By Emily Gallagher
Times West Virginian
Ending child poverty in the region is a hefty task to take on, but there are some people willing to work hard to help end it.
On Tuesday, people from different service organizations in Marion, Monongalia, Taylor and Harrison counties came together at the Disability Action Center in Fairmont to discuss the effects of child poverty in the region and possible solutions for those issues.
Stephen Smith, director at Healthy Kids and Family Coalition, said the meeting was part of the “Our Children, Our Future: Campaign to End Child Poverty” in West Virginia that started six months ago.
“This was a planning meeting with the North Central West Virginia region saying we want to do this, we want to stand up for our kids and take on these issues,” he said.
Smith told those who attended that the campaign is to help children who are struggling.
“Imagine if poor and vulnerable kids had as much political will and support behind them as the coal industry,” he told the audience. “It would be different.”
Smith said the poverty rate in West Virginia is as high as it’s ever been.
“Thirty percent of kids 6 and under live in poverty,” he said.
During the meeting, Smith went over 10 issues that affect child poverty in the state. The issues were found after a six-month statewide process by the campaign.
The first issue dealt with health care for 100,000 working families. Smith said the issue was Medicaid expansion and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as “Obamacare.”
“We’re going to help kids who are poor in the state and providing health insurance to 100,000 or their parents,” he said. “It’s a pretty massive thing — and it’s up to the governor to say yes or no.”