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Story Maternity and Infancy Act (1922–1929) 5-2

Chapter 2   Assistance to States & Tribes

Photo of orphaned baby from a Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information document emphasizing the importance of aid to dependent children, circa 1940s.
Photo of orphaned baby from a Farm Security Administration/Office of War information document emphasizing the importance of aid to dependent children, circa 1940s.
Photo Credit: Library of Congress, LC-DIG-fsa-8e09020
Maternity and Infancy Act (1922–1929) – The 1921 Maternity and Infancy Act was the first Federal law providing grants to States to fund human services.

A plan very similar to the act was originally proposed by Children’s Bureau Chief Julia Lathrop in her 1917 annual report. Her vision was for a program that provided funds for:

  • Instruction in maternity and infant care through public health nurses and “consultation centers”
  • Provision of medical and nursing care for mothers and infants, at home or in hospitals

As passed, the Act required States to submit expenditure plans that were approved by a Federal board chaired by the Children’s Bureau Chief.

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