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Foundation Urges 'Comprehensive' Social Policy

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The federal government should spend an additional $29 billion a year to expand services for poor children, families, and the elderly, a new report by the Ford Foundation concludes.

Arguing that solving entrenched problems requires a comprehensive approach, the report urges policymakers to "stop pitting one group against another in the struggle to improve social policy."

Noting that roughly one in five American children lives in poverty, the Ford report recommends an increase of $6.2 billion in annual spending on such programs as Head Start, Medicaid, Chapter 1, and the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children.

The report says that social programs should be expanded to ensure that:

All pregnant women have access to prenatal care.

The wic program becomes an entitlement, with guaranteed funding sufficient to provide aid to all eligible applicants.

Slots in the Head Start program are available to the 80 percent of eligible 3- and 4-year-old children who are currently not enrolled.

Lower-income families receive child-care subsidies.

The report also recommends spending an additional $12 billion to help the unemployed; $2.5 billion to improve support for the low-income elderly; $7 billion for long-term-care programs; and $1 billion to provide drug- and alcohol-abuse treatment to all who need it.

The study, released this month after three years of preparation, also calls on state, local, and business leaders to play a greater role in providing preg8nancy-prevention and job-training programs for adolescents.

To pay for the expanded programs, the report suggests the establishment of a new federal trust fund financed in part by taxing Social Security benefits that exceeded recipients' lifetime contributions.

Andrea Taylor, a Ford spokesman, said that as a follow-up to the report, the foundation plans to increase its funding for early-childhood-education programs from $5.5 million to $7.5 million over the next two years.

The foundation also will grant more money to academic programs for disadvantaged youths and increase funding for community-development projects, she added.

Copies of "The Common Good" are available without charge from the Ford Foundation, Office of Communications, 320 East 43rd St., New York, N.Y. 10017.--ef

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