Children’s Bureau Celebrates 100 Years of Public Service

Thursday, April 5, 2012
Contact: Kenneth J. Wolfe
(202) 401-9215

 Children’s Bureau Celebrates 100 Years of Public Service

The world’s first government agency dedicated to the well-being of children, youth and families will mark its 100th anniversary in 2012, and will commemorate its centennial with a yearlong celebration of recognizing its century of public service. HHS’ Children’s Bureau kicks off this milestone with a ceremony at the Hubert H. Humphrey Building’s Great Hall, located at 200 Independence Ave., S.W., in Washington, D.C. from 2 to 4 p.m., on Monday, April 9.

“This is a proud moment for our agency and the children and families to whom we have shown our commitment,” said George Sheldon, HHS acting assistant secretary for children and families. “I applaud the great work of the men and women who came before us to lay the ground work for those who are here today. We are proudly building on their legacy of compassion.”

Back in 1912, life for many American children was grim. Child labor was as common as infant mortality (one in ten children died before reaching the age of one). With a $25,000 budget and 15 employees, President William Howard Taft created the Children’s Bureau and gave it a mission to lower maternal and infant mortality rates and deal with the issues of child labor and juvenile delinquency. President Taft appointed social reformer, Julia Lathrop, to lead the agency and she became the first woman ever to head a U.S. federal bureau.

Today, the Children’s Bureau’s 150 employees administer programs totaling $8 billion annually. The agency, located within HHS’ Administration for Children and Families, focuses on adoption and foster care; prevention of child abuse and neglect; child welfare; improving the quality of child welfare services; funding child welfare programming in states, tribes and individual organizations; and compiling states’ data on child safety, permanency and well-being.

“The Children’s Bureau has made a real difference in the lives of the most vulnerable Americans,” said Bryan Samuels, commissioner for the Administration on Children, Youth and Families. “A hundred years have passed, but the goal remains the same: protect our nation’s children. Today the bureau works with states and tribes to prevent child abuse and neglect. Incidents where abuse or neglect occurs, the Children’s Bureau works with states and tribal communities to ensure foster kids are placed in safe and permanent homes. It is our obligation to make sure our children and families reach their highest potential, and the bureau is committed to protecting our children for the next century as well.”

Throughout its 100th year, the Children’s Bureau will offer 12 webinars to highlight the history and work of the agency, with the first one beginning April 11, 2012. A commemorative e-book will be available for order through the Government Printing Office later this summer. Child welfare professionals will be engaged throughout the year, culminating with a “second-century document” due in March 2013 to help the Children’s Bureau navigate its next century.

For more information about the Children’s Bureau centennial, visit



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