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National PTA Exhorts Candidates To Address Range of Child Issues

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Washington--Joining other advocacy groups seeking to focus attention on children in this year's Presidential campaign, the National pta has called for a "children's summit" to address issues ranging from child care to child abuse.

The group proposes the idea in a "Memorandum to the 41st President of the United States" presented at its legislative conference here last week.

Citing a host of demographic and social trends that are adversely affecting children, the memorandum says that an interagency summit drawing both state and federal officials will be needed to forge a "coordinated, comprehensive, and workable national youth and family policy."

The memorandum, to be distributed to all Presidential candidates, envisions such a summit as including not only government officials, but also parents, educators, social-service providers, children's groups, researchers, law-enforcement officials, business leaders, and pediatricians.

The summit should address such issues as excellence and equity in education, child care, health care, child-abuse prevention, and removal of hazardous substances from schools, according to the parent-teacher organization. The plan's specific recommendations include:

Requiring that parents be involved in the design, development, and evaluation of all federal education programs;

Adopting a "peacetime Marshall plan" for the education of at-risk children, featuring smaller classes and more individualized instruction;

Enlisting cooperation between the federal government and states in a plan to equalize education funding across states;

Establishing a comprehensive child-care system with adequate safety, certification, training, and accreditation provisions;

Encouraging public schools to provide more child-care and early-childhood services and coordinating such efforts with social-service agencies and other child-care providers;

Devising a "minimum health-care financing mechanism" to guarantee adequate insurance coverage for children and families, and mandating Medicaid eligibility for families with incomes below the federal poverty level;

Providing federal assistance to help states establish health curricula, clinics, and education programs on alcohol and substance abuse, teen-age pregnancy, suicide, and aids;

Developing and enforcing safe standards for indoor air quality in schools and helping schools inspect for and eliminate such hazards as asbestos, radon, and lead in drinking water;

Committing more federal resources to combat child abuse and ensure that adequate shelters, health services, and education are provided for homeless families and children.

--dg

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