Saving Youngest Victims of Drugs

Many West Virginians view children as both our most important resource and our greatest responsibility. Yet by the thousands, their parents are letting them down, sometimes virtually abandoning them.

It will come as no surprise that the drug abuse epidemic is to blame for a terrible spike in that problem.

Legislators were told last week that in October, the state had 6,290 children in foster care. That was 3,000 more than three years ago.

Department of Health and Human Resources officials call it “a child welfare crisis.” Fully 83 percent of child abuse and neglect cases involve drugs, they note.

DHHR Deputy Secretary Jeremiah Samples told lawmakers the state has been unable to find placements for many children who need foster homes. And, he added, the DHHR has a shortage of child protective services workers.

Samples added the DHHR hopes to use some surplus Medicaid funding to address the problem.

Gov. Jim Justice seems to believe the federal government will help with some money. Good. Every dime we can get from Washington is needed urgently.

But if legislators can find additional state funding for the DHHR to use in this situation, they should provide it.

Surely, somehow, they can find a few million dollars to help the youngest, most helpless victims of drugs.