No Vaccinations, No Back to School
As families prepare for summer's end and back to school, many youth need sports physicals and/or immunizations. "For many children this is a matter of going to the family doctor. But in the future, poor children may not have access to a doctor because Congress is considering a budget which requires cuts in the two programs that affect children's health care," notes Patricia King, adviser to the U.S. Bishops on health care issues. "It would cut the Medicaid program and the State Children's Health Insurance Program [SCHIP], hitting low-income families hard. In a time of budget surplus, cutting programs for vulnerable children, working poor families, disabled individuals and others is not acceptable. Both Medicaid and SCHIP provide essential health coverage to children and families and enable them to become healthy, productive members of society. Congress must adopt a responsible budget which does not jeopardize vital programs and push poor children, the elderly, disabled, and low-income workers further into poverty."
Patricia King can be reached at 202-541-3188.
School Supplies: Backpack, Shoes, Bulletproof Vest
"Back to school anxiety has risen to a new level thanks to the availability of handguns," notes Daniel Misleh, an adviser to the U.S. Bishops on nonviolence issues. "This fall, children may worry less about dying from embarrassment for wearing the wrong clothes and more about dying literally in schoolyard violence. However, some hopeful signs stand on the horizon. Last year's incidents of deadly violence in schools nationwide have begun to turn public opinion and more Americans, including gun owners themselves, are beginning to see the need for efforts to keep deadly weapons out of young hands. For example, efforts to require safety locks on all handguns and to increase penalties for gun owners whose children suffer deadly consequences of an unlocked and loaded weapon are gaining momentum. Parents are waking up to the fact that people who keep a gun in the home are 43 times more likely to kill themselves or someone they know than an intruder. One in four of our children have access to a gun. Such statistics may begin to turn the tide. The violence that was witnessed this past year not only leaves physical and emotional scars, but it also breeds hopelessness and despair among our children."
Daniel Misleh can be reached at 202-541-3190.
Women, Minorities Back to School for Lay Ministry
Women and minorities stand among the thousands of people getting ready to go back to school to prepare for lay ministry in the Church. "In 1997-98 there were over 23,000 students enrolled, both full and part time, in diocesan and graduate programs for ministry," notes Mercy Sister Amy Hoey, Coordinator of the U.S. Bishops' Study on Ecclesial Lay Ministry. "Women comprise 61 percent of the students. Data compiled by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University reflect an increase in all the minority groups in the developing profession. For example, the percentage of Hispanic/Latino students rose from 24 percent in 1996-97 to 32 percent in 1997-98. Fewer than one-third of the students in lay ministry programs are under 40 years of age. Those between 40 and 60 constitute 53% of the total."
Sister Amy Hoey can be reached at 202-541-3001.