NASW produced a commemorative poster, shown right, to showcase the history between social work and the Children’s Bureau, as part of the bureau’s 100th anniversary celebration in April.
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.
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.
The Bureau hosted a Centennial Commemoration on April 9 and included in its program a quote from Lathrop from 1913: “The final purpose of the Bureau is to serve all children, to try to work out the standards of care and protection which shall give to every child his fair chance in the world.”
Harris, who has been involved in planning and/or implementing the National Conferences on Child Abuse and Neglect since the 1980s, said the April 9 event in the Great Hall of the Hubert Humphrey Building offered a blend of the past, present and future of the Children’s Bureau, which included expert presentations, musical interlude, historical archival materials and videos.
The NASW event coincided with the bureau’s 18th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect April 16-20 in the nation’s capital, where the theme was “Celebrating the Past — Imagining the Future.”
The bureau also produced a centennial commemorative website. It features a comprehensive review of the people who spearheaded the agency and assisted in its outreach over the decades.
NASW was a co-sponsor of the bureau’s 18th Annual Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect, and national staff participated in exchanging information vital to child welfare.
“They Just Don’t Get It… Navigating Multiple Generations in the Workplace,” was a workshop presented by NASW’s Roxana Torrico Meruvia, senior practice associate; and Tracy Whitaker, director of the NASW Center for Workforce Studies & Social Work Practice.
Their presentation examined the changing workplace as four generations — Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y — work side by side. Participants gained insight into the benefits and challenges of multi-generations working together and approaches to overcome potential conflicts.
“The workshop was well-received,” Torrico Meruvia said. “Attendees were very interested in the topic, especially as it related to emerging technologies in the workplace and how this can affect staff from different generations.”
“We also hosted a mini-evaluation of attendees about their own workplace generations,” she said. “The results stimulated a lot of good conversations.”
Joan Levy Zlotnik, director of the NASW Foundation’s Social Work Policy Institute, and Torrico Meruvia were among a group of panelists for the pre-conference think tank, “Supervision: The Safety Net for Frontline Child Welfare Practice.” It built on the institute’s 2010 symposium and provided an overview of the evidence base that supports supervisors in child welfare.
Participants discussed implementation of a targeted action agenda that would engage national organizations, schools of social work, public and private child welfare agencies, and training and technical assistance providers.