The following timeline chronicles significant moments in child abuse prevention in the United States. Hover over each milestone to learn more.

  • Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA)

    The first Federal child protection legislation, CAPTA was signed by President Nixon on January 31, 1974 and marked the beginning of a new national response to the problem of child abuse and neglect. The legislation provided Federal assistance to States for prevention, identification, and treatment programs. It also created the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (now known as the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect) within the Children's Bureau to serve as a Federal focal point for CAPTA activities. Today CAPTA, most recently reauthorized in 2010, continues to provide minimum standards for child maltreatment definitions and support States' prevention and intervention efforts.

  • Federal Standards for Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention and Treatment Programs and Projects

    The first report of the Federal Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect was published in March 1978. The report synthesized and described the best knowledge available on the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect. One of the core premises of the standards was that preventive efforts must be stressed and receive attention at least equal to that directed toward the assessment and treatment of suspected or actual incidents of child abuse and neglect.

  • First National Child Abuse Prevention Week

    In 1982, Congress resolved that June 6-12 should be designated as the first National Child Abuse Prevention Week.

  • April proclaimed the first National Child Abuse Prevention Month

    In 1983, President Reagan proclaimed April to be the first National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a tradition that continues to this day. The Bureau's National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect coordinated activities at the Federal level, including creation and dissemination of information and promotional materials. In 1984 for example, posters, bumper stickers, and buttons displayed the theme, "Kids—You can't beat 'em." Print, radio, and television PSAs, meanwhile, urged viewers to "Take time out. Don't take it out on your kid."

  • Child Abuse Prevention Federal Challenge Grants Act

    The Children's Bureau was an early supporter of State Children's Trust Funds. Kansas was the first State to pass such legislation in the spring of 1980, requiring revenues from surcharges placed on marriage licenses to be used to support child abuse prevention. By 1984, the number of States with Trust Funds was up to 15. That year, Congress passed the Child Abuse Prevention Federal Challenge Grants Act (title IV of P.L. 98–473) to encourage more States to follow suit. By 1989, all but three States had passed Children's Trust Fund legislation.

  • Blue Ribbon Campaign to Prevent Child Abuse

    The blue ribbon campaign is a memorial to children who have been affected by abuse and neglect.

  • Comprehensive Prevention Projects Funded

    The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect awarded nine grants to develop and implement community-based prevention strategies, develop a coordinated multidisciplinary training program for professionals and community leaders, implement a public awareness campaign, and implement crisis intervention programs.

  • "We Can Make a Difference: Strategies for Combating Child Maltreatment" Conference

    In the summer of 1990, Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis W. Sullivan, MD, created an unprecedented national initiative to raise awareness about child abuse and neglect and promote coordination of prevention and treatment activities. A December 1991 meeting, "We Can Make a Difference: Strategies for Combating Child Maltreatment," encouraged participants to develop action plans that could be implemented locally. Public service announcements asking the public to "Show You Care" were released during Child Abuse Prevention Month (April) 1992.

  • The Children's Bureau named the lead agency for the Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) grants

    In keeping with the Clinton Administration's emphasis on collaboration and integration among child- and family-serving systems, a new grants program, Community-Based Family Resource and Support (CBFRS), was created in 1996. These grants reflected the belief that public and private child abuse prevention and treatment programs must work together toward common goals. The CBFRS program (now known as Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention or CBCAP) requires State lead agencies to establish statewide networks for family support programs, support a coordinated continuum of preventive services, and maximize funding for those services.

  • The Office on Child Abuse and Neglect (OCAN) and Federal Interagency Work Group on Child Abuse and Neglect are established

    The 1996 reauthorization of CAPTA abolished the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect and created an Office on Child Abuse and Neglect (OCAN) within the Children's Bureau to coordinate the functions required under CAPTA. At the same time, a Federal Inter-Agency Work Group on Child Abuse and Neglect (FEDIAWG) was established to replace the Inter-Agency Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect that had been active since 1988. Today, FEDIAWG includes representatives of more than 40 Federal agencies and meets quarterly with OCAN's leadership and coordination.

  • 13th National Conference, "Faces of Change: Embracing Diverse Cultures and Alternative Approaches"

    The 13th National Conference recognized the fact that our diversity enables us to bring a multitude of approaches to bear on key issues in the field of child abuse and neglect.

  • Child Abuse Prevention Initiative and the 14th National Conference, "Gateways to Prevention"

    The 14th National Conference recognized that prevention remains the best defense for our children. To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the first Presidential Proclamation for Child Abuse Prevention Month, OCAN launched the National Child Abuse Prevention Initiative as a yearlong effort. OCAN and its National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information partnered with Prevent Child Abuse America and the child abuse prevention community to produce a variety of tools and resources to support national, State, and local public awareness activities. The same year, OCAN released its Emerging Practices in the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect report, the product of a 2-year effort to generate new information about effective and innovative prevention programs.

  • Year of the Healthy Child

    There was renewed commitment to make child abuse prevention a national priority. As a result, OCAN focused on making safe children and healthy families a shared responsibility, a theme that was also incorporated into the National Conference.

  • OCAN developed the Resource Guide and held the 16th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect, "Protecting Children, Promoting Healthy Families, and Preserving Communities"

    This encouraged communities to join the effort to promote healthy families and work collaboratively to provide responsive child abuse prevention and family support services. At the same time, OCAN invited 26 national organizations to be national child abuse prevention partners so the message could reach a wider audience.

  • Three grantees funded for nurse home visitation services

    The Children's Bureau funded three grantees to evaluate and implement nurse home visitation services.

  • The Children's Bureau launched 17 cooperative agreements to increase knowledge about evidence-based home visiting programs

    The Children's Bureau launched cooperative agreements to generate knowledge about the use of evidence-based home visiting programs to prevent child abuse and neglect, including obstacles and opportunities for their wider implementation.

  • 17th National Conference, "Focusing on the Future: Strengthening Families and Communities"

    The 17th National Conference theme, "Focusing on the Future: Strengthening Families and Communities" reflected the resolve to continue to protect children by addressing the root causes of child maltreatment.

  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010

    This act included a provision to create the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program.

  • Network for Action prevention initiative kicks off

    Network for Action kicked off with a meeting in Alexandria, VA, in June 2011. Jointly sponsored by OCAN, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the FRIENDS National Resource Center, and other national prevention organizations, the Network for Action is driven by three specific goals: to create a shared vision for the future of child abuse prevention, engage in shared action, and develop and strengthen prevention networks at the State and Federal levels. A second national meeting was held in April 2012.

  • 18th National Conference, "Celebrating the Past - Imagining the Future"

    The 18th National Conference was held in conjunction with the Children's Bureau's centennial celebration year and highlighted our desire to embrace our past successes, to learn from our challenges, and to realize our dream of eliminating child abuse and neglect. A second national Network for Action meeting was held in April 2012.

  • Third Network for Action Meeting

    Third Network for Action Meeting was held in April 2013 and included a focus on connections across the continuum of services from prevention, intervention and treatment.

  • 19th National Conference, "Making Meaningful Connections"

    The 19th National Conference marks the 40th anniversary of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA, P.L. 93-247). The Network for Action Leadership Institute was held in conjunction with the National Conference.

  • 20th National Conference, “Building Community, Building Hope”

    The theme for the 2016 conference was, "Building Community, Building Hope” which acknowledged the tremendous power in communities to address the problem of child abuse and neglect and reflected our goal of providing a multidisciplinary forum focused on intersections of research, policy, and practice related to promoting child and family well-being and protecting children, to ensure that they grow up to achieve their full potential, free from abuse and neglect.

  • Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA)

    FFPSA allows for Federal reimbursement for mental health services, substance use treatment, and in-home parenting skill training, and incentives for States to reduce congregate care placement. The goals are to prevent children from entering foster care and provide better care for children already in care.

  • 21st National Conference, “Strong and Thriving Families”

    The conference theme, "Strong and Thriving Families," recognizes that supporting families is important to ensuring the safely, permanency, and well-being of our nation's children.

(Back to Top)