Letter to the Editor (May 2012)

Children’s Bureau Legacy

There will be many articles written during 2012 about the 100th anniversary of the United States Children’s Bureau, such as the fine article Paul R. Pace wrote in the April, 2012, issue of the NASW News. What concerns me, and the reason why I am writing this letter to the NASW News Editor, is that these articles will discuss in large part the Bureau’s programs related to child labor, child abuse, and infant mortality.

What will probably not be discussed is the contribution the Bureau has made to the field of juvenile delinquency.

The Bureau was the first Federal Government agency to give attention to the needs of state and local governments relative to their juvenile delinquency problems. The Bureau established the Division of Juvenile Delinquency in the late 1940s, and over the years the staff developed standard setting documents and provided consultation and training in the areas of police, juvenile courts, detention, probation and parole, and delinquency institutions. In large part, the staff was made up of trained social workers.

At the time of the reorganization of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare in the late 1960s the Division of Delinquency was eliminated and Division staff were moved to the Bureau’s regional offices. Less attention was then given to the areas of juvenile delinquency.

It was not until the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, Department of Justice, was established in the early 1970’s that the Federal Government again established a program dealing with the problems of juvenile delinquency.

Kenneth S. Carpenter,
NASW Pioneers®
Washington, D.C.