News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

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Clinton Announces Efforts To Boost CHIP Enrollment

President Clinton highlighted a series of initiatives last week aimed at raising participation in the federal Children's Health Insurance Program.

Addressing the annual American Academy of Pediatrics meeting in Washington on Oct. 12, Mr. Clinton asked for more school involvement in identifying students who are eligible for health benefits supplied by the program. CHIP provides health insurance to children from birth to age 18 whose families have low incomes but are ineligible for Medicaid.

The president noted the involvement of 1,500 schools in 49 states in the Insure Kids Now Campaign, in which school superintendents and principals included information about CHIP in their back-to-school activities.

Mr. Clinton also unveiled other initiatives, including requiring the secretaries of health and human services, education, and agriculture to devise steps within six months for implementing a school-based outreach effort for enrolling students in CHIP.

--Candice Furlan

GAO Examines K-12 Spending

In fiscal 1996, the Department of Education distributed more than 99 percent of the funding for 10 schools programs to the states, which in turn delivered about 94 percent of the money to school districts, according to the General Accounting Office.

The Sept. 30 report from the GAO--Congress' nonpartisan investigative arm--examined the use of federal dollars in fiscal 1996 under 10 major programs, including Title I aid for disadvantaged students, special education, vocational education, drug-abuse and violence prevention, and school-to-work.

"At both the federal and state levels, the funds that were not distributed supported such activities as research and evaluation related to the programs and information dissemination about them," the report says.

House Republicans requested the report. Some GOP lawmakers have complained that too much federal education money is spent on administration.

--Erik W. Robelen

Schools Request Census Kits

More than 300,000 Census in Schools kits have been requested by teachers nationwide, the Census Bureau reports.

The Census in Schools kit was produced to help increase participation in the 2000 U.S. Census. The kits include a letter for students to take home explaining the importance of an accurate count in the decennial process.

"The effort to motivate parents is critical to increasing the overall response rate," bureau Director Kenneth Prewitt said at an Oct. 5 press conference. "We want to emphasize responsibility in returning Census forms."

Forty percent of the schools in the hardest-to-count areas--those identified as undercounted in the 1990 Census--have received invitations from the bureau to request Census in Schools kits. Schools in the remaining 60 percent are expected to get their invitations within the next month. Each kit contains a teaching guide with lesson plans that address map literacy, community involvement, and information management. Kits are available for grades K-4, 5-8, and 9-12.

--Adrienne D. Coles

Justice Opens Youth-Court Center

The Department of Justice--through its office of juvenile justice and delinquency prevention--has created a National Youth Court Center designed to serve as a clearinghouse for youth-court programs nationwide.

The $1 million center, which was set up with help from the departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Transportation, opened this month.

Justice Department officials said in a news release that the center will provide training and technical assistance on youth-court programs. Under such programs, juvenile cases are presented before the youths' peers, who act as judges, counsel, and juries and may hand down sentences of community service, counseling, or restitution. Some 650 youth-court programs operate in 49 states.

The American Probation and Parole Association in Lexington, Ky., will house the center's headquarters and offer assistance to state and local officials interested in starting their own programs. The American Bar Association will produce manuals for students and volunteers, and the law fraternity Phi Alpha Delta plans to launch a campaign for encouraging the legal community's involvement in the effort.

--Adrienne D. Coles

Anti-Drug Grants Announced

The Department of Education has announced nearly $35 million in grants to allow districts to recruit, hire, and train middle school drug-abuse-prevention and safety coordinators.

The three-year grants were awarded to 97 school districts in 34 states last month. The grantees were either districts or consortia of smaller districts with significant drug, discipline, and violence problems in middle schools.

Grantees may use coordinators for a variety of purposes, including identifying and assisting them in adopting successful, research-based drug-abuse- and violence-prevention programs.

Relatedly, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy recently announced funding for its efforts to prevent substance abuse by young people through the Drug-Free Communities Support Program. Starting this month, more than $11.8 million will go to 124 new drug-free-communities sites, and $8.7 million will go to support 91 sites in their second year of operation.

--Adrienne D. Coles

Vol. 19, Issue 8, Page 22

Published in Print: October 20, 1999, as News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
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