Welfare Reform Will Push Kids To Unregulated Care, GAO Says

REQUIRING more low-income mothers to get jobs will throw thousands of children into a child-care system that is out of the reach of government health and safety regulators, congressional investigators say.

The General Accounting Office, the congressional watchdog agency, said welfare reform is expected to increase demand for family child care - care that is provided in the home of someone not related to the child, such as a neighbor or friend.

While family day-care centers offer flexible hours and accept infants and toddlers, most centers escape regulation by state or local authorities, and the quality is uneven, the GAO said in a draft report.

Plutonium revamp

THE Energy Department plans a complex and costly repackaging of tons of highly radioactive plutonium after an internal review found storage conditions that endanger workers and possibly the public.

The review, ordered last March, examined plutonium storage at 35 government sites in more than a dozen states. Investigators found plutonium in leaking and corroding packages, in cracking plastic bottles, in old decaying buildings and in pipes, ventilation vents, equipment and machinery.

``Overall, the inventory of plutonium presents significant hazards to workers, the public, and environment, and little progress has been made to aggressively address the problem,'' concluded the draft study.

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