Multiple organizations and groups have banded together to propose solutions to childhood poverty in West Virginia.
After a yearlong process of identifying issues surrounding childhood poverty, the coalition of families, congregations, businesses, advocates and unions will gather at the state Capitol for a two-day policy symposium during interims this week.
"For us, the reason to help convene this campaign a year ago when it started was that we were all working separately and winning battles. We were helping in small ways. But we were losing the war," said Stephen Smith, director of the WV Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, one of the event's organizers.
"The family poverty rate, rate of addiction, incarceration - any way you slice it, things are worse off for poor and working families in West Virginia than in the last generation or the one before it. That's the root of the campaign. For us to unite broadly enough to have political power to turn around that tide to win the war against child poverty."
"Our Children, Our Future Campaign to End Child Poverty" includes 160-plus partners, including groups ranging from local churches and parent groups to the WV AFL-CIO and the Chamber of Commerce.
The coalition formed about a year ago and worked toward progress on child poverty issues in the 2013 legislative session. It worked on restoring cuts to child abuse prevention programs as well as preventing families being cut from child care benefits and other initiatives, Smith said.
More than 200 are expected to attend this week's combined press conference and committee hearing - "Democracy in Action."
Tuesday will consist of 18 strategy sessions where community leaders will present research and proposals for fighting child poverty. Then, leaders will work with small groups of key stakeholders to put these plans in action.