Elizabeth Robinson

1911 – 1981

Pioneer human services worker and trailblazer

Elizabeth Robinson was affectionately known as “Kewpie” by her friends and family. A pioneer African American social worker, her career spanned 35 years, and who in the context of her times was the first of her race in many of her social work positions.

Beginning her career during the Great Depression in 1934, Robinson worked with Los Angeles County as a social worker with the Bureau of Indigent Welfare, the predecessor of the Bureau of Public Assistance (BPA) and the Department of Social Services (DPSS). Following several years as a front line social worker visiting families, she became supervisor of a combined unit of Old Age Security, Aid to Dependent Children and General Relief.

Military service beckoned Robinson and in 1942 she took a leave from county employment to serve in the Women�s Army Corps. She became part of one of the first Officers� Training Classes and attained the rank of Captain at the time of her honorable discharge in 1945 after serving for 3 years and 7 months.

Robinson resumed her social work career with the Los Angeles County DPSS, then known as BPA, after her military service. In 1950 she became a supervisor in Child Welfare Services, which had been a part of district officers since the middle 40’s. When the new Child Welfare Division was created, she was among the first 10 supervising child welfare workers selected.

As her career proceeded, she became a head Child Welfare Worker, participating in the administration and policy making decisions of the new child Welfare Services Division, which received provisional accreditation from the child Welfare league of America in 1957 and full accreditation in 1961.

Robinson’s next accomplished position was her promotion to Director of Day Care, Licensing and State Pre-School. She was actively involved in outreach to minority communities and expanded the agency role beyond the regulatory and monitoring. She and her staff provided a number of long established and much needed community day care facilities and church run pre-school facilities with the information and support needed to become fully licensed.

Elizabeth Robinson was a pioneer professional social worker. She was always among the first to be appointed in her employment positions with the County of Los Angles. And, she was a role model and a mentor for many social workers and supervisors in numerous areas.

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