Statewide Group Offers Legislature 11 Priorities to Benefit Children

Jan 7, 2014

The Healthy Kids and Families Coalition presented 11 issues known as the Our Children, Our Future Campaign to End Child Poverty and then hand-delivered them to legislators at the Capitol Tuesday. The group wants these issues made priority as the 60-day  session begins Wednesday.

Executive Director of the Healthy Kids and Families Stephen Smith hands the Our Children, Our Future Campaign's platform to Hallie Mason of the governor's office.
Credit Aaron Payne

Those 11 issues include:

1. Protect Funding for Family Support Programs

The goal is to keep Family Resource Networks and Starting Points Family Resource Centers across the state funded.

2. In-Home Family Education Programs/Early Childhood

This calls for a multi-year plan of expansion of family education programs and expansion of early childhood programs.

3. Minimum Wage/ State EITC

A raise in the minimum wage and/or the state Earned Income Tax Credit is believed to be a counterbalance to inflation in recent years.

4. Our Kids Need Physical Activity and Recess

The recommendation is for children in K-8 30 minutes of physical activity a day during school.

5. Creating a Future Fund

Senate President Jeff Sessler’s proposed creation of a permanent mineral trust fund from a portion of severance taxes would, in theory, ensure a better economic future for West Virginia’s children.

6. Substance Abuse 3-Part Plan

-Address with pseudoephedrine, which is being diverted to manufacture meth.
-Provide adequate funding for Peer-Based Recovery Support through Medicaid Direct Reimbursement.
-Remove barriers to employment and other services for those in successful long-term recovery

7. Quality Homes, Quality Jobs Act

This would provide children with better housing now and then job training later that they currently wouldn’t receive.

8. SNAP Limits to Improve Oral Health

It would be requested that the USDA allow West Virginia to not allow the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to be used to purchase non-nutritive soft drinks.

9. Parent Mentor Program

The Parent Mentor Program provides low-income parents with stipends in exchange for becoming aides in the classroom while also engaging in leadership activities.

10. Pregnant Workers’ Fairness

The West Virginia Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would lay out a specific set of rules to ensure there are reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers. Two examples would be a stool for a worker to sit on at a cash register or a having a bottle of water on hand throughout the day.

11. Increase in Tobacco Tax

By increasing the tax by one dollar per package, or at least have the price coincide with the national average, it is believed that more parents would quit, providing a better example of health and more money for food and other necessities.

Each issue was presented with expert and personal testimonies from citizens ranging from students to politicians.

The coalition complied a number of issues in public forums statewide and then had over 1,000 citizens vote for which issues they believed were most important.