Remembering Maurice O. Hunt

Jan 19, 2011

Maurice O. Hunt

Maurice O. Hunt was involved in social activism throughout his professional social work career. He obtained his MA in 1938 from the Indiana Training School for Social Work, which became the Indiana University School of Social Work.  His involvement in the profession spans fifty years and included a stint in Greece during World War II with the United States Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. He has been a member of NASW since 1969 and is a former member of the NASW Board.

Maurice was born in Kirklin, Indiana, and spent his early years working in social work positions in the state as a case worker responsible for the placement of boys in their homes and in foster homes. He then became director of social services at the Boy’s School and worked to change the institution from a military-style operation to a treatment program. He later became a child welfare consultant for the Indiana Department of Public Welfare. When WW II began, he applied for a position with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration and was dispatched to Greece. In 1946 he returned to Indiana and became Director of the Department of Public Assistance in the Department of Public Welfare. He became the Administrator of the Department of Public Welfare at the age of 37. His years there were overshadowed by the McCarthy period during which he was beset by accusations that the department was a hot bed of communists and both the local paper and a conservative legislature created many challenging administrative problems.

After two years, he left Indiana and became the assistant director of the American Public Welfare Association and later chief of the Bureau of Child Welfare of the Maryland State Department of Public Welfare.  Later responsibilities included serving as director of the National Study Service and the First Deputy Director of the New York City Department of Social Services. The two years in that position were turbulent ones, with officials walking the streets of Harlem trying to restrain angry citizens. His last social work position was as administrative vice-president of the Federation of Protestant Agencies in New York City. He was in this position from 1969 until his retirement in 1982.  Throughout his career as a caseworker, administrator and consultant, Maurice Hunt was a leader in the development and practice of progressive child welfare services.