THE DISTRICT

Mayor's Plan to Foster Adoption

Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) announced a new foster care and adoption initiative yesterday to encourage the community to adopt the 3,334 District children in foster care and reduce the amount of time children spend in foster care before being placed in permanent homes.

Through the Bring Our Children Home program, Williams said, his administration will work to improve the turnaround time for certifying foster and adoptive homes and take steps to hire more social workers. He also said the office of the corporation counsel will bring on additional lawyers to more quickly process the legal work required for adoption.

The Child and Family Services agency, which is responsible for the city's abused and neglected children, is in court-ordered receivership. D.C. children put in foster care stay an average of more than three years, which is double the national average.

Black Firefighters Plan Protest

Members of an African American firefighters association are planning to protest the appointment of Thomas Tippett to be interim fire chief today in front of city offices at 441 Fourth St. NW.

Robert Wright, vice president of the Progressive Firefighters Association, said Tippett, a 31-year member of the fire department and former union president, has opposed affirmative action and has lobbied against a residency requirement that would give jobs to more District residents. The association has about 200 members.

Tippett said he disagrees with the group's statements and wants to focus on safety issues in the department rather than racial issues.

MARYLAND

Sweeter Deal for Potential Teachers

State education officials will seek funding for a $5 million pilot program that would grant full-tuition scholarships to aspiring teachers in exchange for a promise to teach in Maryland public schools for several years.

The Maryland State Board of Education approved the program in theory yesterday as one of several possible tactics for dealing with a worsening teacher shortage.

Board members said they fear that a new $3,000-a-year scholarship, which commits college students to one year of teaching for each year they receive the grant, is not attracting enough people, and that the terms should be made more generous.

'Fuzzy Math' Grant Application Denied

The National Science Foundation has rejected Montgomery County's application for a $6 million grant to train teachers in a math program that some opposing parents dubbed "fuzzy math," Superintendent Jerry D. Weast announced yesterday.

John Hoven, president of the Gifted and Talented Association, said the highly rated "Connected Math" curriculum was remedial. For months, his group blanketed newspapers with angry letters and churned out thousands of e-mail messages. "We finally won something," an elated Hoven said.

Weast has put $50,000 in his budget proposal for a pilot program of the rigorous Singapore math curriculum that Hoven has been pushing.

Hospital Gets Surprise Inspection

Surveyors from a national agency that has moved to revoke the hospital accreditation of Shady Grove Adventist Hospital made an unannounced inspection yesterday at Shady Grove's Takoma Park sister hospital.

There was no incident that triggered the one-day visit to Washington Adventist Hospital by two surveyors from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations.

"We just went in because it's the same management group that manages Shady Grove," said spokeswoman Cathy Barry-Ipema.

The visit came days before Shady Grove officials go to Chicago to appeal their loss of top-ranked accreditation last month over patient care and management problems at the Rockville hospital.

VIRGINIA

Getting Ready for Electric Deregulation

Virginia utility regulators proposed a $30 million campaign yesterday to educate consumers about electricity deregulation, but their tax-supported funding plan for the program was promptly criticized by Republicans.

The State Corporation Commission proposed using an existing special revenue tax to pay for the $6 million-a-year initiative to tell households about ways to shop around for electricity providers when deregulation begins. "This is a tax increase on the consumers of Virginia," said Del. Harry J. Parrish (R-Manassas), a member of a special oversight commission on deregulation.

"The funding mechanism does concern me," said Joshua N. Lief, a senior Gilmore administration official. Lawmakers will consider funding alternatives when the General Assembly convenes next month. Retail competition among Virginia's electric power providers is scheduled to begin in 2002, and by 2004, all customers will be eligible to pick their electric company.

THE REGION

Cuomo Releases Study of Homeless

A government study of homeless people released yesterday found that half of those interviewed said they often went without food for a day or more. A third said they had problems with alcohol abuse or mental illness, and a fourth said they had been sexually or physically abused as children.

The study, titled "The Forgotten Americans," was released by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew M. Cuomo, who was joined by actor William Baldwin, at the House of Ruth family shelter in Southeast Washington. Cuomo said arresting the homeless or forcing them to leave town is not the answer to a nationwide problem. He said 76 percent of the homeless who received adequate assistance with their problems were able to escape the shelters and join mainstream society.

Baldwin, president of the Creative Coalition, a nonprofit, nonpartisan political advocacy organization for the arts and entertainment industry, said he will use his celebrity to work for humane treatment of the homeless.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"It is the most credibility-minus report I've ever seen."

--John Fairman, chief executive of the Public Benefit Corp., the quasi-public agency that runs D.C. General Hospital, on an analysis claiming that large savings would result if health services now handled by the agency were put out for competitive bid.

--Page A4