Protect Our Children
What We're Up Against
Right now across West Virginia, working families have few–if any– options for affordable quality child care.
While the median annual cost for a child under four in a full-time childcare center is $8,320 dollars, a single parent making minimum wage in West Virginia only makes $18,200. Working class parents essentially have two options, both awful: “I can stay home, and lose wages. Or I can go to work, lose time with my child, and still be unable to make ends meet.”
Currently, the cost of childcare is not only unaffordable: for too many families it’s completely unavailable, especially in rural areas, where 3 in 5 communities lack childcare option.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
- Reverse the privatization of foster kid’s health care benefits.
- Kinship families should receive the same benefits that foster parents do.
- Pay increases, training, and more hiring of well-qualified child protective services workers and public defenders.
- Support the development of a statewide foster, adoptive, and kinship parents network.
The Workers Bill of Rights includes:
- earned sick days,
- paid family leave,
- and a $15 minimum wage for all workers,
Families who work harder get poorer. Working class families face a complicated web of benefits that effectively penalizes hard work and family. We will work with state and federal regulators to streamline the benefit system, and we will end the perverse incentives that too often cause people to forgo a raise at work for fear of being unable to feed their families.
The Taxpayer Council would include representation from biological parents, medical professionals, youth advocates, service providers, and foster/adoptive/kinship parents to craft a wide range of initiatives to protect children, including:
- Shifting the child protective services system toward restorative action, and away from punishment/removal. We will not confuse poverty with neglect or abuse.
- Under no circumstances may a fit parent lose the right to contact with his or her child. Being unable to make rent or pay bills–or living in a rural area with sparse services–does not equate to child neglect.
- Measures to address the crisis of foster children who have been neglected in state custody.
- Nondiscrimination in foster care placement for both children and parents.
- Support for permanency pacts for foster children who are aging out of care.
- Creation of a centralized statewide database of all foster families.
- Better oversight and training for child protective services workers, and others.
- Make sure that frontline workers are heard throughout DHHR and the Office of Early Childhood Development.
- Raise the income limit for child care subsidies to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, increasing access to childcare for more than ten thousand more working families, each year
- Phase in evidence-based voluntary home visiting programs (aka In-Home Family Education) for families who are expecting or raising young children ages 0-3, and who want to participate.
- Expand the Birth to Three program.
- Establish Family Resource Centers in all 55 counties.
- Implement a quality improvement system for child care, which will increase the pay and training available to child care workers.
No one politician or slate of candidates can win this plan alone. We need you.
If you have an idea for how to make this plan stronger, or if you would like to lend a hand to win it, contact our co-chair Stephen Smith at email@example.com.