In 1913, the Children's Bureau was one of four original offices at the newly-created Department of Labor. A staff of 15 people compiled and studied child labor regulations, making recommendations that established the first federal child labor law in 1917 – which was ruled unconstitutional nine months later. The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 eventually established child labor provisions originally recommended by the bureau – now upheld by the courts – as the bureau itself had since moved to the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (which later split into the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services).
To combat child labor abroad among other activities, President Truman created the Bureau of International Labor Affairs, or ILAB, in 1947. The department's international efforts expanded even more when then-Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman established ILAB's Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor and Human Trafficking in 1997.