REPORT OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE ASSISTANT
ISSUING OF EMPLOYMENT CERTIFICATES.
During the year 1916, 2935 certificates were issued. Of this number, 279 were duplicates, and 5 had to be cancelled, having been obtained by the use of false birth records.
The total number issued shows an increase of 594 over the number issued in 1915, and may be accounted for in part by an increased population, but is more probably due to the fact that the amendment to the law, passed in 1914, which repealed that clause making the law applicable only to places "where more than five persons are employed," has become more generally known. Heretofore, during summer vacations, many school children have found employment in drug stores, -groceries, offices, etc., without certificates and regardless of age. This can no longer be done without violating the law, and causes an endless procession of irate parents during the summer months, venting their wrath on this office, because they cannot keep their children "out of the river," "off the streets" and "away from other bad children." A sufficient number of vacation schools, properly equipped playgrounds and gymnasiums would solve this problem to the very great advantage of the children and the community.
The relation of the schools to this department is shown in the largely increased number of certificates issued during the summer months:
January, 194; February, 177; March, 182; April, 149; May, 168; June, 443; July, 320; August, 245; September, 333; October, 300; November, 215; December, 209.
The opening of the schools in September and October brings a fresh increase, accounted for this year, according to the parents, by a change in text books, which entailed an extra expense they were unable to meet.
The fact that no exception is ever made to our fourteen year age limit is the very strongest point in our law, and the hardest to have comprehended, not only by the parents, but by many people interested in the welfare of children. During the past year, 220 applications were made to this office for special permits for children under the legal age to go to work, and to each of these, his or her case seemed especially worthy of being made the exception. If the rule had ever once been broken, this number would undoubtedly increase until our law would become entirely non-effective. This has been the experience of every state which included a "poverty exemption" clause in its child labor law, and makes plain the necessity of providing in a legitimate way, for the "widowed mother" and preventing the over large family,--the two usual excuses for child labor.
At present the Louisiana Child Labor Committee, through its Scholarship Fund, is taking care of 7 of these children, paying them a weekly sum equivalent to the wages they would be earning, on condition that they remain in school, until they are fourteen.