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Clinton: Moms Need More Support

Child care improvements and guaranteed child support payments are the best Mother's Day gifts that government can give American moms, President Clinton said Saturday.

"There is no substitute for a mother's love or a parent's responsibility. We, too, in the national and state governments, however, have a responsibility," Mr. Clinton said in a radio address dedicated to Sunday's celebration of motherhood.

He lashed out at one bankruptcy reform provision pending before Congress that he said would make mothers seeking child support compete with banks and credit card companies when fathers file for bankruptcy.

"That's not the law now, and if that competition starts, we all know who will lose the contest: the children," the president said. "They shouldn't have to stand in line for the support they need."

His administration released two sets of guidelines: a step-by-step consumer guide from the Department of Health and Human Services for parents shopping for child care, and Justice Department advice on screening care givers hired to work with children, the elderly and the disabled.

The guidelines recommended, among other things, criminal checks through the FBI's fingerprint records. Mr. Clinton has asked Congress to pass legislation eliminating state barriers to checking criminal backgrounds of child care workers. That plan must be approved by Congress and all 50 states.

"Nothing gives mothers peace of mind like the knowledge their children are in safe hands," the president said. "I'm hopeful that members of both parties will move quickly to give America's children the care they deserve."

Mr. Clinton also used the radio broadcast to promote his $21.7-billion package to subsidize child care for working families. The legislation is languishing in Congress, where Republicans have their own ideas about making child care better, more accessible and more affordable.