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Family-Support, Child-Development Grants Awarded

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Washington--A variety of local service agencies, including a school district, have been awarded funds to develop comprehensive child-development and family-support programs for low-income children from birth to school age, under a $17-million effort launched by the Health and Human Services Department.

The department's Administration for Children, Youth, and Families last month announced 22 grants, ranging from $400,000 to $1.3 million, for community agencies and institutions.

Those receiving funds include a Vermont school system and a city human-services department, as well as universities, child-care centers, social-service agencies and clinics, health centers, hospitals, and youth and family programs.

The grants were authorized under the Comprehensive Child-Development Program, which was passed by the Congress as part of last year's Hawkins-Stafford education-reauthorization law.

The program is designed to promote projects modeled after Chicago's Center for Successful Child Development, known more commonly as the "Beethoven Project."

The center, housed in the city's Robert Taylor Homes, offers a wide range of child-development, medical, and social services to pregnant women, parents, and young children in an effort to better prepare children for kindergarten. (See Education Week, Feb. 1, 1989.)

Grants for the demonstration projects, which draw on the Head Start program's philosophy of combining parental involvement and educational, health, and social services, will be administered by the Head Start Bureau.

"With this new program, we have the opportunity to impact low-income families both through early intervention in the lives of young children and through programs which will strengthen the family unit," Wade F. Horn, commissioner of the acyf, said in a statement.

Judith Jerald, project director for a $495,033 grant to the Brattleboro, Vt., school district, said the funds would help provide a wide range of services for about 60 families.

The program will include home visits by teams of nurses, social workers, and early-childhood educators; peer-support programs for8groups such as single and teenage parents; workshops on child development; and recreational activities.

The staff also will collaborate with other agencies to assess families' needs and match them with services.

The grant, which is the only one going to a school system, will build on a program for parents of preschoolers begun by the district in 1986.

Another grant will enable the Clayton Foundation of Denver and Mile-High Child Care, a private, nonprofit child-care provider, to link up with 17 community agencies to offer prenatal, wellness, child-care, mental-health, parent-education, and employment and training services to 120 low-income families.

A key goal, said Anna Jo Haynes, executive director of Mile-High Child Care, is to "change the way social services are delivered" to make them more accessible and coherent.

In addition, a grant of $1 million will go to help Albuquerque, N.M., offer health, nutritional, and social services at "multiservice centers" in three low-income neighborhoods.

Built into each project is an evaluation component calling for collection of data and comparisions of the outcomes of project participants with those of a control group.

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