News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
House Judiciary Committee Approves School Security Funds
The House Judiciary Committee last week overwhelmingly approved a bill to help schools pay for security measures.
The Secure Our Schools Act, sponsored by Rep. Steve Rothman, D-N.J., would provide $60 million per year in grants over three years for metal detectors, security cameras, security training, and other steps designed to make schools safer.
"Until this Congress can agree on common sense gun-control legislation, we have an obligation to, at the very least, make sure our children are safe in their schools," Mr. Rothman said in a statement.
The bill, which was approved by voice vote May 24, creates a new Department of Justice program to issue matching grants to states and localities.
—Erik W. Robelen
Gore Proposes More After-School Help
Vice President Al Gore last week announced further details of his campaign's education agenda, promising to ratchet up federal spending on after-school programs to help provide access for up to 10 million students.
"It's in those after-school hours that most juvenile crime, teen pregnancy, and alcohol and drug use occur," Mr. Gore, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, said in a May 25 statement. "We could be using those hours to lift up our children and give them the education and skills they need to succeed."
The 10-year, $11.3 billion initiative would build on the Clinton administration's push for after-school spending. Mr. Gore would double the $1 billion that President Clinton has requested for fiscal 2001, and also create a new tax credit to help middle- and low-income families defray after-school costs.
The proposal would expand the current child-care tax credit by making the benefit available for older children and making it more generous. It would cover up to 50 percent of after-school expenses, depending on a family's income level.
Mr. Gore's plan would also include money to recruit and train staff to assure high-quality programs.
—Erik W. Robelen
Bill To Improve Food Program Passes
In an effort to cut down on fraud and abuse in a 31-year-old federal program that provides nutritious snacks and meals to children in child-care facilities, the House and the Senate last week approved the Child and Adult Care Food Program Integrity Act.
The legislation requires the Department of Agriculture, which runs the food program, to create a plan for ongoing training of state officials, as well as for nonprofit organizations that act as sponsors for local family child-care providers.
The program allows child-care providers to be reimbursed for the food they give children, which can keep fees more affordable for parents. Centers can also participate if they serve low-income children.
The measure, introduced by Rep. Bill Goodling, R-Pa., also requires a minimum number of unannounced inspections to the child-care homes and allow the secretary of agriculture to withhold funds from states that don't provide proper oversight.
Last summer, the USDA's inspector general released an audit showing that the program was poorly managed. Some sponsors of the program were using the funds for their own personal use and claiming providers who did not exist.
Vol. 19, Issue 38, Page 24