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Statement by the President Upon Approving the Public Welfare Amendments Bill.

July 26, 1962

I HAVE approved a bill which makes possible the most far-reaching revision of our Public Welfare program since it was enacted in 1935.

This measure embodies a new approach-stressing services in addition to support, rehabilitation instead of relief, and training for useful work instead of prolonged dependency. This important legislation will assist our states and local public welfare agencies to redirect the incentives and services they offer to needy families and children and to aged and disabled people. Our objective is to prevent or reduce dependency and to encourage self-care and self-support-to maintain family life where it is adequate and to restore it where it is deficient.

This measure encourages the states to expand their rehabilitation of the needy, increase their services to children and extend day-care services to the children of working mothers, establish useful community work and training projects, guard against misuse of welfare funds paid for the benefit of dependent children, and strengthen and improve welfare administration.

This bill also contains incentives for the training of additional skilled welfare workers; and I am hopeful that these incentives, along with the new constructive approach taken by this bill, will help to direct many more able men and women to the service of our severely handicapped welfare agencies.

The new law makes available additional federal funds to the States for assistance to needy aged, blind, and disabled persons which amount to about $4 per recipient per month. The reports of both the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives and of the Committee on finance of the Senate make it clear that the States are expected to pass on these additional funds to the recipients under these programs. It would truly be a miscarriage of justice and a frustration of the legislative intent if these new federal funds merely replaced existing state funds, and those for whom the increase was intended were denied the full benefit.

The problems which gave rise to this bill affect every community in the country--and this measure, I believe, marks a real turning point in this nation's efforts to cope realistically and helpfully with these pressing problems.

Note: The Public Welfare Amendments Act of 1962, approved July 25, 1962, is Public Law 87-543 (76 Stat. 172).

John F. Kennedy, Statement by the President Upon Approving the Public Welfare Amendments Bill. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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