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TitleThe Children's Bureau Legacy: Ensuring the Right to Childhood
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Total Pages233
Table of Contents
Chapter 1
Chapter 1: America’s Conscience Gives Birth to the Children’s Bureau
	Industrial Revolution: A Mixed Bag for Children
	The Progressive Era and the Advent of Professional Social Work
	Envisioning the Children’s Bureau
	1909 White House Conference on the Care of Dependent Children
	The Bureau Is Established
Chapter 2
Chapter 2: Saving Babies and Restoring Childhood (1912–1929)
	Getting Started
	Why Babies Die: The Bureau’s First Research Program
	Guidance for Parents
	Defending a Right to Childhood: The Bureau and Child Labor
	Baby Weeks, Children’s Year
	Sheppard-Towner Maternity and Infancy Act
	Delinquency, Dependency, and Disease: The Bureau’s Research
Chapter 3
Chapter 3: The Great Depression and Social Security (1930–1939)
	1930 White House Conference on Child Health and Protection
	Documenting Need: The Depression’s Early Years
	Relief Efforts Begin
	A New Deal for Children: The Social Security Act of 1935
Chapter 4
Chapter 4: Wartime and Recovery (1940–1956)
	White House Conference on Children in a Democracy
	Care for Refugee Children Leads to International Influence
	Providing Maternity and Infant Care for Soldiers’ Families
	Changes for the Bureau
	Midcentury White House Conference on Children and Youth
	The Children’s Bureau’s Research Agenda: Renewed Commitment to Vulnerable Children
	Grant-in-Aid Programs Expand
Chapter 5
Chapter 5: A Growing Government Shrinks the Children’s Bureau (1957–1973)
	The Bureau in the Late 1950s
	Kennedy Administration
	The Children’s Bureau in the Great Society
	Reorganization of the Bureau
	1970 White House Conferences on Children and Youth
	Focus on Foster Care and Adoption (1970–1973)
Chapter 6
Chapter 6: Sharpening the Focus on Child Welfare (1974–1992)
	National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect
	A Crisis in Foster Care
	Proposing Solutions
	Foster Care Reform: The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 (P.L. 96–272)
	A New Administration Brings Challenges for the Bureau
	Progress During the Early 1980s
	New Approaches to Training and Technical Assistance
	Data and Information Systems Improve
	Program and Policy Changes to Address Specific Problems
	Child Abuse and Neglect: “A National Emergency”
Chapter 7
Chapter 7: Partnering With Families and Working to Improve Outcomes (1993–2012)
	Strains on the Foster Care System Prompt New Efforts to Help States
	Family Preservation and Support Services Program
	Federal/State Cooperation Expands
	Racial Disproportionality Prompts a Federal Response: The Multiethnic Placement Act
	NCCAN’s Final Years
	Safety and Permanency: Adoption 2002 and the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997
	Increased Accountability: Child Welfare Outcomes and the Child and Family Services Reviews
	New Resources for Youth Aging Out of Foster Care
	The Bush Administration: New Priorities, New Leaders
	Supporting Systems Change: A New Training and Technical Assistance Strategy
	Addressing the Workforce Crisis
	Legislation Promotes Child and Family Safety and Well-Being
	Child Abuse Prevention Initiative
	Launching a National Recruitment Strategy
	President Obama Supports Recession Help for Struggling Families
	Current Children’s Bureau Grants and Initiatives
	The Children’s Bureau’s Centennial and Beyond
Document Text Contents
Page 1

Children’s Bureau Legacy


Page 2

The Children’s Bureau Legacy: Ensuring the Right to Childhood

Published by the Children’s Bureau, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

This book is dedicated to the thousands of child welfare workers across the Nation who work tirelessly

to improve the lives of children and families.

Public Domain


For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office


Phone: toll free (866) 512-1800; DC area (202) 512-1800

Fax: (202) 512-2104

Mail: Stop IDCC, Washington, DC 20402-0001

Available in these eBook file formats:

ePub ISBN: 9780160917226

MyiLibrary ISBN: 9780160917240

PDF ISBN: 9780160917257

For more information about the Children’s Bureau, visit

For more on Children’s Bureau history, visit

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Children and Families

Administration on Children, Youth and Families
Children’s Bureau

Page 116

control methods.30 This committee built upon recommendations for more Federal

leadership in this area originally presented in a joint report by the National Insti-

tute of Mental Health and the Children’s Bureau in February 1960 at the request

of Congress.31 The committee’s formation was soon followed by the passage of the

Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Offenses Control Act of 1961. This groundbreaking

law created a 3-year program of Federal grants-in-aid and technical assistance for

the prevention and control of juvenile delinquency. Although grants were admin-

istered by the Secretary of HEW, the Children’s Bureau retained an essential role

by helping to administer the grant programs and providing technical assistance to

grantees through its new Youth Development Unit (established within the Office of

the Chief in January 1962) and by continuing to create training materials and other

publications on the subject. Additional grants were authorized by the Juvenile

Delinquency Prevention and Control Act of 1968.32

President Kennedy signs the Maternal and Child Health
and Mental Retardation Planning bill on Oct. 24, 1963. (Cecil
Stoughton. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presi-
dential Library and Museum, Boston)

Mental Retardation

One of the Kennedy admin-

istration’s most notable leg-

acies was its commitment

to prevention and treat-

ment of mental retardation.

This had been a focus of

Children’s Bureau atten-

tion for several years prior

to Kennedy’s election. As

early as 1956, for example,

$1 million of the Children’s

Bureau’s annual maternal

and child health appropri-

ation was earmarked for

programs for mentally re-

tarded children;33 by fiscal

year 1958, the Bureau had

approved 27 State plans

for special projects in this area.34 Meanwhile, the Children’s Bureau continued to

provide national leadership in the diagnosis and treatment of phenylketonuria

Page 117

(PKU), a rare genetic condition that results in severe mental retardation if untreat-

ed. Between 1956 and 1961, the Bureau helped State health departments develop

early detection and treatment programs; as a result of these activities, nearly 500

children with PKU were identified.35

This program gained added momentum in 1962, when the President named a

24-member panel to develop a “comprehensive and coordinated attack” against

mental retardation.36 On October 19, 1962, the panel delivered its report, The Pres-

ident’s Panel on Mental Retardation: A Proposed Program for National Action to Combat

Mental Retardation. This, in turn, led to the development of two laws passed just 1

year later. The 1963 Maternal and Child Health and Mental Retardation Planning

Amendments to the Social Security Act authorized new grants for maternity and

infant care projects and research projects aimed at reducing mental retardation;

it also authorized one-time grants for the development of comprehensive State

plans with the same goal.37 Two advisory committees were appointed to help the

Children’s Bureau implement this law.38 A second law, the Mental Retardation Fa-

cilities and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act, was signed just a

few days later.

President Kennedy delivers the opening speech at the
Children’s Bureau 50th Anniversary Celebration at the Stat-
ler-Hilton Hotel in Washington, DC, April 9, 1962, to a crowd
of more than 1,000. (Abbie Rowe. White House Photographs.
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston)

The Bureau
Celebrates Its
Fiftieth Anniversary

It was during the Kennedy

administration that the

Children’s Bureau marked

its Golden Anniversary. A

Citizens Committee was

formed to organize the

celebration, with Mrs. John

F. Kennedy as the honorary

chairperson. On April 9,

1962, the Children’s Bureau

turned 50 years old, and

the festivities included a

number of special events,

Page 232


Staff of ICF International—notably, Mary Sullivan, Pamela Day, Patricia Brincefield,

and Leslie Siegmund—provided the initial vision and ongoing direction for the

book’s form and content, as well as essential feedback on early drafts. Jill Rivera

Greene, freelance writer and editor, brought their vision to life during months of

extensive research and writing. She was assisted in research tasks by ICF Librar-

ians John Vogel and Thomas Herndon, as well as consultant Charlene Ingram.

Photo research consultants Lisa Durham and Tish King collected a vast library of

historical and present-day images—far more than could be included in the final

product, but all of which enlivened and informed the writing. The cover was de-

signed by Abol Bahadori, based on a 1931 White House conference graphic created

and hand cut by silhouette artist Eveline Maydell.

The following individuals generously agreed to be interviewed for the book, and

their insights augmented and invigorated the Children’s Bureau’s history in a way

that would not otherwise have been possible: MaryLee Allen, Douglas J. Besharov,

Jack Calhoun, Frank Ferro, Olivia Golden, Ph.D., Dan Lewis, David W. Lloyd, Pe-

nelope L. Maza, Ph.D., Beatrice Moore, Catherine M. Nolan, M.S.W., A.C.S.W., Carol

Wilson Spigner, D.S.W., Jake Terpstra, M.S.W., and Joan Levy Zlotnik, Ph.D., A.C.S.W.

A debt of gratitude is owed to the Maternal & Child Health Library at Georgetown

University, whose digitized collection of Children’s Bureau historical publications

was a tremendous resource during the writing of this book. Similarly, the writer’s

task would have been infinitely more difficult without Kriste Lindenmeyer’s com-

prehensive early history, ‘A Right to Childhood,’: The U.S. Children’s Bureau and Child

Welfare, 1912–45.

Page 233

Staff at the U.S. Government Printing Of�ce lent their considerable talents to the

book’s design, development, and e-book distribution.

Finally, many thanks are due to Children’s Bureau staff members who contributed

content, offered guidance, and reviewed drafts of the book. We would be remiss if

we did not mention by name Federal Project Of�cer LaChundra Lindsey and Acting

Associate Commissioner Joe Bock. Just as important, though, are the unnamed

staff members who carry on the legacy described in these pages, working tire-

lessly to ensure safety, well-being, and permanency for America’s children and

families, today and into the future.

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