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A Century of Leadership

1904 Moved by the plight of vulnerable children, Mrs. E.K. Foster, a Los Angeles community leader, forms a volunteer group which successfully advocates for legislation to protect children.

1920s Children's Bureau is a vital partner in starting the Community Chest – now the United Way. To ensure quality service for children, Children's Bureau begins to recruit and train foster parents and establishes its own training program for social workers. The agency becomes one of the first professional providers of foster care in the nation.

1930s Children's Bureau opens a shelter for homeless and abused children. The agency also plays a key role in establishing the USC School of Social Work.

1940s With World War II, Children's Bureau expands to meet changing social needs by initiating adoption services and finding homes for refugee children and war orphans.

1950s Children's Bureau begins to offer day care services as women enter the workforce to respond to emerging social conditions.
1960s Unadoptable children become the focus of Children's Bureau's pilot program to provide therapeutic foster care treatment and adoption services for children with special needs.

1970s Children's Bureau implements a program of therapeutic group-home care for abused children who cannot be helped through foster care.

1980s Children's Bureau launches an innovative prevention and family development program to address the problem of child abuse through in-home counseling and parent education classes. To support this program, the agency develops a nationally recognized evaluation tool to help counselors objectively assess family functioning and plan treatment. Children's Bureau's work in prevention and evaluating family functioning attracts the interest of professional researchers, and with funding provided by a major foundation, research on home-based prevention services is undertaken. Children's Bureau's successes in the critical battle to prevent child abuse result in an invitation to locate services in Orange County.
1990s Children's Bureau identifies parent education and community support systems as two vital strategies in the arsenal to prevent child abuse and initiates a focus such that 50% of its program efforts are with newborns to three-year-olds. The agency launches a dynamic parent education program called NuParent, establishes Family Resource Centers (FRCs) in five of its 13 community sites and is awarded a state grant to form the Family Resource Center Technical Training and Support Team which acts as a training model for other organizations wishing to open FRCs of their own.

In the treatment arena, the agency transitions from group-home care to the Family Visitation and Parent Learning Center which becomes an integral part of Los Angeles County's monitored visitation program for children in foster care and their birth parents. The agency also expands its mental health therapy and counseling services for children showing signs of difficulty in school or home life.
2001 The Board of Directors adopts a bold strategic plan. The plan calls for the creation of a family center and development of an innovative neighborhood strategy to help all children and youth be successful, especially the youngest ones. This effort will serve as national model. The four important and comprehensive outcomes are health, economic stability, nurturing parenting, and kindergarten readiness.


2002-2008 Board of Directors and Board of Trustees successfully raise $22 million for its capital 2008 campaign. These resources are used to purchase and renovate a three-acre site as the home of the new Magnolia Place Family Center. This new Center serves as a primary hub for the transformation of the neighborhood. In 2008 the new Center is dedicated to serve the community.


2008-Present The Magnolia Community Initiative is launched using the Magnolia Place Family Center as its primary hub. Forty non-profit, government, and faith-based community organizations come together to form a network to advance the comprehensive bold initiative. During these years, the network grows to 75 organizations and begins its ambitious work. The Board of Directors also votes to launch an advocacy initiative to promote investment in the early years and the Magnolia Community Initiative’s approach.