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December/January 2013Vol. 13, No. 11Centennial Series: CB's Clearinghouses and National Resource Centers

This is the eighth article in our second Centennial Series, CB Decade-by-Decade. These articles will examine highlights from each decade of the Children's Bureau's first 100 years. The first Centennial Series addressed some of the social issues, practices, and policies that laid the groundwork for the creation of the Children's Bureau.

The 1980s saw increased incidents of child abuse and neglect, and the number of children entering out-of-home care skyrocketed. As a result of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), the Children's Bureau was able to respond to these crises with discretionary grants for new programs and research on the prevention, identification, and treatment of child abuse and neglect. Also as a result of CAPTA, the Children's Bureau created a clearinghouse to disseminate information and, later, a group of National Resource Centers to provide the necessary training and technical assistance (T&TA) to States on specific child welfare focus areas.

CAPTA established the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN) within the Children's Bureau to administer grants to States and help States qualify for grant funds. Congress authorized $4.5 million to support NCCAN's first-year activities. In addition to discretionary grant responsibilities, the center also was required to create and maintain a national clearinghouse.

The National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information was formed in 1975. Among its many activities, it created and disseminated training materials to the child welfare field. The 1978 Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment and Adoption Reform Act established the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect that coordinated and advised NCCAN projects. One of NCCAN's most successful resources was the User Manual Series, which was launched in 1970. The series' many volumes were intended for an audience concerned with prevention across a wide range of professional fields, including education, nursing, mental health, law enforcement, child care, and more. Individual issues focused on child maltreatment, family violence, and sexual abuse and exploitation, while the entire series was focused on a multidisciplinary approach to prevention. The User Manual Series has been an enduring resource. Some issues were revised in the early 1990s, and the latest versions were released between 2003 and 2010.

The 1980s brought more change to the prevention field. In 1983, the first Child Abuse Prevention Month proclamation was issued. The Child Abuse Amendments of 1984 (P.L. 98-457) established the National Clearinghouse on Family Violence Prevention, and its activities were to be coordinated with the child abuse clearinghouse maintained by NCCAN. In 1986, the Omnibus Reconciliation Act (P.L. 99-509) authorized the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse. The adoption clearinghouse was responsible for collecting and disseminating information and data on infant adoption and the adoption of children with special needs. Additionally, the Children's Bureau funded a group of nine States to develop strategies for increasing adoption from foster care. Also in 1988, the Child Abuse Prevention, Adoption, and Family Services Act (P.L. 100-294) created the Inter-Agency Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect and allowed the director of NCCAN to contract out the operation of a child abuse information clearinghouse.

The Children's Bureau also funded its first topical National Resource Centers (NRCs) during this time. In 1986, the Bureau awarded grants to create six NRCs for Child Welfare Services. An article announcing the grants in the January-February 1986 issue of Children Today noted that funding for NRC services to States was expected to be paid in part by the States (Children's Bureau, 1986). Each of the six centers focused on a different child welfare service topic:

  • Family-based services
  • Foster and residential care
  • Legal resources on child welfare programs
  • Child welfare program management and administration
  • Youth services
  • Special needs adoption

Three additional NRCs were established later that same year, focusing on child welfare services for children with developmental disabilities, child abuse and neglect, and a child abuse clinical resource center.

The Abandoned Infants Assistance Act (P.L. 100-505), also enacted by Congress in 1988, authorized funding for programs to prevent infant abandonment. The act provided funding to address the needs of infants that had been abandoned (especially those with AIDS), find permanent families for these children, and recruit and retain social service professionals. The act's reauthorization in 1991 created the National Abandoned Infants Assistance (AIA) Resource Center, which still exists today and provides training, information, consultation, and resources to AIA service providers and other public and community-based agencies.

Today, the Children's Bureau sponsors 11 NRCs in its T&TA Network, which provides States, Tribes, courts, and other child welfare organizations with assistance in meeting Federal requirements, reaching desired outcomes, using monitoring systems, and more to promote safety, permanency, and well-being for children and families. The National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information and the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse consolidated in 2006 to form Child Welfare Information Gateway. Information Gateway connects adoption, child welfare and related professionals and the public to information and resources that help them address the needs of children and families in their communities. The clearinghouse collects, produces, and disseminates print and electronic publications, websites, and online databases covering a wide range of child welfare topics, including family preservation and support, child abuse prevention, foster care, domestic and intercountry adoption, search and reunion, and much more.


Children's Bureau. 1986. Children Today, 15(1).

Related Item

The third historical webinar in the Children's Bureau's centennial webinar series will take place on December 11, 2012. To register for "The Story of the Children's Bureau, Changing Times, Reshaping Priorities: 1961–1986," 12 p.m.–1:30 p.m., visit: