The U.S. National Commission on the International Year of the Child said yesterday that federal food programs provide only the barest subsistence needs of the poor, and more than 17 million American children live in "debilitating poverty."
The commission, headed by Jean C. Young, wife of former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, presented a report to President Carter that outlined many areas of inadequacy in the health care, education, housing, juvenile justice and nourishment of American's children.
The president accepted the report but did not say whether he intends to implement its recomendations. However, he thanked the commission, promised to read the report and declared that "this is not the end of our country's commitment to young people."
Young said, "We were kind of hoping he would do something," but added that she hopes that after Carter examines the report "we can expect some kind of action."
Among its findings, the commission reported:
One million youth are victims of child abuse and neglect.
Ten million children -- one of seven have no regular source of medical care; 20 million children under the age of 17 -- of every three -- have never seen a dentist.
Thirteen percent of all 17-year-olds in school are functionally illiterate.
Mental health services are not available to the majority of the children needing them.
One million children run away from home each year.
There are an estimated 5.3 million problem teen-age drinkers.
The groups suggested several changes n these and other areas. Among them:
A new effort to provide the best public schooling possible, including adequate staff, more money and community involvement and better materials.
A free program of maternal and child health insurance, more money for planning of child health services, more recruitment of minorities into the health professions and banning exports of unsafe products that "adversely affect the health of children."
Changing the juvenile justice system so that children are not drawn into it prematurely because of the difficulties of retrieving them, and providing appropriate care and treatment for children placed in out-of-home settings.