West Virginia women have the lowest workforce participation rate in the country. Many Mountain State moms want to work, but can’t because of the lack of child care. They either can’t find child care, or they can’t afford it. Last year’s unexpected closure of schools in the spring, and then months of isolation from extended families and caregivers, really put a spotlight on these issues. But as Emily Corio reports, child care challenges pre-date the pandemic.
Within the past decade, the number of children in the state’s foster care system has increased by 67 percent. Approximately 7,000 children are in state custody. The system swelled as the opioid drug epidemic took a significant toll on West Virginians. Parental drug use has been a factor in many cases where children were removed from their homes.