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Funding for child advocacy programs still at issue

Editor’s note — Reporters from WVPA member newspapers documented ongoing efforts by advocates of early childhood and domestic violence programs, along with may state legislators, to have funding levels restored for such state program. The following is a summary of last week’s work. See links the end of the summary for the complete articles:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — While Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin last week restored part of the funding he had cut from early childhood and domestic violence programs, some legislators and advocates have made it clear that restoration of additional funding should be a priority.

In his March 27 veto message, Tomblin reduced the $4.5 billion 2014-15 budget passed by the Legislature by $67 million; that included reductions in funding for social service programs.

Tomblin will restore or partially restore $260,000 in funding to three Department of Health and Human Resources accounts. The three are part of the $1 million in social service programs he reduced by line-item veto in March. Tomblin is restoring $150,000 to the In-Home Family Education Fund, $80,000 to the Children’s Trust Fund, and $30,000 to the Domestic Violence Legal Services Fund.

However, state lawmakers and advocates said additional funds are needed. Several legislators said additional funding for child abuse and domestic violence programs is available within the state budget. They say such programs shouldn’t be cut at all.

“The Crimes Against Children Committee also fought for increases in the FY 2015 budget to Child Advocacy Centers and made it a part of its platform,” said Delegate Linda Phillips, D-Wyoming, and chairwoman of the committee.

“I serve on the House Finance Committee and I understand the difficulties of balancing the state budget in this economy. The House fought for this increase in funding, recognizing the vital services (Child Advocacy Centers) provide and the Legislature approved a budget with a $200,000 increase for (Child Advocacy Centers).”

Phillips, other members of the committee, Sen. Bill Laird, D-Fayette, and U.S Attorney Booth Goodwin joined members of the Our Children, Our Future coalition Thursday to call on the governor to rethink his actions and consider supplemental appropriations for the programs during a special session expected to begin later this month.

“We have a lot of at-risk children in every one of our 55 counties,” said Delegate Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia. “A million dollars was taken away. We know if it’s important, they can find the money.”

Stephen Smith, with the Our Children, Our Future Campaign, said, “This is a first step, but only that. We cannot call this a victory when there are still 80 people who will lose their jobs if the remainder of these cuts are allowed to go through.”

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said 60 percent of children in the U.S. are exposed to some form of violence — either as victims or witnesses. Another 40 percent are victims of violent acts.

“We must do everything possible to support programs that help build strong children,” Goodwin said. “It’s truly an investment we must make.”

Goodwin said children who grow up as witnesses to violence are more likely to become violent adults. “Every dollar we invest in early intervention pays off a hundred-fold in crimes averted and lives spared from the consequences of violent behavior,” he said.

Reporters:

Reach Eric Eyre at [email protected] or 304-348-4869.  See more at: http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140508/GZ01/140509311#sthash.TOr9ckiT.dpuf

Reach Phil Kabler at [email protected] or 3094-348-1220. See more at: http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140507/GZ01/140509451#sthash.iNxrY4op.dpuf

Reach Whitney Burdette at 304-348-7939 or [email protected]. Follow her at www.Twitter.com/wburdette_DM. See more at: http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140508/DM0104/140509320#sthash.rmRRjYYW.dpuf

 

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