A new national report finds West Virginia is among 12 states with the largest percentage of children with a parent who has been in and out of jail.
The Annie E Casey Foundation sets forth recommendations for judges, community organizations, local government and states. The study said in West Virginia alone, 34,000 children are affected. One in 10 children are considered at risk, with a parent who has been in, or is currently in jail.
The recommendations challenges the state, local government and communities to gear efforts to helping children who fall into this category.
The West Virginia KIDS COUNT Fund collects and provides data about the well-being of children in the state.
West Virginia KIDS COUNT Interim Executive Director Laura Gandee said people need to demand that lawmakers put kids first.
Gandee said right now they are not.
“What is needed is a 360 approach in communities where all the communities resources from schools to social service organizations to law enforcement are brought together to form sort of a cocoon around these very vulnerable families,” Gandee said.
Gandee said she’s seen the city of Charleston making efforts to curb the problem in the capital city.
She said the Charleston Police Department has the right idea, that it’s not a problem law enforcement can fix through arrests.
“We need to focus on the policy needs of children and they often get left behind, mainly because they don’t vote. A lot of these kids who are at risk come from poor families who don’t have a lot of political clout,” Gandee said.
Examples of these recommendations are to direct more funds toward prison education for parents in jail, provide incentives to housing authorities, and for communities to offer programs and counseling tailored to at risk children.
For a detailed list of recommendations head to A Shared Sentence at www.aecf.org.
This is story was used through a partnership between The Logan Banner and WCHS/WVAH TV. More online at wchstv.com.