Children’s Bureau centennial honored in April

By Paul R. Pace, News Staff

April was a special month for children as the Children’s Bureau celebrated its 100th anniversary.

Social workers were instrumental in convincing lawmakers to create the federal agency in 1912 and social workers continue to play a vital role in the agency’s mission: to provide for the safety, permanency and well-being of children through leadership, support for necessary services, and productive partnerships with states, tribes and communities.

NASW produced a commemorative poster, shown above, to showcase the history between social work and the Children’s Bureau, as part of the bureau’s 100th anniversary celebration in April.

In honor of the anniversary of this collaboration, NASW hosted a reception on April 16 that was attended by child welfare leaders, advocates and Children’s Bureau grantees, and officials from the Children’s Bureau.

Elizabeth J. Clark, executive director of NASW, presented copies of a special-design commemorative poster that the association produced to showcase the important history between the Children’s Bureau and social work.

It features the four early leaders of the bureau who were social workers: Julia Lathrop, Grace Abbott, Katherine Lenroot and Katherine Oettinger. Also highlighted are Carol Wilson Spigner, who led the bureau from 1994 to 1999, and a photo of the Children’s Bureau’s 75th celebration at NASW’s national conference in 1987.

“The work of the Children’s Bureau has always been interdisciplinary and the influence and role of social work has been strong,” Clark told attendees.

Milestones of these collaborations include the early 1960s, when the social work research section of NASW was called upon to work with the Child Welfare League of America to develop a research agenda for child welfare.

“In the mid-1980s, NASW President Dorothy Harris launched a presidential initiative to promote professional social work practice in child welfare,” Clark said. “This resulted in the re-engagement among social work professional organizations, social work educators, child welfare agency administrations, national child welfare organizations and the Children’s Bureau.”

The commemorative posters were presented to George Sheldon, acting assistant secretary for the Administration for Children and Families; social worker Joe Bock, acting associate commissioner for the Children’s Bureau; social worker Catherine Nolan, director of the Office of Child Abuse and Neglect; and Harris and Spigner.

Copies of the poster are available through

From the June 2012 NASW News. NASW members click here for the full story.

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