Twenty-five years ago, on April 15, 1991, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) was born. ACF was created to bring together a wide range of programs for children, families and communities, under a single division of the Department of Health and Human Services.
HHS Secretary Louis Sullivan explained at the time: “For the first time, the government will have a single agency bringing together the many child and family programs.” In doing so, a key goal was to encourage existing federal programs, now under the same roof, to find ways to work with each other to address the needs of the same populations being served.
Much has changed in the 25 years since ACF was established, but not our commitment to bring together the diverse programs under ACFâ€™s jurisdictions in our coordinated efforts to help children and their families.
Twenty-five years ago, theÂ Child Care and Development Block GrantÂ was one year old, and the Early Head Start ProgramÂ didnâ€™t exist. Congress hadnâ€™t yet enacted theÂ Temporary Assistant for Needy Families Block Grant.Â The major legislation strengthening the child support program in 1996 hadnâ€™t yet occurred, nor had the major child welfare legislation of the past 25 years. There was no Unaccompanied Children program at HHS.
Over the last quarter-century, ACF has incorporated new programs, ceased to operate some programs that Congress did not continue, and throughout, has maintained a commitment to research, learning, strengthening the effectiveness of the programs we operate, and to building shared goals across these programs.
We support American families, and our state, tribal and local partners with new systems and technologiesâ€”from the Office of Child Support Enforcementâ€™sÂ Federal Parent Locator Service, to the innovativeÂ National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline, and the Childrenâ€™s Bureauâ€™s multiple data reporting systems. We have provided innovative evidence-based technical assistance on everything from early childhood education, to job training, to services for victims of domestic violence. And we respond to basic human needs, whether due to extraordinary events like Hurricane Sandy or the repatriation following the catastrophic 2010 earthquake in Haiti, or more common needs for access toÂ affordable child careÂ andÂ support for seasonal heating and cooling expenses.
These accomplishments are only a small representation of ACFâ€™s considerable work for our nationâ€™s families. Weâ€™ve adopted a theme — Impacting People, Affecting Change, Empowering Families — which embodies ACFâ€™s agency, mission and the passion our employees bring to work with them every day. In the coming months, weâ€™ll highlight ACF programs and staff who have been with us throughout ACFâ€™s history to connect children and families with the services they need to thrive. Â
As we celebrate our 25th anniversary this spring, the Administration for Children and Families and its 1,800 employees and contractors are proud of our accomplishments, committed to our mission, and look forward to addressing tomorrowâ€™s challenges.