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Story Progress for Children 2-1

Introduction   Progress for Children

Before the Children’s Bureau Today
The infant mortality problem was recognized but not well understood. No accurate national statistics were available, though it was estimated that 300,000 babies died each year, or close to 1 in 10.
Nurses weighing a baby at the Cincinnati, OH, pure milk station, circa 1908.
Nurses weighing a baby at the Cincinnati, OH, pure milk station, circa 1908.
Photo Credit: Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-43678
The U.S. infant mortality rate is less than 7 per 1,000 live births. Resources committed to reducing infant mortality and ensuring access to prenatal and postnatal care have grown exponentially during the past century. The Maternal and Child Health Bureau, within the Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, now administers these programs.
Child labor was common, particularly among rural and immigrant families. No Federal child labor law existed.
Children picking cotton, circa 1912.
Children picking cotton, circa 1912.
Photo Credit: Library of Congress, LC-DIG-npcc-19467
The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 restricted employment and abuse of child workers, representing a major victory for the Children’s Bureau and its supporters. Its provisions (and others monitoring child labor) are now enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.
An 8-year-old boy in juvenile court charged with stealing a bicycle, St. Louis, MO, circa 1910.
An 8-year-old boy in juvenile court charged with stealing a bicycle, St. Louis, MO, circa 1910.
Photo Credit: Library of Congress, LC-DIG-nclc-04645
Juvenile courts were still in their infancy. In 1899, Illinois became the first State to establish separate courts for all cases involving children under the age of 16.
Juvenile courts exist in every State, processing nearly 1 million cases each year. Building on the Children’s Bureau’s pioneering work in this area, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, within the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, is now dedicated to supporting States, local communities, and Tribal jurisdictions in their efforts to develop and implement effective programs for juveniles.
Boys riding on what is thought to be an orphan train destined for Texas, circa 1904.
Boys riding on what is thought to be an orphan train destined for Texas, circa 1904.
Photo Credit: Negative #82697d
Collection of The New-York Historical Society
“Orphan Trains” transported abandoned or homeless children from crowded coastal cities to the Midwest, where they were taken in by pioneer families for work or adoption.
Modern child welfare agencies focus on finding a permanent family for every child, preferably within the child’s family or kin. Approximately three-fourths of the more than 400,000 children in foster care today live in foster homes or with relatives. More than half of children exiting foster care are reunited with their families of origin, while one-fifth are adopted by unrelated families that have been carefully screened and prepared for the adoption. Outcomes for children entering State foster care systems are carefully tracked by the Children’s Bureau.
A friendly visitor from the Henry Street Visiting Nurse Service, circa 1940.
A friendly visitor from the Henry Street Visiting Nurse Service, circa 1940.
Photo Credit: Museum of the City of New York
Child welfare work was still primarily conducted by volunteers lacking formal training in social work.
The Children’s Bureau supports State, Tribal, and local child welfare agency efforts to recruit and retain a qualified workforce through initiatives such as its National Child Welfare Workforce Institute .

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