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Advocacy Groups Launch 'Crusade' for Black Children

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Leaders of several youth-serving organizations have joined the Children's Defense Fund in a "targeted effort'' to combat the problems of poverty, violence, and poor health that face disproportionate numbers of black children.

The purpose of the Black Community Crusade for Children, which was announced last week, is to "mobilize the African-American community'' to take the lead in reversing social trends adversely affecting black children, C.D.F. officials said.

The campaign is being coordinated by a special staff within the C.D.F. in collaboration with the Urban Strategies Council in Oakland, Calif., the Rheedlen Centers for Children and Families in New York City, and the Charles Drew Child Development Corporation in South-Central Los Angeles.

A larger group of leaders from a wide range of groups, including such educators as the Yale University psychiatrist James P. Comer and the president of the College Board, Donald M. Stewart, is also helping to coordinate local, state, and national activities.

Efforts already under way, according to the C.D.F., include a campaign to educate the public on "crises'' affecting black children; leadership training for adults and students; and summer schools staffed by black college students that offer children's services.

The effort also involves a religious-action campaign to help members of the clergy launch programs responsive to children and the formation of a clearinghouse to gather data on programs "making a difference for black children.''

The leaders of the campaign, who unveiled their plans at a Washington press conference, also released a book highlighting the adverse effects on black children of trends in family status, health, education, employment, childbearing, sexual activity, violence, crime, and drugs.

It also offers recommendations for schools and other institutions.

Analysis of Health Data

In conjunction with its annual conference, which was also held in Washington last week, the C.D.F. also released a new analysis of data from the National Center for Health Statistics that concludes that the nation lost ground on key indicators of maternal and child health between 1980 and 1990 and is falling short of health goals set by the U.S. Surgeon General in 1978.

Copies of the analysis, "Decade of Indifference: Maternal and Child Health Trends 1980-1990,'' are available for $4 each from the C.D.F., 25 E St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001.

Copies of the book, Progress and Peril: Black Children in America, will be available in about a month for $13.95 each from the Black Community Crusade for Children at the same address, or by telephone at (202) 662-3643.

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