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Community meeting focuses on child poverty

Mar. 08, 2013 @ 11:40 PM

HUNTINGTON -- Stacie Edwards of Ceredo said her main focus when it comes to raising her daughter is being a good role model.

"I just want to be able to show my little girl how to be a strong woman and that she is capable of working and taking care of herself when she grows up," Edwards said.

That is why Edwards was one of about 100 people who attended a public forum on child poverty issues Friday night at the Cabell County Department of Health and Human Resources Office.

The meeting was one of 12 hosted throughout West Virginia last night by a statewide coalition of childcare advocates and organizations to discuss the issue of child poverty in the state -- including bills that have been proposed in the West Virginia Legislature that could hinder or help the efforts to curb the state's 30 percent poverty rate for children younger than 6.

Edwards said she receives $365 per month from the state to help with child care for her daughter while she works her full-time, minimum wage job. She said proposed cuts to funding for childcare not only will force her to quit her current job, but also would cost the state more in the long run.

"Without that help, I can't afford to pay for her care, and I would have to quit my job to stay home and take care of her," Edwards said. "That would mean I would have to start using more state assistance. I checked on Food Stamps and housing assistance, and I'd be getting a total of $817 from the state, which seems like it would be counterproductive from the state's perspective."

It's that kind of scenario that motivated organizers, like Jim McKay, state coordinator for Prevent Child Abuse West Virginia, to put the events together.

"We know poverty doesn't have to be a determinate of a child's life, but we also know it is a hindrance throughout their lives," McKay said. "Our lawmakers are at the capitol considering laws and talking about budgets, natural resources and other things in the state. We just want to make sure they invest in our most important resource, which is our children."

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