Children and Families Column
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded grants to help 28 historically black colleges and universities assume leadership in revitalizing neighborhoods and improving services for poor families.
Besides funding projects to help renovate housing and spur business development, the grants, ranging from $250,000 to $500,000 each and totaling $13 million, will help the institutions address such community problems as crime, drug abuse, and gangs. Some of the grant money will be used to provide education and training to residents and set up child-care facilities, recreational programs, and family-resource centers.
U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno stressed the need for community partnerships at a recent conference in suburban Washington that drew child advocates and university faculty members from across the nation. She urged participants to join forces in expanding programs that can head off later school and social problems. She cited as examples Head Start and home-visitation programs, community policing, and school-based conflict-resolution programs.
The conference was sponsored by Florida International University and Miami University of Ohio with funding from the Children's Bureau of the Health and Human Services Department. A number of higher-education, health, and child-welfare groups also collaborated.
The conferees passed a resolution asking the United Nations to declare a "decade of families" in 2000 and another urging Congress and federal agencies to involve universities in efforts to overhaul child and family services.
More information is available from Katharine Hooper-Briar at Miami University at (513) 529-6849, or from Norma Harris at the Council of Social Work Education at (703) 683-8080.
A report from the Center on Families, Communities, Schools, and Children's Learning calls family centers in schools a good way to get parents involved.
The report, "Parent Centers in Urban Schools: Four Case Studies," examines two schools in Boston and two in San Diego that have centers for parents to meet, learn about community services, assist in classrooms, or take classes themselves.
Copies cost $4.80 each, with an accompanying video for $19.95, from the center on families, 605 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, Mass. 02215.
--Deborah L. Cohen