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The Kempe Center Marks 50 Years of Protecting the World’s Children

Dr. Kempe sitting with children

Founder C. Henry Kempe’s legacy includes cultural reform, groundbreaking child-protective laws and the Kempe Foundation

Over the past 50 years, The Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect has changed the culture of children’s rights worldwide. Established in 1972, The Kempe Center became the first of its kind, providing research, training, education and innovative program development for all forms of child abuse, neglect and trauma.

German-born C. Henry Kempe, MD, fled to the United States during the rise of the Nazi Party in the 1930s. In his new home, he learned to speak English and excelled in school, eventually earning a medical degree, and becoming the youngest chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. As a young physician, Kempe became the first in the U.S. medical community to identify and recognize child abuse.

Through Kempe’s efforts, child abuse reporting laws now exist in all 50 U.S. states. Kempe’s work led to the passage of the 1972 Colorado law requiring legal counsel for the child in all cases of suspected abuse. In 1976, The Kempe Foundation was established to lead fundraising, awareness, and advocacy efforts for children.

Now at the CU School of Medicine, The Kempe Center’s mission remains unchanged: help children heal, grow and learn, and support their families while offering hope for a brighter future.

"My father was like a steam engine at work – pushing ahead all the time and allowing no obstacle to stand in his way."