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Updated 11:50 AM October 25, 2007




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  Fauri Memorial Lecture
Government protection of children topic of talk

What if the federal government took the bold step of creating a Department of Children's Affairs? This unit could unite the various federal agency-level initiatives aimed at children's health and well-being, similar to what the Department of Homeland Security did for terrorism defense activities after 9/11.
(Photo courtesy Howard Markel)

"The critical question to ask is whether or not there exists the political, social and economic will necessary to persuade a plurality of the voters and their elected representatives to legislate a plan that would enable the United States to fully embrace the idea it developed nearly a century ago: a federal agency devoted to children," says Howard Markel, the George Edward Wantz Distinguished Professor of the History of Medicine.

Markel will discuss the United States' readiness and willingness to embrace an out-of-the-box approach to children's health and welfare in the form of a new cabinet level department during the Fedele F. and Iris M. Fauri Memorial Lecture 3 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24, at the School of Social Work.

The lecture — which is free and open to the public — is titled "A Historically Based Thought Experiment: Meeting New Challenges for Children's Health and Well-Being."

Markel is a professor of pediatrics and communicable diseases and director of the Center for the History of Medicine. In this historically based thought experiment, Markel looked to the early 20th century, when it briefly appeared that children would be the centerpiece of U.S. domestic policy, with the founding of the Children's Bureau in 1912.

The bureau concentrated its early work on the problem of infant mortality and studies of children with special needs, including the handicapped, homeless, orphans and delinquents.

Markel proposed support for a new children's affairs department could initially come from expanding federal revenue stream resulting from increased federal excise taxes on alcohol, tobacco, firearms and ammunition.

"But, ultimately," he notes, "it is every adult citizen's responsibility to devote a percentage of his or her tax dollars to children's health and welfare."

The Fauri Lecture is named in memory of Fedele Fauri, former vice president and the first dean of social work, and his wife, Iris. Fedele Fauri held various state and federal government positions in social welfare, including serving as the first director of the Michigan Department of Social Services.

The lecture is sponsored by the School of Social Work, Department of Pediatrics, U-M Hospitals & Health Centers, Medical School Department of History, and LSA.

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