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Editorial: School clothing vouchers — dress them for success in class

From The Dominion Post of Morgantown:

There’s no need to even mention it in front of the kids, yet.

But on Monday, in one of the few sure signs it’s back-to- school time, the state will begin accepting applications for school clothing vouchers.

Families with school-aged children enrolled in West Virginia schools and whose families already receive cash assistance from the state will automatically receive the $200 vouchers.

Families who received school clothing vouchers last year and receive Medicaid or SNAP benefits from the Department of Health and Human Resources should have received an application by mail in June. Others may be eligible for school clothing vouchers, but the monthly income for a family of four may not exceed $2,050.

Begun in 1974 by then Gov. Arch Moore, the School Clothing Allowance began with a voucher worth $25. Today’s vouchers are $200 per child.

The program has provided much-needed new clothing for more than 50,000 children living at or below the poverty level on average yearly since 2000.

Many older residents may recall classmates or have once been one of the children who dreaded the thought of school starting because of the lack of or condition of their clothes.

Though building confidence in any child is no small task and though adults often forget, the greatest obstacle for children and teenagers to navigate is often simply fitting in — being accepted.

By government standards, this program is small, costing taxpayers a bit more than $10 million annually.

We don’t have many fond memories of the Moore administration or many succeeding ones, but we do credit all of them for maintaining this program.

As we noted above, news of this program signals school’s start is on the horizon, but it also indicates something else.

Something that is far more troubling than having to sit in a classroom listening to another lecture.

It also signals our state, which appears to be the only one in the country to have a program like this, faces major challenges providing for vulnerable children.

At a time when cuts to health care funding, lowering nutrition standards, an opioid epidemic and other risks threaten children and youth, this program serves as an opportunity for children excel.

But it’s not just an opportunity to not stick out from their peers or feel comfortable in their clothes.

It also often translates into them concentrating more on their schoolwork than on any perceived shortcomings.

But whatever you do, don’t tell them that’s the idea here.

Editor’s Note:

FOR MORE ON eligibility guidelines or to apply, contact your local DHHR office, apply online at wvinroads.org or call 1-877-716-1212.

FOR A LIST of participating stores, visit http://bit.ly/2tYljq6.

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