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New House Panel To Focus on Youth, Families

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Washington--The House of Representatives last week voted to create a new Congressional committee to oversee federal programs that affect children and young people.

In approving a proposal by Representative George Miller, Democrat of California, and 200 co-sponsors, the House established a 30-member House Select Committee on Children, Youth, and Families. No comparable proposal has been introduced in the Senate.

The committee, whose members will be chosen by the Speaker of the House in January, will operate for four years, "making an assessment of what's happening to children in this nation, given the economic problems and the changes made in federal programs during the past two years," said Ann Rosewater, an aide to Representative Miller.

"Jurisdiction over issues relating to children, youth, and families is shared by at least 13 of the 22 House standing committees and numerous subcommittees," said the report of the House Rules Committee, which approved the bill for last Wednesday's vote on the House floor.

'Substantial Effect'

"The decisions of the federal government involving education, recreation, employment, health and nutrition, law enforcement, or economic policy have a substantial effect upon the well-being of American children and their families. ... Yet there is no single agency or Congressional committee which focuses on the diverse and complex issues affecting this vulnerable group of our society," the report said.

The new committee will not have the power to pass legislation, however. Its duties, as determined by the Rules Committee, will include:

Conducting a study of the problems of children, youth, and families, including "income maintenance, health, nutrition, education, welfare, employment, and recreation";

Determining "means and methods of encouraging the development of public and private programs and policies" to assist children and young people in becoming "productive citizens"; and

Encouraging the "coordination of both governmental and private programs" that would help alleviate the "problems of childhood and adolescence."

A total of 144 organizations, including education groups such as the National pta as well as groups such as the American Bar Association and the United States Conference of Mayors, supported the creation of the committee.

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