United States Children's Bureau
||This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. (March 2011)|
|United States Children's Bureau|
|Agency executives||Julia Lathrop, Director, 1912-1920
Grace Abbott, Director, 1920-1934
Katherine Lenroot, Director, 1934-1952
|Parent Agency||United States Department of Health and Human Services|
The United States Children's Bureau is a federal agency organized under the United States Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families. Today, the bureau's operations involve improving child abuse prevention, foster care, and adoption. Historically, its work was much broader, as shown by the 1912 act which created and funded it:
- "The said bureau shall investigate and report to [the Department of Commerce and Labor] upon all matters pertaining to the welfare of children and child life among all classes of our people, and shall especially investigate the questions of infant mortality, the birth-rate, orphanage, juvenile courts, desertion, dangerous occupations, accidents and diseases of children, employment, legislation affecting children in the several states and territories."
During the height of its influence, the Bureau was directed, managed, and staffed almost entirely by women—a rarity for any federal agency in the early 20th century. It was most influential in bringing the methods of reform-oriented social research and the ideas of maternalist reformers to bear on federal government policy.
New Deal legislation, including the Fair Labor Standards Act and Aid to Dependent Children programs, incorporated many reforms that the Children's Bureau and its network of grassroots women's organizations had supported for years. By the time the Children's Bureau was folded into the Social Security Administration in 1946, it began to assume more of its modern role.
|This section requires expansion with: more details about specific actions the Bureau took during each of these periods. (March 2011)|
The Children's Bureau was established by President William Howard Taft in 1912 during an era of heightened concern for general social welfare issues in the United States. It was the first national government office in the world which focused solely on the well-being of children and their mothers. The legislation creating the agency was signed into law on April 9, 1912.
At its founding, the bureau was part of the Department of Commerce and Labor; when the two departments' functions were separated in 1913, it became part of the Department of Labor.
The Children's Bureau played a major role in the passage and administration of the Sheppard–Towner Act, the first federal grants-in-aid act for state-level children's health programs.
In 1946, the Children's Bureau was folded into the Social Security Administration as part of the massive postwar reorganization of the federal government.
In its early years, the Children's Bureau published voluminously on many topics related to children's health and well-being, and it distributed its publications very widely. A full bibliography is impossible here, but an OpenLibrary search by author gives some sense of the range of topics.
See also 
- Child Abuse Reform and Enforcement Act - law aiming to "promote the improvement of information on, and protections against, child sexual abuse
- Children's Act for Responsible Employment (CARE Act) - a bill (proposed law) to bring parity of labor conditions to minor field workers that are afforded to minors in other occupations.
Further reading 
Gordon, Linda. Pitied But Not Entitled: Single Mothers and the History of Welfare, 1890–1935 (New York: Free Press, 1994). Details reform efforts of the period, including the Children's Bureau and its long-term impacts.
- Kriste Lindenmeyer, "A right to childhood": the U.S. Children's Bureau and child welfare, 1912-46 (University of Illinois Press, 1997), 30.
- Lindenmeyer, 1-2.
- Lindenmeyer, 90-91.
- Robyn Muncy, Creating a Female Dominion in American Reform, 1890-1935 (Oxford University Press, 1994), 151; http://findingaids.cul.columbia.edu/ead//nnc-rb/ldpd_4079053 .