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“I think there’s phenomenal hope because I don’t have an expectation that the government can do it; they’re running out of money themselves. The feds are going to drop it down to the state and they’ll drop it down to the local level, and then the communities will have to rise up.”

Churches, community groups and neighborhood volunteers with youngsters’ ears will do the grunt work, he said, engaging in non-monetary substitutes for parenting such as the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

The incentive to act is there, Mr. Braswell said.

“If it was a travesty in 1965, what is it now?”