About Corinne Wolfe

(Article courtesy of National Association of Social Workers Foundation. Photograph courtesy of Santa Fe Living Treasures.)

Corinne Wolfe

During her lifetime, Corinne H. Wolfe made significant contributions to the field of social work in several important areas: (1) administrative simplification of policy for more effective performance at the local level; (2) national policy for in-service training programs, which began with training the trainer who, in turn, was responsible for teaching the caseworker; (3) policy for promoting opportunities in professional education; (4) establishment of standards for undergraduate social work; and (5) a role model for social work retirees in influencing state and local social legislation.

Corinne received her master of social work degree in 1944 from Tulane University. During World War II, before completing her professional training, she was already working in public welfare in staff development and the administration of special programs. In 1945, she joined the Federal Security Agency (which later became the Department of Health, Education and Welfare) Regional Office staff in San Francisco as public assistance analyst. She assessed policy effectiveness and how well it was being carried out at the state and local levels. With this background, she was moved to the Washington Central Office into the Division of Program Operation. She and a colleague with a similar background reviewed various programs and set policy to facilitate communication between the central office, the regional office, and the state, which would include providing feedback from all levels.

In 1950, she became chief of the Training Division, Bureau of Family Services (FSA). She was responsible for the policy and in-service training of public assistance workers throughout the United States and its territories. During this period, which extended into the late 1960s, a grant from private funds helped set up a unique and successful training program for staff at the state level who were designated to be trainers of caseworkers. This program for public welfare agencies was the first to provide federal funds for training purposes. She is credited with using federal funds to establish more schools of social work than anyone else.

In 1972 Corinne left the federal government and returned to New Mexico, her home state. This was the beginning of her contributions to social work in New Mexico and to social program development. She joined the faculty at Highlands University schhol of social work and began an unprecedented career of advocacy. She initiated as co-chair what became the Human Needs Coordinating Council, now the largest advocacy group in the state. She supported a program of social work licensing with provisions that made New Mexico one of only three states in which social workers in state government had to be licensed. She helped develop Child Abuse and Neglect Citizens' Review Boards, which monitor how children in the custody of the state and their families are receiving services. She developed the Children’s Trust Fund, created to fund innovative children’s services and programs. She monitored what is now the public welfare TANF fund and the state Medicaid program.

Corinne died in 1997. She was so trusted by legislators for her honesty and integrity that the only place in the state Capitol that is dedicated to an individual is the Corinne Wolfe Lobby. She remained active in numerous professional organizations and, after her death, family members found boxes and boxes of awards and honors.