News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

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Clinton Announces $100 Million In Grants Against Youth Violence

President Clinton has announced the awarding of more than $100 million in grants to 54 communities nationwide for projects aimed at reducing youth violence.

"We need nothing less than a national campaign that draws on all our resources and demands all our commitment," Mr. Clinton said in discussing youth violence and the grant initiative during his Sept. 11 radio address.

The school-based community-partnership program known as the Safe Schools/Healthy School Initiative is part of a joint effort by the departments of Education, Justice, and Health and Human Services.

It aims to help communities work with school districts to design and implement comprehensive educational, mental-health, social-service, law-enforcement, and juvenile-justice services for young people.

Grantees plan to use the $106 million in funding in a variety of ways, including hiring school resource officers and expanding after-school and mentoring programs.

Two communities that were the scenes of fatal school shootings in 1998--Jonesboro, Ark., and Springfield, Ore.--received grants this year.

This year's grants, announced in Mr. Clinton's Sept. 11 radio address, will underwrite the first year of three-year projects.

--Adrienne D. Coles

Effort Targets Student-Loan Defaulters

The departments of Education and the Treasury have launched a $970,000 media campaign to encourage graduates who default on their college loans to pay up.

The campaign, announced this month, will pilot television and radio spots targeting graduates in Austin, Texas, and Baltimore, two cities that have some of the largest concentrations of students with federal loans.

Currently, 14 percent of government-backed student loans, worth some $24 billion, are in default across the nation, the Education Department reports.

"Paying back your student loan helps keep your credit rating in good standing," Milton G. Wright, the president and chief executive officer of the Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corp., said in a statement.

"The best way to avoid defaulting and to maintain good credit is to seek help as early as possible if you have difficulty maintaining your student-loan-repayment program," Mr. Wright said.

--Julie Blair

HHS Approves Last State CHIP Plans

All 50 states, and six U.S. territories, are now participating in the Children's Health Insurance Program--the federal initiative to provide health coverage for uninsured children.

Washington and Wyoming, the two final states to have their CHIP plans approved by the Department of Health and Human Services, came into the program this month.

Signed into law in 1997, the five-year, $24 billion program was designed to expand health insurance to children whose families earn too much for the traditional Medicaid program but don't make enough money to afford private health insurance.

Officials estimate that a year from now, states will be providing health insurance to 2.6 million more children. About 1.3 million children are now covered through the program.

Under CHIP, states were given three options: expand current Medicaid programs, design a new health-insurance program for children, or set up a combination of both.

--Linda Jacobson

Vol. 19, Issue 3, Page 21

Published in Print: September 22, 1999, as News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
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