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Winter Storm Avery takes lives, puts the brakes on commutes across the Northeast. Also on our Friday rundown: A first-of-its-kind report calls for policies to ease transitions of young people living in foster care. And "got gratitude" this holiday season? It could benefit your health.

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Katrina Families and Kids Still Suffering a Year Later

December 18, 2006

New Orleans, LA - With Christmas approaching, South Dakota residents are reminded that thousands of Katrina children and families are still without the critical support they need. A delegation of prominent African-American women joined the Children's Defense Fund for a recent "Child Watch" visit to New Orleans, with the goal of bringing public focus back to health care, mental health care, housing and the schooling needs of families hit hard by the hurricane.

Malaak Compton-Rock, the wife of comedian Chris Rock, is pleading with South Dakota residents and the rest of the nation not give up on the children and families still dealing with the horrible side-effects of the disaster.

"Only half the schools are open. Only half the hospitals are open and the mental health services are depleted."

Amy Liu with the Brookings Institution, who has been studying the relief efforts, explains that a limited supply of housing makes it hard for people who want to come back. She says displaced families are extremely frustrated.

"In order to have families coming back, they need to have housing. But, at the same time, they want to have decent services. They can't come home if there are no good schools and no hospitals. They're also asking questions like: 'Is there going to be a basic quality of life? Will the basic services be provided?' And at this time, all the basic public services are operating at less than 50 percent."

Compton-Rock is hopeful that South Dakota residents won't forget Katrina's children. She says these are not just the children of Katrina or the children of one town, but rather all children and that the nation needs a forward-looking national disaster policy that includes health care and mental health care for every child.

Amy Liu's latest Katrina recovery report is online at www.brookings.edu. You can help by calling the Children's Defense Fund at 1-800-233-1200.

David Law, Public News Service - SD