Governor tells summit he'll fight for children He vows renewed effort to get "Thriving by Three" plan through legislature

September 25, 1997|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

Gov. Parris N. Glendening outlined his vision of a better future for Maryland children yesterday and pledged a tougher fight for his "Thriving by Three" program in the next legislative session.

In a 20-minute pep talk at a two-day summit on child well-being at Morgan State University, the governor said one of his goals was to make sure that the state's children were "well-educated and healthy -- physically, mentally and morally headed in the right direction."

Glendening's program, aimed at providing quality health care for children up to age 3, would offer prenatal care to mothers and assistance for children.

The program passed both houses of the Assembly last year, but died in conference.

The governor said he would "fight aggressively for a program to nTC provide for every woman full prenatal care and to provide health care for every child as well." He said he hoped to provide immunizations for the state's children, among whom 117 cases of whooping cough occurred last year.

Several organizers

The summit was organized by the governor's Office for Children, Youth and Families, the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus, the Urban League and Morgan State.

The event was formed to address the fact that the state ranked 30th in child well-being out of 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to the "Kids Count" fact book of the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation.

"This," the governor said, "in the third-wealthiest state in the country. I hope to address these issues and change those numbers. Poor children should have the same rights and future as the children in Montgomery, St. Mary's County or Talbot County."

Through such efforts as the summit, Glendening said, he hoped for a "comprehensive program to involve every family and every community so that every child meets their potential in the state of Maryland."

As Glendening began to speak shortly before 9 a.m., the audience at the university's Murphy Auditorium was sparse, which concerned the governor.

"Given the seriousness of this issue, this room ought to be packed. I want to not be able to get into this room," he said.

"One of the things is to figure out how to get more people in the community charged up to get involved," said Dr. Linda S. Thompson, special secretary in the Office of Children, Youth and Families. "We didn't have large numbers of people."

'Rub shoulders' with poor

Speaking at the summit luncheon, Dr. An'im Akbar, former president of the National Association of Black Psychologists, urged middle-class minorities to "rub shoulders" with the less fortunate.

"They have little access to the rewards [of middle-class values], so the values have little relevance to them," Akbar said of poor youths. "You wouldn't do it either, if you couldn't see the rewards in doing it."

Participants in the summit attended workshops on education, health care, crime and teen-age pregnancy.

Though much of the focus was on problems in Baltimore City and other state population centers, others offered their perspective.

During a panel on teen-age birth control, a health worker from Caroline County pointed out that where she works, offering contraceptives to teen-agers is not acceptable.

"We can barely do sex ed," the woman said.

Pub Date: 9/25/97

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