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Created in 1931,1 this agency evolved out of public sentiment that the elderly poor are entitled to the essentials of life and that government should provide them. Four members, one from each county and the City of Wilmington, were gubernatorially appointed to the Commission and charged with granting assistance to elderly persons (over the age of 65) who had no children or other persons capable of providing support without undue hardship.

Initially, the person requesting assistance would apply to the Commission. An investigation would be undertaken to determine actual need and the circumstances surrounding the request. Upon successful completion, the Commission would issue a certificate granting the assistance in the form of a pension. In cases of suspected incompetence of the petitioner, testimonies of three non-familial witnesses could negate the Commission’s ruling, but, generally, the assistance could be paid to a third party, to be used for the petitioner’s benefit. If at any time the pensioner entered any charitable or benevolent institution his/her pension would stop. The Commission could also provide a $100 burial benefit if circumstances dictated.

Concurrent legislation in 19312 provided for the Commission to buy land and erect a “State Welfare Home.” Persons of need were to be admitted and provided for. If space was not available in the home of necessary assistance was to be provided outside the facilities and charged against the home’s appropriated funds. This same law abolished all almshouses and provided for the transfer of any almshouse inmates to the new facility.

In 1951, the Old Age Welfare Commission was abolished and the responsibility for the State Welfare Home was transferred to the Department of Welfare (see RG 1505).3

See also RG 1510, Board of Trustees for the Delaware Home and Hospital for the Chronically Ill.

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1 37 DL, ch. 85.

2 37 DL, ch. 189.

3 48 DL, ch. 133.

jrf/March 11, 1988; March 14, 1988; June 13, 1988