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Children's Bureau Timeline

Use this interactive timeline to explore the Children’s Bureau’s rich history, decade by decade. Learn about the key political and social events that influenced the development of today’s Children’s Bureau and shaped the evolution of child welfare in America.

First “orphan train” heads West.

Orphaned or abandoned children in search of new families traveled west on trains like this one to Kansas, c. 1900. (Kansas State Historical Society)

Orphaned or abandoned children in search of new families traveled west on trains like this one to Kansas, c. 1900. (Kansas State Historical Society)

National & World Events

First “orphan train” heads West.

1854–1929

From 1854 through the early 1930s, approximately 200,000 orphaned or abandoned children from Eastern cities were transported by train to new families in other parts of the country. Organizations such as Charles Loring Brace’s Children’s Aid Society in New York hoped that these children would benefit from living in family homes, where they could receive a good education and training in wholesome work. With the help of the Children’s Bureau, the trains eventually were replaced by foster care and adoption practices that promised greater safety and permanency for children.

 

Jane Addams founds Hull House on Chicago’s Near West Side.

Settlement workers gathered on the Hull House porch and courtyard for a conference, c. 1920.  (Jane Addams Hull-House Photographic Collection, University of Illinois at Chicago Library, Special Collections)

Settlement workers gathered on the Hull House porch and courtyard for a conference, c. 1920. (Jane Addams Hull-House Photographic Collection, University of Illinois at Chicago Library, Special Collections)

National & World Events

Jane Addams founds Hull House on Chicago’s Near West Side.

1889

Hull House is the most famous of more than 400 U.S. settlement houses established in poor urban areas during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Settlement houses provided neighborhood residents with critical social services that governments did not offer at the time, including health care, education, and temporary foster care. Many of the women volunteers, including Hull House founder Jane Addams, became influential advocates for social reforms such as child labor laws and protections for abused and neglected children. The Children’s Bureau’s first two Chiefs, Julia Lathrop and Grace Abbott, both were Hull House alumnae.

 

The first juvenile court is established.

A juvenile court in St. Louis, MO, hears the case of an 8-year-old boy charged with stealing a bicycle (1910). (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-nclc-04645)

A juvenile court in St. Louis, MO, hears the case of an 8-year-old boy charged with stealing a bicycle (1910). (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-nclc-04645)

National & World Events

The first juvenile court is established.

1899

The first juvenile court system in the world was established in Cook County, IL, by the Illinois General Assembly. Jane Addams and Julia Lathrop, among other prominent Illinois women, were involved in lobbying for the new court system. Other States soon followed, setting up similar courts.

 

The idea for a Federal Children’s Bureau is conceived.

"If the Government can have a department to look out after the nation's farm crops, why can't it have a bureau to look after the nation's child crop?" – Lillian Wald, pictured c. 1910 (National Library of Medicine)

"If the Government can have a department to look out after the nation's farm crops, why can't it have a bureau to look after the nation's child crop?" – Lillian Wald, pictured c. 1910 (National Library of Medicine)

Organization

The idea for a Federal Children’s Bureau is conceived.

1903

Over morning coffee, Lillian Wald and Florence Kelley discussed the need for a Federal bureau to collect and disseminate information on children. When an associate of Kelley’s, Dr. Edward T. Devine, wired the idea to President Theodore Roosevelt, the President replied, “Bully, come down and tell me about it.”

 

Social reformers organize the National Child Labor Committee.

Lewis Hine's photographs, like this one depicting a 5-year-old "shrimp-picker" in Biloxi, MS, in 1911, raised the nation's awareness of and generated sympathy for the plight of child laborers.  (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-nclc-00828)

Lewis Hine's photographs, like this one depicting a 5-year-old "shrimp-picker" in Biloxi, MS, in 1911, raised the nation's awareness of and generated sympathy for the plight of child laborers. (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-nclc-00828)

National & World Events

Social reformers organize the National Child Labor Committee.

1904

The National Child Labor Committee was organized during an April 25, 1904, meeting at Carnegie Hall in New York City. The meeting was attended by men and women concerned with the plight of working children, including Lillian Wald and Florence Kelley, who are credited with conceiving the idea for the Children’s Bureau. The group moved quickly to gain the support of prominent Americans and to identify the extent and scope of the problem. In 1908, the NCLC hired a photographer, Lewis Wickes Hine, to document child labor in pictures. Hine’s photographs of working children would help stimulate the nation’s conscience and garner support for the NCLC’s cause. The NCLC also was instrumental in lobbying for the formation of the Children’s Bureau in 1912.

 

White House Conference on the Care of Dependent Children

The final session and banquet of the White House Conference on the Care of Dependent Children was held in the Grand Banquet Hall of the Washington, DC, Willard Hotel, January 26, 1909. (Dwight D. Eisenhower Library)

The final session and banquet of the White House Conference on the Care of Dependent Children was held in the Grand Banquet Hall of the Washington, DC, Willard Hotel, January 26, 1909. (Dwight D. Eisenhower Library)

Conferences

White House Conference on the Care of Dependent Children

1909

The first in a series of White House Conferences on Children and Youth, this gathering brought together 200 leaders in children’s issues to discuss the negative effects of institutional care for dependent and neglected children. The Conference concluded with a list of proposals that acknowledged the importance of keeping children in their own homes; called for foster family care; and advocated for State oversight of foster homes, adoption agencies, and medical care for foster children. The conferees also endorsed the creation of a Federal children’s bureau, a sentiment that President Roosevelt echoed in a letter to Congress shortly after the conference ended.

 

Population Milestone

A group of berry pickers (as young as 7 years old) at Newton's Farm in Bridgeville, Del., 1910. (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-nclc-00105)

A group of berry pickers (as young as 7 years old) at Newton's Farm in Bridgeville, Del., 1910. (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-nclc-00105)

Statistics & Milestones

Population Milestone

1910

The 1910 census reported that children ages 14 and under numbered approximately 29 million, representing 32 percent of the total U.S. population.

 

The Children’s Bureau is founded.

President Taft signing the bill establishing the Children's Bureau, 1912. (Maternal and Child Health Library)

President Taft signing the bill establishing the Children's Bureau, 1912. (Maternal and Child Health Library)

Key Legislation

The Children’s Bureau is founded.

1912

On April 9, 1912, President William Howard Taft signed the law establishing the Children’s Bureau. It took a strong grassroots effort, 11 bills (8 in the House and 3 in the Senate), and 6 years for Congress to pass the Children’s Bureau bill. The final law called on the new agency to “investigate and report… upon all matters pertaining to the welfare of children and child life among all classes of our people.” In particular, the Bureau was charged with looking at infant mortality, the birth rate, orphanages, juvenile courts, dangerous occupations, accidents and diseases of children, and employment.

 

Julia Lathrop named first Chief of the Children’s Bureau.

The Children's Bureau's first Chief, Julia Lathrop, ushered in research-based investigations to evaluate infant and maternal mortality, child labor, and other social ills. (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ggbain-14253)

The Children's Bureau's first Chief, Julia Lathrop, ushered in research-based investigations to evaluate infant and maternal mortality, child labor, and other social ills. (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ggbain-14253)

Organization

Julia Lathrop named first Chief of the Children’s Bureau.

1912

 

The Children’s Bureau begins its first research program: addressing infant mortality.

The Bureau's first infant mortality study revealed a vast discrepancy in mortality rates based on socioeconomic factors. (Maternal and Child Health Library)

The Bureau's first infant mortality study revealed a vast discrepancy in mortality rates based on socioeconomic factors. (Maternal and Child Health Library)

Projects & Events

The Children’s Bureau begins its first research program: addressing infant mortality.

1913

Chief Lathrop cited a number of reasons for selecting infant mortality as the Bureau’s first research topic. The subject had popular appeal, its findings could easily be communicated to the public, and it provided a basis for concrete action on behalf of children. The city of Johnstown, PA, was selected for the Bureau’s first study, which was conducted in 1913 with a staff of four, a $2,500 budget, and a cadre of women’s club volunteers. Studies like this one, along with birth registration campaigns and other efforts by the Bureau and other groups, contributed to a decline in the national infant mortality rate by 24 percent between 1915 and 1921.

 

Prenatal Care first published.

Although its look and advice changed over the years, Prenatal Care was one of the Children's Bureau's most popular publications for decades. (Maternal and Child Health Library)

Although its look and advice changed over the years, Prenatal Care was one of the Children's Bureau's most popular publications for decades. (Maternal and Child Health Library)

Publications & Multimedia

Prenatal Care first published.

1913

The publication of Prenatal Care in 1913 was prompted by findings that many of the infants who failed to survive their first month died due to conditions present before birth. It was followed by a second booklet, Infant Care, the next year. Published at a time when very little reliable parenting advice was available, both booklets topped the Federal Government’s bestseller list quickly and remained there for decades to come. By 1929, the Bureau estimated that the information in its pamphlets had benefited one half of all U.S. babies.

 

Keating-Owen Act passed.

Before child labor laws were enacted, many factories employed children under dangerous conditions. This 15-year-old boy was operating a boring machine that severely injured another boy's hand. Pittman Handle Factory, Denison, TX, 1913. (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-nclc-04898)

Before child labor laws were enacted, many factories employed children under dangerous conditions. This 15-year-old boy was operating a boring machine that severely injured another boy's hand. Pittman Handle Factory, Denison, TX, 1913. (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-nclc-04898)

Key Legislation

Keating-Owen Act passed.

1916

The Children’s Bureau was tasked with administering and enforcing the nation’s first Federal child labor law, signed by President Woodrow Wilson on September 1, 1916. This marked the first time that the Bureau’s authority was extended beyond its original mandate to “investigate and report.” The law was struck down by a five-to-four Supreme Court decision in June 1918, but not before Bureau staff helped State officials inspect working conditions in approximately 700 factories and mines.

 

The United States enters World War I.

Patriotic poster from World War I (1917). (Library of Congress, LC-USZC4-10038)

Patriotic poster from World War I (1917). (Library of Congress, LC-USZC4-10038)

National & World Events

The United States enters World War I.

1917–1918

The first World War brought many potential threats to U.S. children’s health and well-being, including shortages of milk, food, and public health nurses, as well as increased demand for mothers and children to join the workforce.

 

Children’s Year began.

Children's Bureau poster commemorating Children's Year, circa 1918. (Library of Congress, LC-USZC4-9867)

Children's Bureau poster commemorating Children's Year, circa 1918. (Library of Congress, LC-USZC4-9867)

Projects & Events

Children’s Year began.

1918

The Children’s Bureau proclaimed “Children’s Year” beginning April 6, 1918, and rallied around the slogan “Save 100,000 Babies.” This wartime campaign was developed to remind the country of the importance of protecting children “as a patriotic duty.” The Children’s Bureau and its partners mobilized 11 million volunteers across the nation to help reduce infant deaths. The campaign focused on weighing and measuring children, educating parents on child health, encouraging play, and keeping children in school and out of the workforce.

 

White House Conference on Child Welfare Standards

Some of the nearly 200 domestic and international attendees at the Second White House Conference on Children in 1919. (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-33232)

Some of the nearly 200 domestic and international attendees at the Second White House Conference on Children in 1919. (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-33232)

Conferences

White House Conference on Child Welfare Standards

1919

At the end of Children’s Year (May 5–8, 1919), President Woodrow Wilson and the Children’s Bureau held the Second White House Conference on Children and Youth. This national gathering of child welfare specialists resulted in new minimum standards for the health, education, and work of American children.

 

Child Welfare News Summary first printed.

Child Welfare News Summary, March 27, 1926 edition. (Regenstein Library at the University of Chicago)

Child Welfare News Summary, March 27, 1926 edition. (Regenstein Library at the University of Chicago)

Publications & Multimedia

Child Welfare News Summary first printed.

1919

The mimeographed Child Welfare News Summary, the Bureau’s first periodical, was issued three times per month from 1921 to 1932 and irregularly between 1932 and 1935. Originally just for Bureau staff, its mailing list grew to include as many as 1,200 State and local partners.

 

Population Milestone

A census enumerator collects information from a father and son during the 1920 census. (U.S. Census Bureau)

A census enumerator collects information from a father and son during the 1920 census. (U.S. Census Bureau)

Statistics & Milestones

Population Milestone

1920

The 1920 census reported a birth registration area of 24 States. Within those States, 129,531 deaths of children under 1 year were recorded, a rate of 86 infant deaths per 1,000 births.

 

Sheppard-Towner Maternity and Infancy Act is passed.

Home visits by nurses such as this one were a critical service funded by the Children's Bureau's Maternity and Infancy program, 1921–1929. (National Library of Medicine)

Home visits by nurses such as this one were a critical service funded by the Children's Bureau's Maternity and Infancy program, 1921–1929. (National Library of Medicine)

Key Legislation

Sheppard-Towner Maternity and Infancy Act is passed.

1921

The Maternity and Infancy Act provided States with the first Federal grants for human services. Under the law signed November 23, 1921, the Children’s Bureau directed matching funds to States for maternal and infant health care services, including the following:

  • Traveling health centers
  • Nurse home visits
  • Midwife training and licensing
  • Parent education, ranging from group classes to filmstrips and correspondence courses
  • Nutrition literature, including translation into other languages
  • Data collection

Before the program ended in 1929, services reached an estimated 700,000 pregnant women and more than 4 million children, many in rural areas. The Act was credited with reducing infant mortality rates and paving the way for later Federal-State child and family programs.

 

Grace Abbott is named second Chief of the Children’s Bureau (1921–1934).

Grace Abbott, the Bureau's second Chief, became one of the first female broadcasters to a national audience when she hosted the NBC Radio series, "Your Child," beginning in 1929. (Associated Press)

Grace Abbott, the Bureau's second Chief, became one of the first female broadcasters to a national audience when she hosted the NBC Radio series, "Your Child," beginning in 1929. (Associated Press)

 

The Children’s Bureau publishes Juvenile-Court Standards and Foster-Home Care for Dependent Children.

Institutions for dependent or delinquent children, such as this Juvenile Asylum, were common when the Bureau was founded. (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ggbain-01563)

Institutions for dependent or delinquent children, such as this Juvenile Asylum, were common when the Bureau was founded. (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ggbain-01563)

Publications & Multimedia

The Children’s Bureau publishes Juvenile-Court Standards and Foster-Home Care for Dependent Children.

1923

Throughout the 1920s, child dependency and protection were topics of great interest for the Children’s Bureau. Increasingly, States recognized that providing institutional care for dependent children was not the answer; instead, resources had to be invested in prevention efforts and social work with families to help children stay in their homes. For those who could not remain at home, there was a growing interest in foster family care.

 

Yale School of Medicine partners with the Children’s Bureau to study rickets.

This 1931 Bureau publication urges parents to give babies regular sun baths and cod liver oil to prevent rickets. (Maternal and Child Health Library)

This 1931 Bureau publication urges parents to give babies regular sun baths and cod liver oil to prevent rickets. (Maternal and Child Health Library)

Projects & Events

Yale School of Medicine partners with the Children’s Bureau to study rickets.

1924

In 1924, the Children’s Bureau conducted a study of the incidence and prevention of rickets in New Haven, CT. A common disease at the time, rickets impaired children’s immune systems, making them more susceptible to pneumonia and death from measles, whooping cough, and other respiratory infections. Staff visited mothers of infants to educate them about preventive measures such as sunbaths and cod liver oil. Regular doctor visits and X-rays provided some of the first evidence that simple preventive measures could be effective in improving children’s health.

 

Children’s Bureau publishes Public Aid to Mothers With Dependent Children.

Children’s Bureau studies on the subject of mothers’ aid, including this 1926 bulletin, helped lay the groundwork for the Aid to Dependent Children program. (Open Library)

Children’s Bureau studies on the subject of mothers’ aid, including this 1926 bulletin, helped lay the groundwork for the Aid to Dependent Children program. (Open Library)

Publications

Children’s Bureau publishes Public Aid to Mothers With Dependent Children.

1926

The Children’s Bureau made the first attempt to create a national picture of mothers’ aid laws during 1921–22, including sponsoring a small conference of experts on the topic. Its 1926 bulletin, Public Aid to Mothers With Dependent Children, summarized the history of such legislation, problems of administration and supervision, and how States determined the pension amount. The Bureau’s early work in this area laid important groundwork for the Aid to Dependent Children section of the 1935 Social Security Act.

 

First standardized juvenile court statistics are collected.

The Children's Bureau began collecting and publishing the first nationwide uniform juvenile court statistics in 1927. (Maternal and Child Health Library)

The Children's Bureau began collecting and publishing the first nationwide uniform juvenile court statistics in 1927. (Maternal and Child Health Library)

Projects & Events

First standardized juvenile court statistics are collected.

1927

Responding to earlier studies showing a lack of consistency across court systems, the Children’s Bureau began collecting and publishing the first nationwide uniform juvenile court statistics in 1927. In addition to collecting data on juvenile delinquency, dependency, and neglect, the Bureau also explored causes of delinquency.

 

Meriam report published.

An ironing class at the Carlisle, PA, Indian School, 1901. (Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-26794)

An ironing class at the Carlisle, PA, Indian School, 1901. (Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-26794)

National & World Events

Meriam report published.

1928

Published by the Institute for Government Research, The Problem of Indian Administration (commonly known as the Meriam Report) took issue with the removal of very young children from their homes and Tribes for placement at assimilation-model boarding schools. The report found conditions at the schools to be “grossly inadequate,” with problems including overcrowding, disease, insufficient medical care, long hours of domestic work, and not enough nutritious food. It suggested that cooperative relationships with public and private organizations, including the Children’s Bureau, could better inform the Indian Service’s work. Cooperation between the two agencies would be established in the decades to come.

 

The Great Depression

Depression refugee family from Iowa, preparing to sell belongings for food, 1936. (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-fsa-8b29797)

Depression refugee family from Iowa, preparing to sell belongings for food, 1936. (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-fsa-8b29797)

National & World Events

The Great Depression

1929–c. 1941

Throughout the Great Depression, the Children’s Bureau played important roles both in documenting the conditions facing the Nation’s children, youth, and families and in designing relief efforts.

 

Population Milestone

A declining infant death rate contributed to a 16-percent rise in the U.S. population between 1920 and 1930. (National Archives and Records Administration, 29-C-1B-15)

A declining infant death rate contributed to a 16-percent rise in the U.S. population between 1920 and 1930. (National Archives and Records Administration, 29-C-1B-15)

Statistics & Milestones

Population Milestone

1930

This new decade saw an improved infant mortality rate of 64.6 per 1,000 infants. A 1930 Children’s Bureau brochure reported a birth registration area of 46 States and the District of Columbia (nearly twice as many States as in 1920). It also noted that 163,000 babies died in 1928, a vast improvement from the 300,000 estimated infant deaths in 1912.

 

White House Conference on Child Health and Protection

Image from materials distributed to delegates at the third White House Conference on Children, 1930. (White House Conference on Child Health and Protection records, Box 145, Hoover Institution Archives)

Image from materials distributed to delegates at the third White House Conference on Children, 1930. (White House Conference on Child Health and Protection records, Box 145, Hoover Institution Archives)

Conferences

White House Conference on Child Health and Protection

1930

The third White House Conference on Children focused on the health and well-being of U.S. children. In preparation for the conference, 1,200 experts gathered research and statistics on child health and development. The conference’s 3,000 attendees then produced a 19-point Children’s Charter, addressing all children’s needs for education, health, welfare, and protection.

 

Children’s Bureau begins collecting national relief statistics.

A family living in Circleville, OH, one of many small cities hit hard by unemployment and poverty during the Great Depression. (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-fsa-8a18461)

A family living in Circleville, OH, one of many small cities hit hard by unemployment and poverty during the Great Depression. (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-fsa-8a18461)

Projects & Events

Children’s Bureau begins collecting national relief statistics.

1930

As the country sank into the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Children’s Bureau assumed the task of gathering monthly reports from nearly 7,000 public and private agencies providing family relief, mothers’ aid, and aid to veterans in U.S. cities. These reports were the sole source of national relief statistics during the Depression’s early years. Also during this time, Bureau staff investigated issues such as the plight of older youth, the effects of reduced family income in certain industries, and the Depression’s impact on child labor practices.

 

Katharine Lenroot becomes the third Children’s Bureau Chief (1934–1951).

Katharine Lenroot, pictured here on her 25th anniversary with the Bureau, was also the first U.S. representative to UNICEF, which she helped to establish in 1946. (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-hec-27884)

Katharine Lenroot, pictured here on her 25th anniversary with the Bureau, was also the first U.S. representative to UNICEF, which she helped to establish in 1946. (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-hec-27884)

Organization

Katharine Lenroot becomes the third Children’s Bureau Chief (1934–1951).

1934

 

The Social Security Act is signed.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act, 1935. (Franklin D. Roosevelt Library)

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act, 1935. (Franklin D. Roosevelt Library)

Key Legislation

The Social Security Act is signed.

1935

Children’s Bureau leaders Grace Abbott, Katharine Lenroot, and Martha Eliot worked together to draft key sections of the Social Security Act (SSA). Title V of the final bill, signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on August 14, 1935, granted the Bureau responsibility for administering three key children’s programs: maternal and child health services, medical care for crippled children, and child welfare services. With SSA funding, the Bureau’s grants to States would increase from $337,371 in 1930 to nearly $11 million by the end of the decade; its staff grew from 143 to 438 during the same period.

 

CB commences publication of The Child.

Cover of The Child, March 1952 edition. (National Archives)

Cover of The Child, March 1952 edition. (National Archives)

Publications & Multimedia

CB commences publication of The Child.

1936

In 1936, the Children’s Bureau introduced a new periodical. The Child: Monthly News Summary offered subscribers reports from Bureau divisions, including summaries of current research, recent publications, international news, and events of interest. As introduced by Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins in a foreword to the first issue, the publication’s aim was to “provide a regular means of communication between the Children’s Bureau and those who in their own States and communities are striving to establish a more adequate basis for child life.”

 

The Fair Labor Standards Act is passed.

Harry McShane, 16, lost his left arm in a 1908 factory accident. The Fair Labor Standards Act, passed 30 years later, helped to protect children from dangerous employment. (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-nclc-01312)

Harry McShane, 16, lost his left arm in a 1908 factory accident. The Fair Labor Standards Act, passed 30 years later, helped to protect children from dangerous employment. (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-nclc-01312)

Key Legislation

The Fair Labor Standards Act is passed.

1938

Passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act on June 4, 1938, represented a major victory for the Children’s Bureau and its partners in seeking Federal regulation of child labor. The Act set a minimum age of 16 for general full-time employment and 18 in certain dangerous occupations. These standards had first been established by the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, which was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1935. The Fair Labor Standards Act reenacted those codes and put a “floor under wages and a ceiling over hours of work” in interstate businesses. The Children’s Bureau worked with State departments of labor and education to enforce the law’s child labor provisions.

 

Population Milestone

A mother cares for her infant, c. 1940. (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-fsa-8e09017)

A mother cares for her infant, c. 1940. (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-fsa-8e09017)

Statistics & Milestones

Population Milestone

1940

By 1940, the infant mortality rate in the Continental United States had been reduced to 47 deaths per 1,000 live births—less than half the estimated rate (1 in 10) that the Children’s Bureau faced when it began its work in 1912.

 

White House Conference on Children in a Democracy

Poverty and equal opportunity were among the topics discussed at the fourth White House Conference on Children in 1940. (Maternal and Child Health Library)

Poverty and equal opportunity were among the topics discussed at the fourth White House Conference on Children in 1940. (Maternal and Child Health Library)

Conferences

White House Conference on Children in a Democracy

1940

At the fourth White House Conference on Children, the Children’s Bureau invited approximately 700 attendees to examine the principles, conditions, and services that contribute to the well-being of children in a democracy. Poverty and equal opportunity were among the topics discussed. This White House gathering boasted several “firsts”: a few youth were invited to attend, and the focus was expanded to address the needs of all children, not just those considered needy or handicapped.

 

U.S. involvement in WWII

World War II brought many changes for families, as shown by this poster from the U.S. Employment Service, c. 1944. (Library of Congress, LC-USZC4-5603)

World War II brought many changes for families, as shown by this poster from the U.S. Employment Service, c. 1944. (Library of Congress, LC-USZC4-5603)

National & World Events

U.S. involvement in WWII

1941–1945

The demands of World War II resulted in some significant changes in society, including a relaxation of child labor standards, increased juvenile delinquency, and large-scale entry of women into the workforce—all issues that the Children’s Bureau would confront in subsequent decades.

 

The Children’s Bureau publishes standards for the care of refugee children.

Children from several European nations play together at the Children's Colony, a New York City school for refugee children (1942). (Library of Congress, LC-USW3-009932-E)

Children from several European nations play together at the Children's Colony, a New York City school for refugee children (1942). (Library of Congress, LC-USW3-009932-E)

Publications

The Children’s Bureau publishes standards for the care of refugee children.

1941

In June 1940, the U.S. Committee for the Care of European Children was formed to facilitate the care and safety of evacuated children. Soon after, the Bureau accepted responsibility for overseeing foster-home placement for more than 8,000 unaccompanied European children who came to the United States during the war. Standards for their care, to be provided by 184 agencies in 40 States approved by the Children’s Bureau, were published in 1941. At the end of the war, the Children’s Bureau also helped find homes for more than 1,000 displaced children and adolescent survivors of concentration camps.

 

The Children’s Bureau holds Conference on Day Care of Children of Working Mothers.

A mother waves goodbye to her 5-year-old son, who will attend a nursery school for war workers' children during her shift (1943). (Library of Congress, LC-USE6-D-010015)

A mother waves goodbye to her 5-year-old son, who will attend a nursery school for war workers' children during her shift (1943). (Library of Congress, LC-USE6-D-010015)

Conferences

The Children’s Bureau holds Conference on Day Care of Children of Working Mothers.

1941

As American men went off to war, women went to work. During the summer of 1941, the Children’s Bureau convened a Conference on Day Care of Children of Working Mothers to address the growing number of children left unsupervised due to a shortage of affordable quality care—a problem expected to worsen as the demand for wartime labor grew. The Committee on Standards and Services for Day Care submitted detailed standards, which the Bureau published in 1942.

 

“Children in Wartime” campaign begins.

A 1942 Children's Bureau publication instructs parents in how to make simple toys for their children out of materials available during World War II. (Maternal and Child Health Library)

A 1942 Children's Bureau publication instructs parents in how to make simple toys for their children out of materials available during World War II. (Maternal and Child Health Library)

Projects & Events

“Children in Wartime” campaign begins.

1942

In early 1942, the Children’s Bureau launched a campaign to focus the nation’s attention on the plight of children in wartime. A group of 60 carefully selected child welfare professionals was tasked with recommending programs to safeguard children’s well-being. The group also adopted a “Children’s Charter in Wartime” to guide Bureau policy during the war. Much of the Bureau’s wartime effort was directed to producing advice literature and public awareness campaigns, including radio broadcasts, magazine/newspaper features, and several series of booklets and pamphlets focused on children’s physical and emotional needs during the war.

 

Emergency Maternity and Infant Care program begins.

Wives and infants of soldiers like this one, pictured here arriving for duty in Washington, DC, in 1943, were eligible for maternity and infant care funded by the Children's Bureau during World War II. (Library of Congress, LC-USW3-040559-D)

Wives and infants of soldiers like this one, pictured here arriving for duty in Washington, DC, in 1943, were eligible for maternity and infant care funded by the Children's Bureau during World War II. (Library of Congress, LC-USW3-040559-D)

Projects & Events

Emergency Maternity and Infant Care program begins.

1943

The Emergency Maternity and Infant Care (EMIC) program provided medical, hospital, and nursing care for wives and babies of men in the lowest ranks of the Armed Forces. Aimed at providing needed care and boosting soldier morale, the program was at that time the largest public medical program ever undertaken in the United States. Services were administered by State health departments under policies established by the Children’s Bureau. The program was phased out after the war, but not before providing care for approximately 1.5 million women and babies.

 

The Children’s Bureau is moved to the Social Security Administration, within the Federal Security Agency.

President Truman in the Oval Office with Katharine Lenroot in attendance (second from right), 1949. Truman was receiving a report on the work of UNICEF. (National Archives)

President Truman in the Oval Office with Katharine Lenroot in attendance (second from right), 1949. Truman was receiving a report on the work of UNICEF. (National Archives)

Organization

The Children’s Bureau is moved to the Social Security Administration, within the Federal Security Agency.

1946

Under a Federal reorganization by President Truman, the Children’s Bureau was transferred from the Labor Department to the Social Security Administration within the Federal Security Agency. This move (effective July 16, 1946) marked a significant change from the original vision of the Children’s Bureau as a single Federal agency lobbying for the needs of all children to one focused on the needs of specific groups.

 

The Children’s Bureau’s crippled children’s program serves 1 in 300 U.S. children.

A student nurse encourages a young child to learn to use his crutches, with the help of a picture book (1942). (Library of Congress, LC-USE6-D-006947)

A student nurse encourages a young child to learn to use his crutches, with the help of a picture book (1942). (Library of Congress, LC-USE6-D-006947)

Projects & Events

The Children’s Bureau’s crippled children’s program serves 1 in 300 U.S. children.

1948

The focus of the Bureau’s crippled children’s program (authorized by the Social Security Act of 1935) was helping children with disabilities stay within their own families, schools, and communities. During the 1940s and 1950s, the program gradually grew beyond treatment of orthopedic handicaps, its original purpose, to include care for children with hearing loss, cerebral palsy, cleft palates, burns, and epilepsy, among others. Beginning in 1949, the first programs to address congenital heart defects were established using these funds. The development of artificial limbs for children was another cutting-edge practice advanced with the help of Children’s Bureau funding.

 

Midcentury White House Conference on Children and Youth

Katharine Lenroot (far right) and a gathering of youth attendees to the Midcentury White House Conference on Children and Youth (1950). (National Archives)

Katharine Lenroot (far right) and a gathering of youth attendees to the Midcentury White House Conference on Children and Youth (1950). (National Archives)

Conferences

Midcentury White House Conference on Children and Youth

1950

The fifth White House Conference on Children—attended by nearly 6,000 people, including 500 youth and 200 foreign delegates—was the first to focus on the emotional well-being of children. The conference explored this question: “How can we develop in children the mental, emotional, and spiritual qualities essential to individual happiness and responsible citizenship?” Products of the conference included A Pledge to Children, a technical book for social workers, and a handbook for parents on developing a child’s healthy personality. Conference findings related to the harmful effects of segregation would later be cited by the Supreme Court in its 1954 decision outlawing racial segregation in public schools.

 

The Korean War

Sgt. James W. Black of the Fifth Air Force's 49th Fighter Bomber Wing instructs a Korean youth, Kim Pak Soon, in the fundamentals of baseball during the Korean War, 1951. (National Archives)

Sgt. James W. Black of the Fifth Air Force's 49th Fighter Bomber Wing instructs a Korean youth, Kim Pak Soon, in the fundamentals of baseball during the Korean War, 1951. (National Archives)

National & World Events

The Korean War

1950–1953

The United States entered the conflict in Korea in June of 1950; when U.S. forces withdrew 3 years later, thousands of children orphaned by the conflict were left behind. National interest in the fate of these children, many of whom were fathered by American soldiers, sparked the first significant wave of international adoptions in the United States.

 

Martha Eliot becomes fourth Chief of the Children’s Bureau (1951–1956).

Martha Eliot, M.D., takes the oath of office as Chief of the Children's Bureau in 1951. (National Archives)

Martha Eliot, M.D., takes the oath of office as Chief of the Children's Bureau in 1951. (National Archives)

Organization

Martha Eliot becomes fourth Chief of the Children’s Bureau (1951–1956).

1951

 

Children’s Bureau funding supports professional development for hundreds of child welfare workers.

A homemaker from the State Board of Public Welfare in Raleigh, NC, works with a mother on home management and child care skills, c. 1950. (National Library of Medicine)

A homemaker from the State Board of Public Welfare in Raleigh, NC, works with a mother on home management and child care skills, c. 1950. (National Library of Medicine)

Projects & Events

Children’s Bureau funding supports professional development for hundreds of child welfare workers.

1952

A portion of funds from the Social Security Act’s child welfare program have always been used to enhance professional development. In 1952, 500 child welfare workers in 47 States completed educational leave; 92 percent of these did so with the Bureau’s help.

Ensuring that trained workers were available to families in rural areas, not just cities, was a strong priority. Between 1950 and 1960, the number of public child welfare employees with full professional education more than doubled; by 1958, the majority of these workers in rural areas had received Federal funds for their training. Yet in 1960, the country still faced a shortage of approximately 3,000 trained public child welfare workers. The Bureau would continue to help agencies address this gap in the decades to come.

 

The Children’s Bureau becomes part of the new Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

Oveta Culp Hobby, first Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, c. 1953. (Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-66357)

Oveta Culp Hobby, first Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, c. 1953. (Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-66357)

Organization

The Children’s Bureau becomes part of the new Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

1953

 

A Research Program for the Children’s Bureau is published.

Cover of A Research Program for the Children’s Bureau.

Publications & Multimedia

A Research Program for the Children’s Bureau is published.

1953

In the early 1950s, the Children’s Bureau took a closer look at the focus and scope of its research program. After reviewing previously published studies, analyzing current research activities, and inviting recommendations from experts in related fields, the Bureau published A Research Program for the Children’s Bureau in 1953. This led to an increased focus within the Bureau on specific groups of children whose health or welfare was in jeopardy. The Bureau also began directing more of its attention to examining the cost and effectiveness of funded programs. In 1959, the Bureau published Some Guide Lines to Evaluative Research, which served as an important precursor to the establishment, in the early 1960s, of the first Children’s Bureau-funded research and demonstration grants in the field of child welfare.

 

Children’s Bureau publishes a new bimonthly magazine, Children (1954–1971).

The Bureau's monthly magazine, The Child, was replaced by a bimonthly journal, Children, in 1954. (Maternal and Child Health Library)

The Bureau's monthly magazine, The Child, was replaced by a bimonthly journal, Children, in 1954. (Maternal and Child Health Library)

Publications & Multimedia

Children’s Bureau publishes a new bimonthly magazine, Children (1954–1971).

1954

The Children’s Bureau’s longstanding monthly periodical, The Child, was replaced by a bimonthly magazine, Children, in 1954. The audience envisioned for Children was a broad one: professionals in all fields concerned with children’s well-being. The magazine promised to offer “a balanced fare of technical articles on health, welfare, and child development; what needs doing and why; who’s doing, or might do, what; and how to do it” and to give voice to multiple perspectives through “data, discussion, and debate on the physical, social, emotional, and cultural aspects of child growth and development; on standards of child care and professional training; and on developments in professional techniques, personnel, and programs serving children and parents.”

 

The Children’s Bureau initiates the Special Juvenile Delinquency Project.

President Truman with members of the National Conference on Prevention and Control of Juvenile Delinquency, 1948. (National Archives)

President Truman with members of the National Conference on Prevention and Control of Juvenile Delinquency, 1948. (National Archives)

Projects & Events

The Children’s Bureau initiates the Special Juvenile Delinquency Project.

1954

With delinquency rates on the rise in the early 1950s, the Children’s Bureau formed the Special Juvenile Delinquency Project to focus public attention on the need for prevention and treatment efforts. The Project (a partnership of foundations and other private organizations) sponsored meetings throughout 1952. They also collaborated on a series of practice guides and standards for workers in the delinquency field. These activities were precursors to the National Conference on Juvenile Delinquency, held in Washington, DC, in June 1954. The Special Juvenile Delinquency Project ended in 1955, but the Bureau’s work in this area continued within its new Division of Juvenile Delinquency Service.

 

Senator Kefauver of Tennessee holds oversight hearings on adoption practices.

Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee leaves the White House after meeting with President Truman, January 15, 1952. (Harry S. Truman Library)

Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee leaves the White House after meeting with President Truman, January 15, 1952. (Harry S. Truman Library)

National & World Events

Senator Kefauver of Tennessee holds oversight hearings on adoption practices.

1955

Senator Estes Kefauver initiated the Senate Judiciary Committee’s first hearings about deceptive and abusive private adoption practices in 1955. These hearings, and the shocking testimony of birth parents, adoptive parents, and adopted people, were a significant factor in the development of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children to protect children being placed across State lines for foster care or adoption.

 

Population Milestone

Family sizes and the U.S. child population grew rapidly following World War II, ending a period of slower population growth that began during the Great Depression. (National Library of Medicine)

Family sizes and the U.S. child population grew rapidly following World War II, ending a period of slower population growth that began during the Great Depression. (National Library of Medicine)

Statistical Milestone

Population Milestone

1956

By the mid-1950s, the United States was experiencing a sharp increase in the child population due to continuing declines in infant mortality rates (to an average of 26.6 deaths per 1,000 live births) and the post-WWII “baby boom.” In 1956, the child population reached 57 million. The growing ratio of children to adults would create new challenges in the decades to come, including exacerbating worker shortages in many fields.

 

Katherine Oettinger named fifth Chief of the Children’s Bureau (1957–1968).

Katherine Oettinger (pictured here in 1957) was both the first Children's Bureau Chief formally trained in social work and the first working mother to serve as Chief. (Associated Press)

Katherine Oettinger (pictured here in 1957) was both the first Children's Bureau Chief formally trained in social work and the first working mother to serve as Chief. (Associated Press)

 

Children’s Bureau initiates the first longitudinal study on outcomes for children in private adoptions.

Adoptive parents meet their child for the first time, c. 1960. (National Archives)

Adoptive parents meet their child for the first time, c. 1960. (National Archives)

Projects & Events

Children’s Bureau initiates the first longitudinal study on outcomes for children in private adoptions.

1957

In 1957, the Children’s Bureau initiated a partnership with the Florida Department of Welfare to conduct the first-ever longitudinal study of outcomes for children adopted without the involvement of an agency. Around the same time, a series of Bureau-sponsored conferences and publications explored the proper roles of physicians, attorneys, and social workers in adoption. In 1961, the Bureau published legislative guidelines for States on the separate processes of termination of parental rights and the adoption of children.

 

Advisory Council on Child Welfare Services appointed.

John C. Kidneigh, President of the National Association of Social Workers (1959–1961), served as chair of the Advisory Council on Child Welfare Services. (Courtesy of NASW Foundation)

John C. Kidneigh, President of the National Association of Social Workers (1959–1961), served as chair of the Advisory Council on Child Welfare Services. (Courtesy of NASW Foundation)

Projects & Events

Advisory Council on Child Welfare Services appointed.

1958

The 1958 amendments to the Social Security Act called for an Advisory Council on Child Welfare Services to report to Congress and to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare by January 1960. The 12-member Advisory Council gathered information from State public welfare agencies and national voluntary agencies to inform its recommendations. Several of these were enacted into law later that year, including the authorization of research and demonstration grants in child welfare. The group also recommended steps to address the shortage of trained child welfare workers.

 

Golden Anniversary White House Conference on Children and Youth

Poster from the Golden Anniversary White House Conference on Children and Youth, 1960. (National Archives)

Poster from the Golden Anniversary White House Conference on Children and Youth, 1960. (National Archives)

Conferences

Golden Anniversary White House Conference on Children and Youth

1960

The sixth White House Conference sought “to promote opportunities for children and youth to realize their full potential for a creative life in freedom and dignity.” In late March 1960, 7,600 official delegates (including 1,400 youth) met in work groups to address topics such as the influence of television, rising juvenile delinquency, educational opportunities, and training for professionals. A total of 670 recommendations emerged, in addition to a statement of “youth priorities” developed by the youth participants. Congress appropriated $150,000 for the Children’s Bureau to establish a Special Unit for Follow-Up after the conference.

 

Federal program for Cuban refugee children begins.

A young Cuban refugee holds her dolls in a Florida airport, 1961. (State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/141481)

A young Cuban refugee holds her dolls in a Florida airport, 1961. (State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/141481)

National & World Events

Federal program for Cuban refugee children begins.

1961

Shortly after Fidel Castro assumed power in Cuba in 1959, refugees began arriving in the United States; many of the new arrivals were unaccompanied children. The Federal Government appropriated millions of dollars to assist them. The Children’s Bureau, drawing on its experience with earlier groups of refugee children, provided extensive consultation to States for program planning and placement. By 1966, at least 13,000 unaccompanied children had arrived in the United States, and approximately 8,000 of these received foster care under the Federal program.

 

Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Offenses Control Act

Photograph of an older youth wearing a dark sweatshirt with a hood, leaning against the door frame of a brick building.

Key Legislation

Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Offenses Control Act

1961

President Kennedy formed the President’s Committee on Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Crime in 1961 to review, evaluate, and coordinate Federal activities and to recommend more effective prevention and treatment methods. The Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Offenses Control Act was passed soon after, creating a 3-year program of Federal grants and technical assistance. Additional grants were authorized by later legislation, including the Juvenile Delinquency Prevention and Control Act of 1968. Throughout the 1960s, the Children’s Bureau helped administer grant programs, provided technical assistance to grantees, and created training materials on the subject, although oversight of juvenile delinquency programs gradually moved to other areas within the Federal Government.

 

The Children’s Bureau celebrates 50 years.

President Kennedy prepares to deliver an address at the Children's Bureau 50th Anniversary Celebration, with Katherine Oettinger on his right (1962). (Abbie Rowe. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston)

President Kennedy prepares to deliver an address at the Children's Bureau 50th Anniversary Celebration, with Katherine Oettinger on his right (1962). (Abbie Rowe. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston)

Organization

The Children’s Bureau celebrates 50 years.

1962

The Federal Government celebrated “the golden anniversary of child care as a prime concern” during an all-day ceremony on April 9, 1962. President Kennedy gave the event’s keynote address; his Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Abraham Ribicoff also spoke. That year, Chief Katherine Oettinger oversaw 267 Children’s Bureau employees, a far cry from Julia Lathrop’s 1912 staff of 15.

 

Public Welfare Amendments Act

Photograph of a mother holding up her baby as it stands in a stroller.

Key Legislation

Public Welfare Amendments Act

1962

The Public Welfare Amendments of 1962 made significant changes to the child welfare provisions (title V) of the Social Security Act. Among these, the bill made permanent a 1961 provision authorizing Federal matching funds to States on behalf of children in foster care. In return, States were required to develop a plan for each child in foster care, including periodic reviews of the necessity for care, and provide services to expedite children’s safe return home. The law created administrative links between child welfare and public assistance programs that would have implications for decades to come.

The 1962 amendments also authorized the Children’s Bureau to make grants to institutions of higher learning for child welfare training projects. These grants were first awarded in 1963.

 

The Children’s Bureau distributes model legislation to help States enact child abuse reporting laws.

Dr. C. Henry Kempe, surrounded by young children. Kempe is widely credited with introducing the term "battered child" and sparking recognition of physical child abuse. (Kempe Center)

Dr. C. Henry Kempe, surrounded by young children. Kempe is widely credited with introducing the term "battered child" and sparking recognition of physical child abuse. (Kempe Center)

Programs & Events

The Children’s Bureau distributes model legislation to help States enact child abuse reporting laws.

1963

In January 1962, prompted by increased reports of physical child abuse, the Bureau held a small meeting in Washington, DC, to explore how it might provide leadership to States and communities seeking to address the problem. During the summer of 1963, the Children’s Bureau distributed suggested language for State laws requiring doctors and hospitals to report suspected abuse. Thanks in part to the Bureau’s leadership on this issue, all States had enacted child abuse reporting laws by the end of 1967.

 

Maternal and Child Health and Mental Retardation Planning Amendments

President Kennedy signs the Maternal and Child Health and Mental Retardation Planning Amendments Act, 1963. (Abbie Rowe. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston)

President Kennedy signs the Maternal and Child Health and Mental Retardation Planning Amendments Act, 1963. (Abbie Rowe. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston)

Key Legislation

Maternal and Child Health and Mental Retardation Planning Amendments

1963

The Children’s Bureau’s efforts to prevent and treat mental retardation gained momentum in 1962 when President Kennedy named a 24-member panel to develop a “comprehensive and coordinated attack” on the issue. This led to the passage of the 1963 Maternal and Child Health and Mental Retardation Planning Amendments, which authorized new grants for maternity and infant care and research projects aimed at reducing mental retardation, as well as grants for the development of comprehensive State plans with the same goal. The Maternity and Infant Care Projects were established in April 1964. By 1968, 53 projects were providing regular prenatal appointments, nutrition counseling, transportation and homemaker assistance, and hospital births for low-income mothers in target areas such as crowded urban ghettoes.

 

The Children’s Bureau is moved to the Welfare Administration.

Aerial view of the National Mall. (National Park Service)

Aerial view of the National Mall. (National Park Service)

Organization

The Children’s Bureau is moved to the Welfare Administration.

1963

In January 1963, the Children’s Bureau was moved from the Social Security Administration to the newly created Welfare Administration, which also included the Bureau of Family Services, the Office of Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Development, and the Cuban Refugee Program, among others. This move reflected a growing emphasis on coordination between child welfare services and the Aid to Dependent Children program, administered by the Bureau of Family Services.

 

Medicare, Medicaid, and Head Start are created as part of President Johnson’s “War on Poverty.”

Lady Bird Johnson reads to children in a Project Head Start classroom, March 19, 1966. (National Archives)

Lady Bird Johnson reads to children in a Project Head Start classroom, March 19, 1966. (National Archives)

National & World Events

Medicare, Medicaid, and Head Start are created as part of President Johnson’s “War on Poverty.”

1965

President Johnson’s Economic Opportunity Act, a keystone of his War on Poverty, provided new work opportunity programs as well as education and other supports for struggling families. These programs enhanced the Children’s Bureau’s work on behalf of children by providing critical supports for children, youth, and their families.

 

The Changing Nature of Foster Care

President Lyndon B. Johnson visits with schoolchildren in the Oval Office, 1967. (Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, photo by Yoichi Okamoto)

President Lyndon B. Johnson visits with schoolchildren in the Oval Office, 1967. (Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, photo by Yoichi Okamoto)

Statistical Milestone

The Changing Nature of Foster Care

1967

Between 1961 and 1967, there was a 50-percent increase in the number of children receiving child welfare services in an average month. At the same time, the composition of children in foster care changed. Enhanced economic supports for families, a result of President Johnson’s “War on Poverty” programs, meant fewer families were breaking up due to poverty alone. As a result, a larger percentage of children entering foster care did so for reasons that caused greater emotional disturbance, such as abuse and neglect, parental instability, and substance abuse.

 

The U.S. Supreme Court issues its in re Gault decision.

U.S. Supreme Court building, c. 1960s. (Library of Congress, HABS DC,WASH,535—2)

U.S. Supreme Court building, c. 1960s. (Library of Congress, HABS DC,WASH,535—2)

National & World Events

The U.S. Supreme Court issues its in re Gault decision.

1967

In 1967, the Children’s Bureau released a revised version of its Standards for Juvenile and Family Courts, which emphasized the importance of due process for youth offenders. The U.S. Supreme Court cited these standards in its landmark in re Gault decision the same year.

 

A portion of maternal and child health funds are earmarked for family planning.

A woman peruses a table of family planning literature. (National Library of Medicine)

A woman peruses a table of family planning literature. (National Library of Medicine)

Programs & Events

A portion of maternal and child health funds are earmarked for family planning.

1967

The 1967 Social Security Amendments earmarked 6 percent of maternal and child health funds for family planning, officially sanctioning the Children’s Bureau’s involvement in these services for the first time. By 1968, nearly all States were providing some form of family planning through this program (up from 20 States just 4 years earlier), bringing assistance to more than 420,000 women. In the meantime, family planning had become a deep personal interest of Chief Oettinger. In early 1968, President Johnson reassigned Oettinger from the Children’s Bureau to be the new Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population and Family Planning, HEW.

 

The Children’s Bureau moves to the Office of Child Development.

Many of the health programs originally created by the Children's Bureau are administered by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau today.

Many of the health programs originally created by the Children's Bureau are administered by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau today.

Organization

The Children’s Bureau moves to the Office of Child Development.

1969

In 1969, the Children’s Bureau, which had been briefly assigned to the Social and Rehabilitation Service in 1967, became part of the new Office of Child Development (OCD) within HEW’s Office of the Secretary. In that reorganization, many of the Bureau’s responsibilities were assigned to other areas of the Federal Government, never to be regained. All health programs were permanently relocated to the Public Health Service, while juvenile delinquency, title IV child welfare, and AFDC family services stayed with the Social and Rehabilitation Service. Despite the loss of many of its programs, the Bureau retained responsibilities for administering research and demonstration grants, advocating for disadvantaged children, setting standards for child welfare services, providing technical assistance to States, drafting models for State legislation, and recommending Federal legislation involving children.

 

Dr. Edward Zigler is appointed Director of the Office of Child Development (OCD) and Chief of the Children’s Bureau.

Chief Zigler, in an article published in Children: "The Children's Bureau, in its advocacy function, will be even more important and influential under the present organization than it has been in the past." (National Archives)

Chief Zigler, in an article published in Children: "The Children's Bureau, in its advocacy function, will be even more important and influential under the present organization than it has been in the past." (National Archives)

Organization

Dr. Edward Zigler is appointed Director of the Office of Child Development (OCD) and Chief of the Children’s Bureau.

1970

The position of Chief of the Children’s Bureau changed significantly with the 1969 reorganization. The Director of OCD would hereafter also hold the title of Chief of the Bureau. Dr. Edward Zigler was named OCD’s first Director in 1970. The following year, Zigler appointed pediatrician Frederick Chapman Green to Associate Chief of the Children’s Bureau, responsible for the Bureau’s day-to-day operations.

 

White House Conference on Children and Youth

Attendees at the first-ever White House Conference on Youth, held near Estes Park, CO, line up to receive parkas and boots from the U.S. Army after an unexpected snowfall (April 1971). (Children, vol. 18, no. 4, 1971)

Attendees at the first-ever White House Conference on Youth, held near Estes Park, CO, line up to receive parkas and boots from the U.S. Army after an unexpected snowfall (April 1971). (Children, vol. 18, no. 4, 1971)

Conferences

White House Conference on Children and Youth

1970

The seventh White House Conference on Children, held December 13–18, 1970, explored ways to strengthen children’s individuality and identity and called for a reordering of national priorities to “provide opportunities for every child to learn, grow, and live creatively.” The elimination of racism and poverty were among the concerns discussed by the conference’s approximately 5,000 participants. A separate White House Conference on Youth was held the following year.

 

The Children’s Bureau initiates an effort to increase adoption for African-American children.

Awareness of the need for adoptive families for African-American children grew during the early 1970s. (National Archives)

Awareness of the need for adoptive families for African-American children grew during the early 1970s. (National Archives)

Projects & Events

The Children’s Bureau initiates an effort to increase adoption for African-American children.

1970

In 1970, the Children’s Bureau initiated a multiyear, nationwide recruitment effort to help develop adoption resources for African-American children and children of mixed racial background. They began by conducting interviews with 100 adoptive parents, agency representatives, and African-American organizations in five cities—New York, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Chicago, and Los Angeles—to explore what might be done to enhance recruitment efforts. Transracial and subsidized adoptions were among the potential solutions discussed with respondents; the implications of these would continue to be explored in the decades to come.

 

President Nixon proclaims the first National Action for Foster Children Week.

Dr. Frederick Green, Associate Chief of the Children's Bureau, signs the Bill of Rights for Foster Children in 1973. (Children Today, vol. 2, no. 4, July/August 1973)

Dr. Frederick Green, Associate Chief of the Children's Bureau, signs the Bill of Rights for Foster Children in 1973. (Children Today, vol. 2, no. 4, July/August 1973)

Projects & Events

President Nixon proclaims the first National Action for Foster Children Week.

1972

The Children’s Bureau supported a growing foster parent movement by sponsoring the first National Conference of Foster Parents, May 7–9, 1971, in Chicago. Conference participants discussed a list of the “Rights of Foster Parents” and resolved to initiate an annual National Action for Foster Children Week, first held April 9–15, 1972. Established by a proclamation signed by President Nixon, the week’s activities included a public information campaign and other efforts to raise awareness of the needs of foster children, encourage foster parent recruitment, and assess resources and services for foster children and their families.

 

Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) and creation of the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN)

Douglas Besharov, the first Director of NCCAN and a nationally recognized expert on child protective services, speaking at a Bureau-sponsored meeting c. 1976. (Personal photo of Douglas Besharov)

Douglas Besharov, the first Director of NCCAN and a nationally recognized expert on child protective services, speaking at a Bureau-sponsored meeting c. 1976. (Personal photo of Douglas Besharov)

Key Legislation

Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) and creation of the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN)

1974

CAPTA, signed by President Nixon on January 31, 1974, marked the beginning of a new national response to the problem of child abuse and neglect. The legislation provided Federal assistance to States for prevention, identification, and treatment programs and created the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (now known as the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect) within the Children’s Bureau to serve as a Federal focal point for CAPTA activities. Today CAPTA, most recently reauthorized in 2010, continues to provide minimum standards for child maltreatment definitions and support States’ prevention and intervention efforts.

 

Operation Babylift, Fall of Saigon

President Ford carries a Vietnamese baby from "Clipper 1742," one of the planes that transported South Vietnamese orphans from Saigon to the United States (April 5, 1975). (David Hume Kennerly. Gerald R. Ford Library)

President Ford carries a Vietnamese baby from "Clipper 1742," one of the planes that transported South Vietnamese orphans from Saigon to the United States (April 5, 1975). (David Hume Kennerly. Gerald R. Ford Library)

National & World Events

Operation Babylift, Fall of Saigon

1975

Just before the fall of Saigon, in April 1975, approximately 2,000 infants and young children were quickly evacuated from South Vietnam to the United States under the auspices of the U.S. Agency for International Development. Proponents claimed that the speed with which the action was executed saved many young lives. Critics, however, argued that the children’s orphan status was not clearly established in all cases. In either case, the action brought the issue of intercountry adoption to the world’s attention.

 

Model State Subsidized Adoption Act

The Model State Subsidized Adoption Act was the focus of an article in the November-December 1975 issue of Children Today.

The Model State Subsidized Adoption Act was the focus of an article in the November-December 1975 issue of Children Today.

Publications & Multimedia

Model State Subsidized Adoption Act

1975

The Bureau used the development of model State laws for subsidized adoption and termination of parental rights as a strategy to increase adoptions for children with special needs. The Model State Subsidized Adoption Act, which drew on broad public input as well as the strengths of laws already enacted in 39 States, was approved in July 1975 and disseminated to more than 6,000 State directors, committees, voluntary organizations, schools of social work, and others.

 

Intercountry adoptions increase.

Abandoned at a police station in South Korea, this baby was adopted by her U.S. parents in 1974. (Rainbow World)

Abandoned at a police station in South Korea, this baby was adopted by her U.S. parents in 1974. (Rainbow World)

Statistical Milestone

Intercountry adoptions increase.

1975

Intercountry adoptions had been taking place in significant numbers since the Korean War, with the majority of children arriving from Korea (35,000 between 1953 and 1975). Between 1968 and 1975, the number of intercountry adoptions more than doubled to approximately 3,000 per year. In response to this trend, the Children’s Bureau published Tips on the Care and Adjustment of Vietnamese and Other Asian Children in the United States in 1975.

 

Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) created.

Dr. Blandina Cardenas, pictured with Vice President Walter Mondale and Secretary of HEW Joseph Califano, is sworn in as Commissioner of the new ACYF and Chief of the Children's Bureau (August 4, 1977). (Blandina Cardenas personal photo)

Dr. Blandina Cardenas, pictured with Vice President Walter Mondale and Secretary of HEW Joseph Califano, is sworn in as Commissioner of the new ACYF and Chief of the Children's Bureau (August 4, 1977). (Blandina Cardenas personal photo)

Organization

Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) created.

1977

In 1977, the Office of Child Development was abolished and a new agency, the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) was created to administer its former programs; the Children’s Bureau was one of three major divisions. As part of this reorganization, the Children’s Bureau regained administration of the title IV-B Child Welfare Services program. Just a few days after this reorganization was announced, Dr. Blandina Cardenas was sworn in as Commissioner of the new ACYF and Chief of the Children’s Bureau.

 

Children’s Bureau supports a National Clearinghouse for Home-Based Services.

Street view of Old Capitol, University of Iowa, c. 1970. (University of Iowa Libraries)

Street view of Old Capitol, University of Iowa, c. 1970. (University of Iowa Libraries)

Projects & Events

Children’s Bureau supports a National Clearinghouse for Home-Based Services.

1977

In 1977, the Children’s Bureau began supporting a National Clearinghouse for Home-Based Services to Children and Families at the University of Iowa School of Social Work. The clearinghouse was created to facilitate research on home-based prevention programs and to serve as a resource for public and private agencies funding programs designed to support, strengthen, and maintain children’s families rather than replace them. These more comprehensive and intensive service models built upon the earlier, more limited versions of home-based services such as nurse visiting or homemaking.

 

Increase in number of children in foster care raises concerns about foster care “drift.”

Photograph of a teenage girl sitting backwards in a car with the doors open with her arms over the seat as seen through a chain link fence.

Statistical Milestone

Increase in number of children in foster care raises concerns about foster care “drift.”

1978

During the mid-1970s, there was growing alarm about the rapid increase in the number of children in foster care: from 177,000 in 1961 (when Federal matching funds for foster care were first made available) to 503,000 by 1978. Studies in California, Massachusetts, New York, and other States documented the plight of foster children languishing in State custody. News reports, including a 1975 series of articles in the New York Daily News, brought the issue to a wider public.

 

Indian Child Welfare Act

The Children's Bureau published this study on Indian child welfare in 1976, shortly before ICWA was passed. (Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Museum of the American Indian Archives)

The Children's Bureau published this study on Indian child welfare in 1976, shortly before ICWA was passed. (Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Museum of the American Indian Archives)

Key Legislation

Indian Child Welfare Act

1978

Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) to protect the best interests of children and promote the stability and security of Indian Tribes and Native families. A 1976 study by the Association on American Indian Affairs showed that 25 to 35 percent of Indian children were being removed from their homes by State courts and welfare agencies. The vast majority (85 percent) of these were placed in non-Indian homes or institutions, resulting in lost ties between children and their communities. ICWA granted jurisdiction to the Tribe in child custody and adoption matters involving Native American children.

 

CB offers grants to establish a National Child Welfare Training Center and 10 regional training centers.

The University of Michigan's Henry S. Frieze Building housed the School of Social Work during the 1970s. (University of Michigan School of Social Work)

The University of Michigan's Henry S. Frieze Building housed the School of Social Work during the 1970s. (University of Michigan School of Social Work)

Projects & Events

CB offers grants to establish a National Child Welfare Training Center and 10 regional training centers.

1979

A 1977 Children’s Bureau workforce study found a significant void in professional child welfare leadership and practice, minimal staff development, and heavy workloads. In response, the Bureau provided grants totaling more than $2 million in 1979 to establish a National Child Welfare Training Center at the University of Michigan School of Social Work and 10 regional training centers. The National Center focused on reviewing educational programs for the child welfare workforce, disseminating best practices, and coordinating the regional centers’ efforts.

 

User Manual Series launched.

The Child Abuse and Neglect User Manual Series is one of the Bureau's most popular and enduring publication series. (Child Welfare Information Gateway)

The Child Abuse and Neglect User Manual Series is one of the Bureau's most popular and enduring publication series. (Child Welfare Information Gateway)

Publications & Multimedia

User Manual Series launched.

1979

In 1979, the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect launched a new series of resources regarding the prevention, identification, and treatment of child abuse and neglect. Many volumes in the series were addressed to certain professions while others focused on specific topics, but all of the User Manuals advocated a multidisciplinary approach. The User Manual Series has become one of the Bureau’s most popular and enduring publications. Some of the titles were revised in the early 1990s; the latest versions were released between 2003 and 2010.

 

The U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) becomes the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

1980 Department of Health and Human Services Logo

Organization

The U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) becomes the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

1980

 

Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act

President Carter (pictured in 1978) signed the landmark Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act on June 17, 1980. (Jimmy Carter Library)

President Carter (pictured in 1978) signed the landmark Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act on June 17, 1980. (Jimmy Carter Library)

Key Legislation

Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act

1980

Thanks to the efforts of national advocacy groups, adoptive parent organizations, foster parents and children, several Members of Congress, and Children’s Bureau leadership and staff, the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act (P.L. 96-272) was signed by President Carter on June 17, 1980. This groundbreaking law reflected a new Federal emphasis on permanence for children. Among its requirements were the first Federal adoption assistance for children with special needs and a mandate for States to make “reasonable efforts” to prevent foster care placement or to return children home as quickly as possible. It would be many years before the child welfare system reaped the law’s full benefits.

 

First Adoption Opportunities grants awarded.

Senator Walter Mondale speaks at a 1975 hearing of the Subcommittee on Children and Youth; a framework for the first Federal legislation in adoption emerged from these hearings. (Minnesota Historical Society)

Senator Walter Mondale speaks at a 1975 hearing of the Subcommittee on Children and Youth; a framework for the first Federal legislation in adoption emerged from these hearings. (Minnesota Historical Society)

Projects & Events

First Adoption Opportunities grants awarded.

1980

Title II of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment and Adoption Reform Act (P.L. 95-266, 1978) established the Adoption Opportunities program to eliminate obstacles and facilitate adoption for children with special needs. Early grants under this program, first awarded in FY 1980, helped to establish Regional Adoption Resource Centers, develop the National Adoption Information Exchange, support the creation of public service announcements to recruit adoptive and foster parents, and meet the needs of minority children awaiting adoptive families.

 

The first National Incidence Study on Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-1) is published.

Cover of the NIS-4, published by the Children's Bureau in 2010.

Cover of the NIS-4, published by the Children's Bureau in 2010.

Publications & Multimedia

The first National Incidence Study on Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-1) is published.

1981

CAPTA mandated “a complete and full study and investigation of the national incidence of child abuse and neglect, including a determination of the extent to which incidents of child abuse and neglect are increasing in number or severity.” The first comprehensive study to use uniform definitions of abuse and neglect in collecting national data on child maltreatment, The National Study of the Incidence and Severity of Child Abuse and Neglect, was conducted in 1979–80 and published by the Children’s Bureau’s National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect in 1981. This study, referred to as NIS-1, included data from 25 counties in 10 States; later National Incidence Studies were published in 1988, 1996, and 2010.

 

The Voluntary Cooperative Information System begins collecting national foster care and adoption data.

Photograph of a mother throwing a frisbee to her young son outdoors.

Projects & Events

The Voluntary Cooperative Information System begins collecting national foster care and adoption data.

1982

The Federal Government collected voluntary annual data on substitute care and adoption from the late 1940s until 1975; however, between 1975 and the early 1980s, virtually no State-specific data were reported. In response to new Federal regulations, the Children’s Bureau funded the Voluntary Cooperative Information System (VCIS) in 1982 through a grant to the American Public Welfare Association. Data were collected through VCIS until 1994, when it was replaced by the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS).

 

First National Child Abuse Prevention Month proclamation

Child Abuse Prevention Month poster, 2002. (National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information)

Child Abuse Prevention Month poster, 2002. (National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information)

Projects & Events

First National Child Abuse Prevention Month proclamation

1983

In 1982, Congress resolved that June 6–12 should be designated as the first National Child Abuse Prevention Week; the following year, President Reagan proclaimed April to be the first National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a tradition that continues to this day. The Bureau’s National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect coordinated activities at the Federal level, including creation and dissemination of information and promotional materials. In 1984 for example, posters, bumper stickers, and buttons displayed the theme, “Kids—You can’t beat ‘em.” Print, radio, and television PSAs, meanwhile, urged viewers to “Take time out. Don’t take it out on your kid.”

 

Foster care population decreases.

Photograph of a mother smiling and leaning over sons shoulder to move a chess piece on the board in front of the boy as he looks up at her.

Statistics & Milestones

Foster care population decreases.

1977–1984

During the early 1980s, the number of children in the U.S. foster care system declined by approximately 45 percent, from 502,000 in 1977 to 276,000 in 1984. This decline is generally attributed to the provisions of (and permanency planning philosophy behind) the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980.

 

Child Abuse Prevention Federal Challenge Grants Act

Ray Helfer, M.D. (right), who first conceived the idea for children's trust funds, congratulates Governor John Carlin of Kansas on establishing the first State trust fund in 1980. (National Alliance of Children's Trust and Prevention Funds)

Ray Helfer, M.D. (right), who first conceived the idea for children's trust funds, congratulates Governor John Carlin of Kansas on establishing the first State trust fund in 1980. (National Alliance of Children's Trust and Prevention Funds)

Key Legislation

Child Abuse Prevention Federal Challenge Grants Act

1984

The Children’s Bureau was an early supporter of State Children’s Trust Funds. Kansas was the first State to pass such legislation in the spring of 1980, requiring revenues from surcharges placed on marriage licenses to be used to support child abuse prevention. By 1984, the number of States with Trust Funds was up to 15. That year, Congress passed the Child Abuse Prevention Federal Challenge Grants Act (title IV of P.L. 98–473) to encourage more States to follow suit. By 1989, all but three States had passed Children’s Trust Fund legislation.

 

The Children’s Bureau expands technical assistance to States.

The grant for the National Legal Resource Center for Child Advocacy and Protection was awarded to the American Bar Association. (American Bar Association)

The grant for the National Legal Resource Center for Child Advocacy and Protection was awarded to the American Bar Association. (American Bar Association)

Projects & Events

The Children’s Bureau expands technical assistance to States.

1986

In FY 1986, the Children’s Bureau awarded grants to create six National Resource Centers (NRCs) for Child Welfare Services to provide consultation to States on family-based services, foster and residential care, legal resources on child welfare programs, child welfare program management and administration, youth services, and special needs adoption. Three additional Resource Centers—one on child welfare services for developmentally disabled children, one on child abuse and neglect, and a child abuse clinical resource center—were announced later that year. Also in 1986, Congress called for the establishment of a National Adoption Information Clearinghouse to collect and disseminate information and data on all aspects of infant adoption and adoption of children with special needs.

 

Congress creates the first Federal Independent Living program.

Photograph of a diverse group of youth lying on their backs in the grass with their heads together forming a star.

Key Legislation

Congress creates the first Federal Independent Living program.

1986

The availability of better quality data about children in foster care soon revealed that a growing number of older youth were “aging out” of the foster care system with little preparation or support. In 1986, Congress created the first Federal program to support Independent Living services: P.L. 99–272 required the Children’s Bureau to help States establish initiatives to prepare foster children ages 16 or over for a more successful adulthood. The program’s authorization was made permanent in 1993 and was later expanded through the Foster Care Independence Act of 1999.

 

The Children’s Bureau celebrates its 75th anniversary.

Brochure marking the Children's Bureau's 75th anniversary. (Maternal and Child Health Library)

Brochure marking the Children's Bureau's 75th anniversary. (Maternal and Child Health Library)

Organization

The Children’s Bureau celebrates its 75th anniversary.

1987

On June 24, 1987, Federal leaders and children’s advocates gathered at Children’s Hospital National Medical Center in Washington, DC, to celebrate the Bureau’s 75th anniversary. Attendees included Dodie Truman Livingston, Chief of the Children’s Bureau, as well as Otis Bowen, Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Jean Elder, Assistant Secretary for Human Development Services. A highlight of the celebration was the announcement of the Secretary’s Commemorative Awards, which honored “significant contributions in promoting the well-being, growth, and development of America’s children.”

 

First National Foster Care Month proclamation

A group of smiling, diverse people standing in a circle with their hands in the middle.

National & World Events

First National Foster Care Month proclamation

1988

In 1988, the National Foster Parent Association persuaded Senator Strom Thurmond to introduce a resolution to proclaim May as National Foster Care Month. President George H.W. Bush issued an annual proclamation during each year of his presidency, providing an impetus for State, county, and city proclamations. The focus of these early efforts was appreciation and recognition of the tremendous contributions of foster parents across the nation.

 

First U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect report is published.

First report of the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect (1990).

First report of the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect (1990).

Publications & Multimedia

First U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect report is published.

1990

The U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect, established under the 1988 amendments to CAPTA, published its first report in 1990. Titled Child Abuse and Neglect: Critical First Steps in Response to a National Emergency, the report suggested 31 steps that would be necessary before the existing child protection system could be replaced with a new national strategy. Building on this idea, the U.S. Advisory Board issued a follow-up report in 1993 describing steps to create a comprehensive, neighborhood-based approach to preventing child maltreatment.

 

LONGSCAN begins.

Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect logo

Projects & Events

LONGSCAN begins.

1990

In 1990, the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect initiated the Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect (LONGSCAN), a consortium of research studies to explore the causes and impact of child maltreatment over more than 20 years.

 

"We Can Make a Difference: Strategies for Combating Child Maltreatment"

Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis Sullivan, M.D., launched a nationwide initiative for child abuse prevention in 1990. (Social Security Online)

Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis Sullivan, M.D., launched a nationwide initiative for child abuse prevention in 1990. (Social Security Online)

Conferences

"We Can Make a Difference: Strategies for Combating Child Maltreatment"

1991

In the summer of 1990, Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis W. Sullivan, M.D., created an unprecedented national initiative to raise awareness about child abuse and neglect and promote coordination of prevention and treatment activities. A December 1991 meeting, “We Can Make a Difference: Strategies for Combating Child Maltreatment,” encouraged participants to develop action plans that could be implemented locally. Public service announcements asking the public to “Show You Care” were released during Child Abuse Prevention Month (April) 1992.

 

“Boarder babies” number 10,000.

President George H.W. Bush visits a Washington, DC, hospital ward for infants abandoned by drug-addicted mothers, with Dr. Louis Sullivan in 1989. (Barry Thumma. AP Images)

President George H.W. Bush visits a Washington, DC, hospital ward for infants abandoned by drug-addicted mothers, with Dr. Louis Sullivan in 1989. (Barry Thumma. AP Images)

Statistics & Milestones

“Boarder babies” number 10,000.

1991

During the 1980s, growing numbers of infants ended up as “boarder babies”—remaining in hospitals beyond the period of medical necessity—because they were born exposed to drugs or HIV and their parents could not care for them. In 1988, Congress passed the Abandoned Infants Assistance Act (P.L. 100–505), authorizing funding for program demonstrations to prevent abandonment of infants, address the needs of abandoned infants and young children, provide appropriate homes for them, and recruit and train health and social service professionals.

 

Administration for Children and Families is created.

David Lloyd, director of NCCAN from 1991 to 1995. (Personal photo of David Lloyd)

David Lloyd, director of NCCAN from 1991 to 1995. (Personal photo of David Lloyd)

Organization

Administration for Children and Families is created.

1991

On April 15, 1991, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services underwent a major reorganization. Child-oriented programs from the Family Support Administration, the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant, and the Office of Human Development Services (including ACYF) were consolidated into the newly created Administration for Children and Families. The same year, NCCAN was moved out from within the Children’s Bureau and became a separate entity within ACYF, providing it with greater visibility and control over budget and policy initiatives.

 

First Child Maltreatment report is published.

Cover of Child Maltreatment 1992.

Cover of Child Maltreatment 1992.

Publications & Multimedia

First Child Maltreatment report is published.

1992

The CAPTA amendments of 1988 required the establishment of a new national data collection system on reports of (and deaths due to) child abuse and neglect. This voluntary system came to be known as the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS). The first national report of aggregate data (including data from 47 States, one territory, and the District of Columbia) was published in 1992 using 1990 data.

 

Family Preservation and Support Services Program Act

Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala (pictured observing a 1993 signing with President Clinton) noted, "We need an approach more tailored to the individual needs of each family. An approach that respects the sanctity of the family. An approach that keeps families together." (William J. Clinton Presidential Library)

Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala (pictured observing a 1993 signing with President Clinton) noted, "We need an approach more tailored to the individual needs of each family. An approach that respects the sanctity of the family. An approach that keeps families together." (William J. Clinton Presidential Library)

Key Legislation

Family Preservation and Support Services Program Act

1993

President Clinton signed the Family Preservation and Support Services Program Act (P.L. 103-66) on August 10, 1993. This law authorized funding for services to help preserve, support, and reunify families in crisis. P.L. 103-66 also established the Court Improvement Program and provided funding for States to plan, design, or develop statewide automated child welfare information systems (SACWIS).

 

Child Welfare Waiver Demonstration Program is established.

A report on a 2005–2010 child welfare waiver demonstration program in Minnesota. (Minnesota Department of Human Services)

A report on a 2005–2010 child welfare waiver demonstration program in Minnesota. (Minnesota Department of Human Services)

Projects & Events

Child Welfare Waiver Demonstration Program is established.

1994

The Child Welfare Waiver Demonstration Program was authorized as part of the Social Security Amendments of 1994 (P.L. 103-432). This program allows a limited number of States greater flexibility in the use of child welfare funding to test innovative approaches such as subsidized guardianship and kinship permanence, services to caregivers with substance use disorders, intensive service options, postadoption services, Tribal administration of title IV-E funds, and enhanced training for child welfare staff.

 

Multiethnic Placement Act

Cover of a guide by the Bureau's National Resource Center for Adoption on complying with the Multiethnic Placement Act.

Cover of a guide by the Bureau's National Resource Center for Adoption on complying with the Multiethnic Placement Act.

Key Legislation

Multiethnic Placement Act

1994

Racial disproportionality of the foster care population prompted some prospective adoptive parents to advocate for passage of the Multiethnic Placement Act (MEPA) of 1994. This law prohibits the delay or denial of a child’s adoptive placement solely on the basis of the child or adoptive parent’s race and requires “diligent efforts” to recruit and retain foster and adoptive families that reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the children for whom homes are needed. Two years later, MEPA was amended to remove a provision that had allowed States to consider the child’s ethnic/cultural background (and the prospective parents’ ability to meet the child’s related needs) in placement decisions.

 

First National Adoption Month

Adoption Month poster, 2003.

Adoption Month poster, 2003.

Projects & Events

First National Adoption Month

1995

The first Adoption Week in the United States was established in 1976 by Governor Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts; in 1984, Congress designated the week of November 19–25 the first National Adoption Week. President Clinton was the first to proclaim an entire National Adoption Month, in 1995. Each November since then, Federal, State, and community organizations arrange events and activities that draw attention to the many children in foster care awaiting permanent, caring families.

 

U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect publishes A Nation’s Shame.

Cover of A Nation's Shame (1995).

Cover of A Nation’s Shame (1995).

Publications & Multimedia

U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect publishes A Nation’s Shame.

1995

In the early 1990s, the nation’s attention was captured by a series of shocking news reports describing child maltreatment-related deaths. In response to a mandate from Congress, the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect issued A Nation’s Shame: Fatal Child Abuse and Neglect in the United States in 1995. The report described the nature and extent of child abuse and neglect fatalities and offered 26 recommendations, including increased attention to data collection and research, more effective investigation and prosecution efforts, enhanced professional training, establishment of Child Death Review Teams, and more community-based services and primary prevention efforts.

 

The Office on Child Abuse and Neglect and Federal Interagency Work Group on Child Abuse and Neglect are established.

Catherine Nolan, pictured here at the 18th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect in 2012, has led the Bureau's Office on Child Abuse and Neglect since 1998. (Paltech, Diane Mentzer)

Catherine Nolan, pictured here at the 18th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect in 2012, has led the Bureau's Office on Child Abuse and Neglect since 1998. (Paltech, Diane Mentzer)

Organization

The Office on Child Abuse and Neglect and Federal Interagency Work Group on Child Abuse and Neglect are established.

1996

The 1996 reauthorization of CAPTA abolished the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect and created an Office on Child Abuse and Neglect (OCAN) within the Children’s Bureau to coordinate the functions required under CAPTA. At the same time, a Federal Interagency Work Group on Child Abuse and Neglect (FEDIAWG) was established to replace the Inter-Agency Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect that had been active since 1988. Today, FEDIAWG includes representatives of more than 40 Federal agencies and meets quarterly with OCAN’s leadership and coordination.

 

Community-Based Family Resource and Support (CBFRS) program is established.

Graphic of rows of houses drawn in a child-like style and colored in pastel hues

Projects & Events

Community-Based Family Resource and Support (CBFRS) program is established.

1996

In keeping with the Clinton Administration’s emphasis on collaboration and integration among child- and family-serving systems, a new grants program, Community-Based Family Resource and Support (CBFRS), was created in 1996. These grants reflected the belief that public and private child abuse prevention and treatment programs must work together toward common goals. The CBFRS program (now known as Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention, or CBCAP) requires State lead agencies to establish statewide networks for family support programs, support a coordinated continuum of preventive services, and maximize funding for those services.

 

Adoption and Safe Families Act

Photograph of a Caucasian family of two young boys holding hands with their mother and father as they walk outdoors with a cat in the foreground

Key Legislation

Adoption and Safe Families Act

1997

Signed into law on November 19, 1997, the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) was created to improve the safety of children, promote adoption and other permanent homes for children who need them, and support families. The law required child protection agencies to provide more timely assessment and intervention services to children and families in the child welfare system. While the legislation reaffirmed the importance of making reasonable efforts to preserve and reunify families, it also specified instances where reunification efforts did not have to be made. The law also required the Department of Health and Human Services to establish new outcome measures to monitor and improve State performance.

 

Foster Care Independence Act of 1999

Senator John Chafee of Rhode Island championed legislation to support older youth in foster care. (U.S. Government)

Senator John Chafee of Rhode Island championed legislation to support older youth in foster care. (U.S. Government)

Key Legislation

Foster Care Independence Act of 1999

1999

Building on the Federal Independent Living program created in 1986, the Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 (P.L. 106-169) created the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program to enhance resources and strengthen State accountability for helping older youth leaving foster care to achieve self-sufficiency. This program provided increased funding and flexibility for States and Tribes to support young adults in a wide variety of ways, including help with education, employment, financial management, housing, and connections to caring adults.

 

National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being is initiated.

Photo of a teenage Caucasian boy looking serious with other teenagers in the background

Projects & Events

National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being is initiated.

1999

In 1996, Congress directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct a national longitudinal study of children at risk of abuse or neglect or in the child welfare system. The Children’s Bureau’s National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) provides nationally representative data on child and family well-being outcomes and seeks to relate those outcomes to families’ experience with the child welfare system. Data are drawn from the first-hand reports of children, parents, and other caregivers; reports from caseworkers and teachers; and administrative records.

 

The Children’s Bureau publishes Child Welfare Outcomes 1998.

Image of five Child Welfare Outcomes publication covers fanned out in an arc

Statistics & Milestones

The Children’s Bureau publishes Child Welfare Outcomes 1998.

2000

Child Welfare Outcomes 1998 was the first in a series of annual reports to Congress required by the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997. This publication was the first to report outcomes in child welfare on a national scale, compiling data from both the NCANDS and AFCARS data systems.

 

Children’s Bureau Express is launched.

Children’s Bureau Express logo

Publications & Multimedia

Children’s Bureau Express is launched.

2000

The Children’s Bureau’s long history of publishing research and information for child welfare professionals took a big step into the digital age with the debut of Children’s Bureau Express in March of 2000. Children’s Bureau Express is a monthly online digest of news and information, which is still published today by the Bureau’s Child Welfare Information Gateway. It now reaches an audience of more than 20,000 subscribers monthly.

 

First Child and Family Services Reviews are conducted.

Photograph of two women smiling and talking across a desk in front of a large window.

Projects & Events

First Child and Family Services Reviews are conducted.

2001

In 2001, the Children’s Bureau began a new process to review State child and family services programs. The goal of the Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs) was to help States improve child welfare services and achieve safety, permanency, and well-being for children and families who receive services. The CFSRs also helped the Bureau ensure that States met Federal child welfare requirements and assist States in enhancing their capacity.

 

Quality Improvement Centers are established.

The Quality Improvement Center on Early Childhood (http://:www.qic-ec.org/), established in FY 2009, is one of three QICs currently funded by the Children's Bureau.

The Quality Improvement Center on Early Childhood (http://www.qic-ec.org/), established in FY 2009, is one of three QICs currently funded by the Children's Bureau.

Projects & Events

Quality Improvement Centers are established.

2001

The Quality Improvement Centers (QICs) were established to promote development of evidence-based knowledge about effective child welfare practice and systemic change and to disseminate this information in a way that informs and alters practice at the direct service level. The Children’s Bureau initially funded five QICs—four in child protective services, and one in adoption. More recently, additional QICs have been funded to explore topics such as privatization of child welfare services, nonresident fathers, differential response, early childhood, and representation of children.

 

Children’s Bureau launches the AdoptUSKids national photolisting website.

AdoptUSKids PSAs have appeared on television, billboards, bus shelters, and other media. (Children's Bureau and AdoptUSKids)

AdoptUSKids PSAs have appeared on television, billboards, bus shelters, and other media. (Children's Bureau and AdoptUSKids)

Publications & Multimedia

Children’s Bureau launches the AdoptUSKids national photolisting website.

2002

In July 2002, the Children’s Bureau joined with corporate and nonprofit partners to launch an innovative national approach to increase adoption opportunities for children in foster care. The AdoptUSKids website was the first national, online photolisting site to feature photographs and biographies of children in the foster care system. The website is now part of a comprehensive program of activities that includes training and technical assistance to States and Tribes, support of adoptive parent groups, research to identify barriers to adoption, and a national recruitment campaign.

 

Child Abuse Prevention Initiative

Cover of the 2003 Child Abuse Prevention Community Resource Packet.

Cover of the 2003 Child Abuse Prevention Community Resource Packet.

Projects & Events

Child Abuse Prevention Initiative

2003

In 2003, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the first Presidential Proclamation for Child Abuse Prevention Month, OCAN launched the National Child Abuse Prevention Initiative as a year-long effort. The theme of the 14th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect was devoted to prevention, and OCAN and its National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information partnered with Prevent Child Abuse America and the child abuse prevention community to produce a variety of tools and resources to support national, State, and local public awareness activities. The same year, OCAN released its Emerging Practices in the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect report, the product of a 2-year effort to generate new information about effective and innovative prevention programs.

 

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastate the South.

A member of FEMA's Urban Search and Rescue task force assists a mother and child stranded by flood waters after Hurricane Katrina. (Jocelyn Augustino, FEMA, August 30, 2005, National Archives)

A member of FEMA's Urban Search and Rescue task force assists a mother and child stranded by flood waters after Hurricane Katrina. (Jocelyn Augustino, FEMA, August 30, 2005, National Archives)

National & World Events

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastate the South.

2005

In August and September of 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita made landfall in Louisiana, resulting in the costliest natural disaster in the history of the United States. During the chaotic period that followed, thousands of children and families in the child welfare system were displaced, and access to critical services and records was lost. The Children’s Bureau responded quickly, providing flexible funding to affected States and grants to its National Resource Centers to help rebuild child welfare services. One year after Katrina, in August 2006, the Bureau released updated disaster planning guidance and sponsored a Hurricane Summit to focus on preparedness.

 

Launch of Child Welfare Information Gateway

Child Welfare Information Gateway logo

Publications & Multimedia

Launch of Child Welfare Information Gateway

2006

The Children’s Bureau created a new information service spanning the full spectrum of child welfare topics on June 20, 2006, with the launch of Child Welfare Information Gateway. Child Welfare Information Gateway consolidated and expanded on the Bureau’s two federally mandated clearinghouses—the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information and the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse—which had formerly represented different aspects of the child welfare system.

 

Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act

The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act enabled federally recognized Indian Tribes to directly operate title IV-E programs for the first time. (ICF International, Keith Roselle)

The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act enabled federally recognized Indian Tribes to directly operate title IV-E programs for the first time. (ICF International, Keith Roselle)

Key Legislation

Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act

2008

Enacted October 7, 2008, the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (P.L. 110-351) amended the Social Security Act to improve outcomes for children in foster care, connect and support relative caregivers, and offer incentives for adoption. The Act enhanced services for youth aging out of care and created new programs to help children and youth in or at-risk of entering foster care to reconnect with family members. It also provided the opportunity for federally recognized Indian Tribes, Tribal organizations, and Tribal consortia to directly operate a title IV-E program for the first time. The Bureau helped implement this requirement by conducting numerous outreach activities to Tribes, creating a National Resource Center for Tribes, and providing one-time grants of up to $300,000 for Tribes to develop a title IV-E plan.

 

Children’s Bureau expands its Training and Technical Assistance Network.

Multicolored map of the United States divided into the regions supported by the five Regional Implementation Centers.

Projects & Events

Children’s Bureau expands its Training and Technical Assistance Network.

2008

In 2008, the Children’s Bureau funded five Regional Implementation Centers focused on strategies to achieve sustainable, systemic change and improve outcomes for children and families. The Implementation Centers expand the Training & Technical Assistance (T&TA) Network’s ability to provide in-depth and long-term consultation and support to States and Tribes. That year, the Bureau also launched the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute to serve as a workforce resource to other T&TA Network members.

 

Child Welfare Evaluation Summit

National Child Welfare Evaluation Summit logo

Conferences

Child Welfare Evaluation Summit

2009

Reflecting its emphasis on evidence-based practice, the Children’s Bureau held its first Child Welfare Evaluation Summit May 27–29, 2009. Its purpose was to explore the current state of evaluation practice in the field of child welfare and to promote cohesive, strategic, and sound approaches for evaluating child welfare systems, projects, and programs. A second summit was held August 29–31, 2011.

 

AdoptUSKids helps 10,000 children find families.

Photograph of four African American siblings laying on their stomachs on a lawn side by side with their heads propped up on hands and elbows smiling

Statistics & Milestones

AdoptUSKids helps 10,000 children find families.

2009

In February 2009, the Children’s Bureau announced that more than 10,000 of the 24,000 children who had been listed on the website since the site was launched had been placed for adoption. More than 60 percent of those children were at least 10 years old, 47 percent were African-American, and 20 percent were siblings adopted together. Less than 2 years later, the total number of featured children who had been adopted reached 15,000.

 

National Youth in Transition Database launches.

National Youth in Transition Database logo

Projects & Events

National Youth in Transition Database launches.

2010

The Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 (P.L. 106-169) required the Children’s Bureau to create a data collection system to track State Independent Living services for youth. After consultation with stakeholders and pilot-testing in several States, the Bureau began data collection for the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) in October 2010.

 

Permanency Innovations Initiative

President Barack Obama greets Dewayne, a 10-year-old foster child living in a group home, during a visit to Seattle in 2010. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama greets Dewayne, a 10-year-old foster child living in a group home, during a visit to Seattle in 2010. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

Projects & Events

Permanency Innovations Initiative

2011

In February 2011, the six grantees were announced for the Permanency Innovations Initiative. During the grant cluster’s 5-year term, the Bureau will invest $100 million in individual projects, technical assistance, and site-specific and cross-site evaluation to test innovative approaches and develop knowledge about what works to help foster youth move into permanent homes.

 

Network for Action prevention initiative kicks off.

2011 Network for Action logo

Conferences

Network for Action prevention initiative kicks off.

2011

Network for Action kicked off with a meeting in Alexandria, VA, in June 2011. Jointly sponsored by OCAN, CDC, the FRIENDS National Resource Center, and other national prevention organizations, the Network for Action is driven by three specific goals: to create a shared vision for the future of child abuse prevention, engage in shared action, and develop and strengthen prevention networks at the State and Federal levels. A second national meeting was held in April 2012.

 

Children’s Bureau celebrates 100 years.

The Washington Youth Choir performs at the Children's Bureau's Centennial Celebration on April 9, 2012. (Rodney Choice/www.choicephotography.com)

The Washington Youth Choir performs at the Children's Bureau's Centennial Celebration on April 9, 2012. (Rodney Choice/(http://www.choicephotography.com)

Organization

Children’s Bureau celebrates 100 years.

2012

On April 9, 2012, the Children’s Bureau kicked off a yearlong celebration of its 100th anniversary with a ceremony at the Hubert H. Humphrey Building in Washington, DC. The event included remarks by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, ACYF Commissioner Bryan Samuels, and Acting Associate Commissioner Joe Bock. Former ACYF Commissioner Carol Wilson Spigner (Carol Williams) received the Children’s Bureau Centennial Award for extraordinary vision and leadership in the field of child welfare services.

 
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