May Is National Foster Care Month

History of National Foster Care Month

Throughout its 100 year history, the Children’s Bureau has worked to assist children and youth in foster care; engage youth in decisions that affect their lives; and support foster families, kinship caregivers, child welfare professionals, and others who help these children.

  • Before the creation of the Children’s Bureau in 1912, child welfare and foster care were mainly in the hands of private and religious organizations.
  • In 1919, the Children’s Bureau published Minimum Standards of Child Welfare, which affirmed the importance of keeping children in their own homes whenever possible and, when that was impossible, providing a “home life” with foster families.
  • In 1923, the Children’s Bureau published Foster-Home Care for Dependent Children, an acknowledgment of the growing preference for foster family care over institutional care.
  • During World War II, when more than 8,000 children were evacuated from Europe to the United States, the Children’s Bureau oversaw their temporary placement in U.S. foster homes.
  • The Children’s Bureau published a draft list of “The Rights of Foster Parents” in the May 1970 issue of its journal Children. That same year, the Children’s Bureau sponsored the National Conference of Foster Parents.
  • In 1972, the Children’s Bureau sponsored—and President Nixon proclaimed—National Action for Foster Children Week to raise awareness of the needs of children in foster care and recruit more foster parents. The following year, Children published “The Bill of Rights for Foster Children.”
  • In 1988, President Reagan issued the first presidential proclamation that established May as National Foster Care Month.

To learn more about the history of the Children’s Bureau, visit the Bureau’s centennial website. There, you can access an e-book, The Children’s Bureau Legacy: Ensuring the Right to Childhood, which tells the story of how the Bureau took on some of the most devastating social problems of the time during its first 100 years, including high infant mortality, child labor, and child abuse and neglect. In the website’s featured video, “The Children’s Bureau, 1912–2012: A Passionate Commitment. A Legacy of Leadership“, Children’s Bureau leaders and staff speak about their commitment to the Bureau’s work and how that commitment translates into better outcomes for children, families, and communities. The video is also available in Spanish.


Leave a Comment