DECEMBER 27, 1940
WASHINGTON, Thursday—Today the Parent's Institute released an annual report on the nation's children. This report is made by Miss Katharine F. Lenroot, Chief of the United States Children's Bureau, Surgeon-General Thomas F. Parran of the United States Public Health Service, and the United States Commissioner of Education, Dr. John Studebaker.
It is important to the people of the whole nation to keep in touch with what the country is doing for its children. The Children's Bureau reports on the care of mothers and babies. The homes of the nation and the children in them are our first line of defense. In all our preparations we must not forget this important fact.
Each year about two million babies are born in the United States. One fact in the report about them, which will please you, I know is that during the five years from 1934 to 1939, our baby death rate dropped twenty percent. Even at that, some fifty thousand babies died between the second and twelfth month of their lives and, sad to say, many of them could have been saved. There has been little or no decline in the death rate of babies from one day to one month old, and there are still 75,000 still births every year.
Under the Social Security Act, 800,000 children approximately, benefit from the program giving aid to dependent children. Because of the acceptance of responsibility for our children by the Government agencies during the depression, some eight million children are at the present time receiving economic aid in their homes.
The Surgeon-General, in his report, states: "New horizons are ahead of us in the attainment of national health. New knowledge and surer weapons offer us, as parents, real hope for better health of our children and, as citizens, hope for a strong, vigorous America, eternally ready for tomorrow."
Naturally, Dr. John Studebaker is primarily concerned with education. His chief interest in the past year, because of national defense, has been with our vast investment in vocational schools and equipment.
None of these people feel that we have attained the full measure of our desires in the opportunities we offer our children, but all of them feel that we have improved, and for this we may be grateful.
We all enjoyed the Christmas Interdenominational Service yesterday morning. We were happy later to greet the United Norwegian Royal Families with their children.
I want to thank again, in this column, the innumerable people who have sent us so many Christmas cards and telegrams. It is impossible to acknowledge them personally, but they may be sure that they warmed our hearts and that we are deeply grateful.
I think last night was the pleasantest Christmas dinner and party which we have had in a long time, though we missed not having all our own children present. We had a great many old friends and it was a happy close to a happy day.