss Jones the possession of her childfs

clothing prior to his removal from placement meant having a part of him with her; to Mrs. Pisher available clothing was useful to any child who had a current need for it.

She had

no personal attachment to clothing as it related to a particu­ lar child. Even in this small group of cases, analysis shows variations exist which include differences in practical con­ siderations, social values, decorative values, and emotional values.

In three of the situations we see the mother’s basic

struggle in the ’’giving up” of her child.

Mrs. Norman

expresses this through her frank admission that she is being critical; Miss Tager tries to gain the foster motherfs sympathy by sharing with her the financial predicament she

71 faces and when this fails, continues to bring clothing which she alone must give to her child; Miss Jones focuses mainly on an open conflict with the foster mother. IV.


The discussion of variations in clothing needs as seen by natural parent and foster parent indicated a competitive element with regard to the way clothing is supplied.

In the

presentation of this factor it will be seen that expressions of competition are even more direct in the use of the agency’s clothing program. Almost four months after Lana Sue had been placed in the Leeper home, both Mr. and Mrs. Leeper arranged to discuss with the caseworker what they saw as their dissatisfactions with boarding for the agency.

They spoke of their inability

to see the purpose of frequent visits by the caseworker and the "interference” of the agency in relation to medical care and clothing plans.

Around the clothing discussions Mrs.

Leeper first said she ’’found it hard not to let Mrs. Magnin bring clothes for Lana. . . . "

Later in the interview she

said she could realize why it was better for her to buy L a n a ’s clothes than to have Mrs. Magnin bring them, but also remarked "that she would have liked to make mother-daughter dresses for herself and Lana.”

They continued to discuss more specific

72 aspects of placement and finally were able to express con­ cretely the reality problem which they were experiencing as boarding parents for Lana Sue. Both agreed that it certainly had been easy for them to grow very fond of her, but they have fheld b a c k 1 on their affection and are finding it difficult to continue in this way. Mrs. Leeper said she realized the caseworker had talked to her before placing Lana about how difficult parting later would be, but she thought she had not realized entirely how difficult, especially since, as the worker had said then, Lana was just the age little girl that she had been thinking of wanting to adopt. • • . Before one of the caseworker’s more recent visits she had even said to Mr. Leeper that it would be nice if they could adopt Lana and had wondered if they should talk it over with the caseworker. Then she ’had tried to hint* to the caseworker but when the caseworker actually asked her about it she could only give reasons why she did not think it would be a good plan. At one point Mrs. Leeper also turned to the caseworker and said, ’you were right, I guess we are still thinking of adopting another child.’ This interview illustrates that a first clue to compe­ tition for the child may be expressed through a simple clothing request.

Mrs. Leeper merely mentions her desire to

make mother-daughter dresses

for herself and

the child.

implications of this request

are seen in the

discussion which



Mrs. Leeper is able to speak more openly about her

desire to adopt Lana Sue and then to express quite directly that she and her husband ’’are still thinking of adopting another child.” Mrs. Lowell, the foster mother, gives some expression of competition for Ruth Ellen with the natural mother. sharing with the child’s worker her feelings about the


73 inadequacy of the clothing provided by the mother in the form of dresses ’’made from some kind of sacks” Mrs# Lowell requested some clothing items for Ruth Ellen#

One of the specific

reasons for this request was that Ruth Ellen ”is going to spend next Sunday with her mother.” because of the child’s birthday.)

(This visit was arranged

In a subsequent visit Mrs.

Lowell pointed out that ’’Ruth takes a good deal of pride in her appearance and looked like a little angel when she went out with her mother.”

In another interview she told the

child’s worker again about the clothing brought by the mother. ’’For the most part this is either second hand or re-made clothing which comes in handy, but which is not exactly what Mrs. Lowell would buy for Ruth if she were doing the purchas­ ing.”

Just prior to the removal of Ruth from placement,

because of the moth e r ’s plans to go with the child to relatives in the Midwest, Mrs. Lowell showed the child’s worker some of the clothing purchased recently for the child.

’’She felt

that although Ruth did not have quite enough clothing that she would at least have some nice things to wear on the train and her mother had also bought her a few small things to wear.” Although the mother’s motivation in bringing clothing to the child is admittedly complex, competition with the foster mother and agency suggests itself as one of the factors which should be given consideration.

As has already been

pointed out Miss Jones has the need to discuss with the foster

74 mother her plan to purchase a coat for her infant son,


coat must be expensive in price and must be purchased in a select shopping district.

Such a coat would serve as a

striking contrast to the ”hand-me-downs” which Mrs* Fisher has been using for Johnny.

Mrs. Norman tells the parent

worker quite directly that the corduroy suit purchased for Nickie does not fully meet the childfs needs as rfthe sleeves were too long and had not been shortened,” implying that she could observe this need for the child, whereas the foster mother had overlooked it.

She also uses a window shopping

trip to align the child with her in the choice of shoes for which purchase had been planned by the agency with the foster mother. During an interview with the childTs worker, Nickie commented that on the last visit with her mother they had done some window shopping. She told the worker that she and her mother had picked out some shoes downtown in Mansville. • . • She said she and her mother had not only picked them out in the window, but had gone in and tried them on and she was sure they were the shoes she wanted. Although the case material around the factor of compe­ tition as expressed through clothing is limited in volume, the information available points to this factor as a possible motivation on the part of both parent and foster parent.

CHAPTER IV CONCLUSIONS The purpose of this study was to find some casework aspects involved in the use of a clothing program in a child placement agency*

Because there are many unexplored areas in

this field, the study was limited to four specific factors which, it was believed, had significance in the casework situation* While there is an abundance of material in the related fields of Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology, and Education pertaining to various aspects of clothing, selective reading revealed that little attention has been given to clothing in the literature of social casework* The analysis of case material revealed that the clothing program focused, in part, for the parent the reality experi­ ence of separation from the child.

In the initial pre-placement

discussions of the clothing program the parents gained little more than an intellectual understanding of the meaning of separation*

At various times during the actual placement

period, however, interviews which centered around financial payment for the clothing item, proposed or completed purchases, and the need for a specific Item of apparel focused for the parents their emotional acceptance of the plan*

76 Inability on the part of parents to accept the clothing program was demonstrated by their need to bring clothing to the foster home without discussion of their plans with the caseworker.

Some of the parents excluded the agency by con­

ferring directly with the foster mother regarding the childfs clothing needs.

The foster mothers also had difficulty in

utilizing the agency!s clothing program. In some instances the foster mother, rather than the caseworker, was used by the parents to express their conflicts in accepting the clothing plan.

With some mothers this ex­

pression took the form of sharing with the foster parent problems of financial need, problems of deprivation resulting from the clothing policy, or direct complaints against the seeming rigidity of the agency.

One mother made little use

of the caseworker, but brought to the foster mother all of her \

negative feelings by being extremely critical of the selection of clothing made for her child. All of the parents revealed their inability to relate to the actual clothing needs of their children through selections of inappropriate, ill-fitting, or impractical items of apparel.

It was evident that these mothers were

acting out their own needs rather than giving consideration to the needs of their children.

Two of the mothers gave

clues to their basic motivations in the specific way of clothing their children by verbalizing their own childhood

77 deprivations in the area of clothing. Attitudes of rejection were suggested by two of the mothers who insisted upon seeing their children in their prettiest clothes at the time of visits to the fostor home* These mothers also

showed their pre-occupation with the

outward appearance

of the child at the time of placement to

the extent that the practical items such as diapers and other underclothing wereinsufficient foster home.

The lack of

for the childfs needs in the

clothing suitable for play was

significant in its absence. The child in foster care is caught between the parentfs and foster parent1s conflicting patterns of clothing.


is intensified for the ehild because of two mother persons responsible for his care*

Thus, the need for the agency to

be responsible for helping resolve this conflict is accentu­ ated.

All four parents and three of the foster parents ex­

pressed an exaggerated concern in the area of clothing selection.

There was evidence of some struggle in assuming

their respective roles as it related to the child placement situation.

The response of one parent suggested a conflict

over the sharing of the child with another mother person. - There were other problem areas for the foster parents. At some time during the placement period three of the foster parents sought the support of the child*s worker in order to sustain them in the continued assumption of responsibility

78 In planning and purchasing clothing.

This request for help

came only after the foster parent had an unsatisfactory experience in discussing clothing needs with the mother.


an interview with the caseworker the request to make motherdaughter dresses for herself and the child revealed that one of the foster parents wished to adopt the child in her care# The conclusions reached in this study suggest the need to evaluate the way in which the clothing program is presented in the pre-placement period from the standpoint of the parent *s reality experience in accepting this part of separation from the child#

The conscious use of the clothing inventory pre­

sented by the parent and the financial form may assist the mother in expressing emotional reactions to the plan in the early period of the placement process.

Since case material

gave evidence of inadequate and unsuitable clothing for the child, it seems

to suggest a need, at point of placement,


supplying extra clothing. If this were done it might, in effect, help accent the role of agency and foster parent in their responsibility for clothing.

Thus, for the parent some

emotional expression of this part of separation could be experienced.

Would this then enable the parent to move into

placement or come to terms with her inability to share her child?

Although emotional involvement is clearly shown as

the placement progresses, there is little recording of the help which is given the mother to gain an understanding of

79 her own needs to provide clothing for the child. This study was limited to a small segment of the casework implications in the use of a clothing program. Other subjects suggested for study might include:


Meaning of Clothing to Children in Placement, The Partici­ pation of the Child in the Planning of Clothing, The Significance of Clothing to the Adolescent, and The Casework Aspects of the Clothing Budget as They Relate to Parent, Poster Parent, and Child. The lack of research and other analytical study of clothing in relation to the casework situation is apparent. It is hoped that this area will become the focus of attention both in development of theory and practice.




Book, Dorothy, editor, Family Budget Counseling* Family Association of America, 1944. 88 pp.

New York:

Brandzel, Esther S., An Experimental Use of the Temporary Home. New York: Child Welfare League of America, 1947. 50 pp. Flugel, J. C., Psychology of Clothes♦ 1930. 238 pp.

Londons Hogarth Press,

Gorer, Geoffrey, The American People.New York: and Company, Inc., 1948. 246 pp.

W. W.


Hurlock, Elizabeth B., The Psychology of Dress. New York: The Ronald Press Company, 1929. 232 pp. Kasius, Cora, editor, Relief Practices in a. Family Agency. New York: Family Welfare Association of America, 1942. 121 pp. Mead, Margaret, And Keep Your Powder Dry. Morrow and Company, 1943. 274 pp.

New York: William

_______ , Male and Female♦ New York: William Morrow and Company, 1949. 477 pp. Smalley, Ruth, Beatrice Levey, and Beatrice H. Wajdyk, Meaning and Use of Relief. New York: Family Welfare Association of America, 1950. 50 pp. B.


Beans, Fred, "We Clothe Our Children with Confidence," The Welfare Reporter, 4:12-13, November, 1949. Elliott, Daniel R., "Financial Planning with Parents of Placed Children,” Child Welfare League of America Bulletin, 25:1-5, November, 1945. Farquhar, Jean, "Clothing Cost and Practice," Child Welfare League of America Bulletin, 25:10-12, December, 1947*

82 Hutchinson, Dorothy, ’’Casework Implications in the Use of Money in Child Placing,” Journal of Social Casework, 21:150-54, July, 1940. _______ , ’’The Parent-Child Relationship as a Factor in Child Placement,” Journal of Social Casework, 26:47-51, April, 1946. _______ , ’’The Request for Placement Has Meaning,” Journal of Social Casework, 25:128-32, June, 1944. Richman, L. H., ’’The Significance of Money in the Child Placing Agency’s Work with Children’s Own Parents and Foster Parents,” Social Service Review, 15:484-496, Summer, 1941. United States Department of Commerce, Office of Business Economics, Survey of Current Business, Supplement 8, January, 1945. Woman's Home Companion, 77:1-160, February, 1950. McCall ’s , 77:1-150, February, 1950. Ladies ’ Home Journal, 67:1-190, February, 1950. The Saturday Evening Post, 222:1-100, February 4, 1950. C.


Barr, Estelle De Young, ”A Psychological Analysis of Fashion Motivation,” Archives of Psychology, 17:5-100. New York: Columbia University Press, 1917-1934. Dearborn, George Van Ness, ’’The Psychology of Clothing,” The Psychological Monographs, 27:1-72. Princeton: Psycho­ logical Review Company, 1918. Hurlock, Elizabeth B., ’’Motivations in Fashion,” Archives of Psychology, 15:1-71. New York: Columbia University Press, 1917-1934. Report of the Security Work and Relief Policies to the National Planning Board. Washington, D.C. : United States Government Printing Office, 1942. P. 584. Benedict, Ruth, ’’Dress,” Encyclopedia of Social Sciences, 5:235-238. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1931.



Name of Parent:

Case No/


Address of Parent: _________________________ I agree to pay to Children!s Bureau of Los Angeles on (Give specific date or day of week) and each

____________________ thereafter, the sum of (Date or day of wkV)


dollars ($)______

The payment or payments will include on a monthly basis: Names of Children__________________ Total

I will assume

Agency will assume

Board___________________________________________________________ Medical_________________________________________________________ Clothing_______________________________________________________ Allowance______________________________________________________ Other

Total___________________________________________________________ I understand that for the items of Medical, Clothing, Other (Cross out items not applicable) (specify) ___________, am paying Into a special account against which Agency will charge expenditures*

If, when my child

85 FINANCIAL AGREEMENT WITH PARENT (continued) leaves placement, there is money unused in this account, it will be reimbursed to me* All other charges not included in the above will be billed to me after the case worker has discussed them with me. 1 also understand that this financial arrangement should be discussed with my case worker if my financial situation changes, and that this arrangement will stand until another agreement is worked out with my case worker. Signed: _______________ ________ (parent) Date: ____________________ (Case Worker) 3-2-49 100C (Temp.)


$ 8.83

Girl - 18 thru 20


Boy - 16 thru 17


Girl - 16 thru 17


Boy - 13 thru 15


Girl - 13 thru 15


Boy - 10 thru 12


Girl - 10 thru 12


Boy - 7 thru 9


Girl - 7 thru 9


Boy - 4 thru 6


Girl - 4 thru 6


Child - 1 thru 3


Infant -


* This covers cost of bedding as well as clothing*

This budget was taken from the clothing items in the ’’Standard Budget for Families" as published January, 1949, by the Research Department of the Welfare Council of Metro­ politan Los Angeles. For Agency use 20$ was added.


INFANT ( 6 - 1 4 Months)

1 1 2 2 4 3 1 3 3 2 4 3 2 2

2 1 2 2 2 3 3 4 3 1 6 1 4 1 1 3

bonnet bunting cardigan sweaters rompers undershirts soakers rubber pants dozen diapers socks booties gowns wrappers bibs receiving blankets

BOY (15 Months to 3 Years) 1 1 2 2 4 2 3 3 3 1 4 6 6 2 1 1 4 1 1 1 4\

cap warm coat or snowsuit cardigan sweaters slip-on sweaters t-shirts knit jersey suits wash suits overalls (corduroy or wool) play suits bathing suit undershirts underpants socks hard-soled shoes slipper rubbers sleepers robe pair suspenders pair mittens

bonnets snowsuit cardigan sweaters slip-on sweaters t-shirts rompers overall (creepers) undershirts dozen diapers rubber pants socks soft-sole shoe sleepers robe pair mittens bibs

GIRL (15 Months to 3 Ye 1 1 2 2 2 2 5 1 3 1 4 6 2 6 1 1 2 4 1 1 1 1 *

hat warm coat or snowsuit cardigan sweaters slip-on sweaters blouses overalls wash dresses wool skirt sunsuits bathing suit undershirts underpants slips socks slipper rubbers hard-soled shoes sleepers robe scarf pair suspenders pair mittens

Also personal toilet articles--brush, comb, toothbrush



GIBL ( 3 - 5 Years)

1 1 2 2 2 4 2 3 2 3

1 1 2 2 2 2 2 5 1 3 1 4 4 2 2 6 1 1 1 3 1 1 1 1 1

2 4 6 2 1 1 1 3 1 4 1 1 2 1

cap warm coat cardigan sweaters slip-on sweaters sport shirts t-shirts knit jersey suits wash suits jeans slacks or overalls (corduroy or wool) boxer shorts (play) undershirts socks shoes play shoe pair rubbers pair slippers sleepers robe undershorts pair suspenders belt ties pair mittens

hat warm coat cardigan sweaters slip-on sweaters blouses overalls Sunday dresses wash dresses wool skirt sunsuits bathing suit undershirts panties slips shoes socks play shoe pair rubbers pair slippers sleepers robe pair suspenders scarf pair gloves purse

BOY ( 6 - 1 1 Years)

GIBL ( 6 - 1 1 Years)

1 1 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 2 2 3 4

1 1 1 2 2 2 1 2 5 1 2 1 4

cap half coat or mackinaw raincoat slip-on sweaters sport shirts t-shirts suit corduroy slacks jeans swim shorts play shorts undershirts undershorts

* Also personal toilet


hat wool coat raincoat cardigan sweaters slip-on sweaters blouses pair.slacks good dresses cotton dresses skirt sunsuits bathing suit vests

es— brush, comb, toothbrush

89 SUGGESTED WARDROBES & BASIC CLOTHING NEEDS (continued) 8 2 1 1 1 2 2 1 4 1 10 1 1 1 *

socks shoes play shoe pair rubbers pair slippers cotton pajamas flannel pajamas bathrobe ties belt handkerchiefs wallet pair mittens pair suspenders

BOYS ( 1 2 - 1 7 Years) 1 1 1 2 5 4 1 1 2 3 1 1 1 2 4 1 1 2 1 6 2 10 1 1

cap half coat or mackinaw trenchcoat slip-on sweaters sport shirts t-shirts suit wool slacks corduroy slacks jeans bathing suit play shorts gym clothes undershirts undershorts rubber soled shoe pair slippers cotton pajamas (flannel optional}' bathrobe ties belts handke rchiefs wallet pair gloves

4 3 8 2 1 1 2 2 1 1 10 1 1 1 1 *

panties slips socks shoes pair galoshes pair slippers flannel pajamas cottom pajamas robe belt handkerchiefs purse pair gloves scarf play shoe

GIRLS ( 1 2 - 1 7 Years) 1 hat 1 coat (wool) 1 raincoat 2 cardigan sweaters 2 slip-on sweaters 3 blouses (1 suit) 1 pair slacks 2 Sunday dresses 3 school dresses 2 skirts 2 sunsuits (shorts & bra) 1 bathing suit 1 gym outfit 4 panties 3 slips 1 girdle or.garter belt 3 brassieres 2 stockings 5 socks 2 shoes 1 pair play shoes 1 pair galoshes 1 pair gym shoes 2 pajamas or gowns (flannel optional)

** Also personal toilet articles— brush, comb, toothbrush


2 scarves 10 handkieo 1 purse 1 pair gloves ■Sfr

Also personal toilet articles--brush., comb, toothbrush