Our Children, Our Future Campaign to End Child Poverty
- Protect and Provide a Secure Funding Stream for Family Support Programs. Last year, the legislature heroically fought to protect vital state programs that give families a hand-up out of poverty; programs like the Family Resource Networks (that produce better than a 10:1 return on investment, by leveraging private, local and federal dollars) and Family Resource Centers (which are a hub for family services). We need a permanent funding solution so these programs are not always fighting for their lives. Contact April Miller (email@example.com).
- A Smart Start for WV—Invest in Early Childhood. The Governor’s Early Childhood Task Force offers a 10-year plan to make WV a national leader in early childhood, so our children grow up healthy, strong and ready to learn. Recommendations include expanding home-visiting, access for quality childcare, Birth to three, financing options, governance and program accountability. The legislature should adopt these recommendations and pass a plan to being this expansion. $1 in = $7 in the long-run. Contact Jim McKay (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Juvenile Justice Reform. West Virginia is experiencing a crisis in the number of children referred to juvenile court as a result of missing school. We must amend the currant truancy law to extend the number of unexcused absences from five days to ten. Additionally, the truancy law should require schools to employ school-based and community interventions to improve attendance before referring a student to juvenile court. Contact Jen Meinig (email@example.com).
- Drinking Water Protections. The chemical spill crisis disproportionately hurt low-income and working families, and their children. We must protect drinking water protections, especially SB 373. Contact Angie Rosser (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Defend Medicaid and CHIP, while Expanding Medicaid Access to Mental Health Therapy. Health bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy in America… and Medicaid Expansion and CHIP are proven to save money in the long run. We must defend and adequately fund these programs, while expanding Medicaid access to mental health therapy so that a struggling child or family doesn’t have to wait months to get help just because they have the ‘wrong’ insurance plan. Contact Sam Hickman (email@example.com) or Renate Pore (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Past Due! It’s time to choose: WV’s kids or Big Tobacco? Increasing the tax on tobacco saves lives, reduces health care costs and provides a revenue source. It’s proven as the best way to protect kids and pregnant women from this addition. Contact Christine Compton (Christine.email@example.com).
- Retiring Old Laws so Nurses (APRN’s) can meet health needs for WV Families. Let nurses nurse. Old laws bar Advance Practice Nurses from doing what they are trained to do; we need a change so communities get the care they need, while saving everyone money. Contact Aila Accad (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Stopping Meth Labs in WV. Over-the-counter pseudo-ephedrine now exists that can’t be turned into meth. Now is the time to require a prescription for pseudo-ephedrine that can be turned into meth. Supported by law enforcement, shown to reduce meth labs. Contact Judy Crabtree (email@example.com).
- Erin’s Law: Preventing Childhood Sexual Assault. We must train educators and school personnel to spot the signs of child sexual abuse, and respond. Contact Brooke Drake (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Providing Earned, Paid Sick Days for Workers & Schedules that Work. A paid sick time policy would make our families stronger, our workplaces healthier, and improve the well-being of children. Workers shouldn’t have to choose between their job and their family’s health. Contact Erin Snyder (email@example.com).
The Our Children, Our Future Campaign is a non-partisan alliance of 177+ churches, community organizations, businesses, unions, schools, and advocates – devoted to ending child poverty in West Virginia. We have fought and won 12 policy victories in two years by engaging new voters and families in the political process; we will defend these victories in addition to the campaigns above. Over 3400 leading West Virginians participated in the creation of the above platform – attending a community meeting, participating in a policy workshop or Symposium, or casting a ballot. Contact Chris Kimes firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Herald Dispatch Article below about OCOF Platform
Group to support family, other programs
BARBOURSVILLE — Protecting the funding stream for family support programs, investing in early childhood education, reforming the juvenile justice system, protecting drinking water, and defending and expanding Medicaid are the top five goals this year for the Our Children Our Future campaign.
Our Children Our Future is a grassroots, nonpartisan alliance of nearly 180 groups throughout the state, including churches, community organizations, businesses, unions, schools and other advocates. The group’s focus is ending child poverty in West Virginia by tackling legislative reform on issues that are detrimental to children and families.
Founded in 2012, the group identifies specific goals each year for its legislative platform, and Rick Wilson of the campaign shared those goals Monday with members of Huntington’s League of Women Voters.
Last year, Our Children Our Future achieved nearly all its top five goals either through legislative successes or other policy changes. One exception was its goal of making pseudoephedrine a prescription drug in West Virginia. It also aimed to implement a multi-year plan for statewide expansion of in-home family education programs, as well as other efforts to expand access to early childhood programs and strengthen the state’s early childhood system. Early childhood funding was maintained but not expanded to meet those goals.
The group saw success for its other goals of protecting funds for family support programs, increasing minimum wage and establishing a Future Fund, or mineral trust fund from a portion of severance taxes to provide a long-term source of wealth for the state.
“We try to find issues each year that are winnable, impactful and provide a platform for people to speak for themselves,” said Wilson, who works as director of the American Friends Service Committee’s West Virginia Economic Justice Project.
Back on the agenda this year is protecting funds for family support programs, which often end up on the budget chopping block, Wilson said. The group is going to continue lobbying for the early childhood programs. Wilson said he particularly thinks universal, in-home early childhood programs could be beneficial to West Virginia families. He said there also seems to be a need to rework the juvenile justice system, so that kids get the help they need and state funds aren’t wasted.
“Does it make sense to lock up a kid for $100,000 for truancy?” he said.
Drinking water protections are a priority this year as well, after last year’s chemical spill in Charleston. The group also is going to focus on passing legislation that defends funding for Medicaid and CHIP expansion, while expanding access to mental health therapy. West Virginia has been a national leader in Medicaid expansion to 150,000 working West Virginians, Wilson said. Some of those recipients have amazing stories, he said. One was that of a married couple of a childcare worker and small business owner who finally could get treatment covered for a possibly fatal illness last year after receiving Medicaid. Wilson also talked about a veteran who had become addicted to painkillers and was able to get coverage for substance abuse treatment with Medicaid.
“More and more people are able to get treatment for opioid addiction because of Medicaid expansion,” Wilson said.
For 2015, “I think we ended up with a good platform,” Wilson said. “I think we should have bipartisan support and there’s a good chance it could get funded.”