In a Sept. 27 news story, the Progressive Policy Institute, a think tank allied to centrist Democrats, said the government must strengthen the two-parent family.

The institute made many excellent suggestions -- larger child tax exemptions, liberal business policies on family leave and flex-time -- but then recommended that all child support be federalized and collected like taxes. This contradicted everything it had said before.

The reason the child-support policy in this country has failed our children miserably for years is that, like the other policies the institute criticizes, it is a single-parent policy.

The two-parent policy is one of joint custody and specific, liberal, enforced access of parents, grandparents, stepparents and other members of the children's extended family who are so important in their lives. Access is what should be federalized. When the parents are around so are their wallets. The financial aspect will largely take care of itself.

Thinking in terms of emotional child support as well as financial child support will require a reorientation of public policy, but we thought that's what the institute's call for strengthening the two-parent family, including the restructured family of divorce, was all about.

DAVID L. LEVY President, National Council for Children's Rights Washington