Opinion, WVPA Sharing

Opinion: Keep kids safe with meaningful reforms to root problems

By Delegate Kathie Hess Crouse, R-Putnam

The recent tragedy involving Kyneddi Miller in Boone County is a devastating event that should never have occurred. It is imperative to investigate what went wrong, address the failures and hold those responsible accountable. Unfortunately, the Governor, some legislators and state agencies are deflecting responsibility by blaming homeschooling laws instead of addressing the core issue: the failure of government agencies to perform their duties.

Kyneddi Miller was withdrawn from school during the pandemic. Despite concerned family members contacting the Department of Human Services, the necessary actions were not taken. The appropriate tools and procedures were in place, yet those responsible did not utilize them effectively.

Rather than acknowledging these failures, this administration is promoting false narratives about homeschooling. The Governor, some legislators and agencies are advocating for new laws, but how can we trust new legislation when existing laws are not being enforced? We need genuine leadership, not blame-shifting. Rather than implementing new homeschooling laws, we should be looking at substantial reform to our child welfare system.

Our Child Protective Services (CPS) system is overburdened, underfunded and in dire need of reform. Caseworkers are overwhelmed with numerous allegations, many of which do not warrant investigation, diverting attention from critical cases like Kyneddi’s. National statistics indicate that nearly 90% of abuse and neglect reports are unfounded. We must do better. I intend to introduce legislation to give caseworkers more flexibility to prioritize significant cases and reduce unnecessary investigations.

This tragedy was not a failure of law or process, but a failure of individuals. Blaming homeschooling laws is not only incorrect but also unfairly targets the many West Virginia families who homeschool responsibly and effectively. This misdirection only endangers more children by distracting from the real issues. Addressing the root problems, rather than hastily approaching fixes for what isn’t broken, is crucial to protecting children like Kyneddi. 

Real leadership and meaningful reform are essential. I remain committed to advocating for the necessary changes to ensure the safety and well-being of all children in our state. 

Delegate Kathie Hess Crouse, R-Putnam, represents House District 19, which is made up entirely of Putnam County. She has served in the House since December 2021 and is the Vice Chairman of the House Workforce Development Committee.

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