Children’s Bureau marks 100 years

Apr 4, 2012

By Paul R. Pace, NEWS Staff

Imagine a time when children were considered the same as adults.

Their shoulders carried the burdens of grown-up responsibilities. Many toiled in America’s coal mines, factories and farms.

The thought of focusing attention on the well-being of the nation’s youngest citizens was a radical concept at the dawn of the 20th century.

It took the vision and determination of a group of pioneering women to bring to light a simple fact: Children have unique needs from their adult counterparts. If society was to better itself, a federal approach was necessary to help children thrive into adulthood.

From that idea the Children’s Bureau became a reality. This month marks the 100th anniversary of the federal agency whose roots are deep in social work.

“They are so my heroes and heroines,” said Mary McCarthy, a member of the NASW board of directors and a co-principal investigator for the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute, a service of the Children’s Bureau. “They were so
far ahead of their time.”

McCarthy, whose specialty has focused on promoting the child welfare workforce through recruitment and retention efforts, said the pioneers of the bureau had a goal to improve society — and they did so without personal gain.

“They were able to see far ahead of the social problems of the day to forever change the lives of women and children in this country,” she said. “They showed that if you give a woman an education and health opportunities, you can change a generation. It’s exponential what they did.”

From the April 2012 NASW News. NASW members click here to read the full story.