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Children & Families

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One of every two American children does not live in a "traditional nuclear family" with only a married couple and their biological children, a new study shows.

The report, released by the U.S. Census Bureau last week, shows that about 16 million children live in so-called nontraditional families, most of them with single parents. Many also live in "blended families" with stepparents, or with grandparents, other relatives, or nonrelatives.

Of the 1.8 million children who live with neither parent, most live with grandparents.

The report attributes the trend toward single-parent families and extended-family households to increased numbers of out-of-wedlock births, high divorce rates, unemployment, poverty, and housing problems.

Black children, the study says, are the least likely to live in a traditional family.

Copies of "The Diverse Living Arrangements of Children: Summer 1991," Stock No. 803-044-00027-9, are available for $2.50 each from the Superintendent of Documents, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15250-7954.

Child-care groups are rallying in support of Jennifer Ireland, a Michigan woman who was ordered to give up custody of her 3-year-old daughter because she put the child in day care while attending college.

Ms. Ireland had gone to court to seek child support from the child's father, Steven Smith, whom she had never married. While attending the University of Michigan, Ms. Ireland, 19, placed her daughter, Maranda, in a licensed family day-care home for about 35 hours a week.

Judge Raymond Cashen of the Macomb County Circuit Court ruled in June that Maranda should live with Mr. Smith, even though he planned to go to school and work, because his mother had agreed to care for her full time.

The New York City-based Child Care Action Campaign and the Child Care Law Center in San Francisco are enlisting other groups to file a friend-of-the-court brief next month in Ms. Ireland's behalf.

A report from the Zero to Three/National Center for Clinical Infant Programs explores child-care policies in Denmark, England, Finland, France, Italy, and Sweden.

Copies of the report, "A Welcome for Every Child: Care, Education, and Family Support for Infants and Toddlers in Europe," are available for $10 each from Zero to Three; call (800) 899-4301.

--By Deborah L. Cohen

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