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West Virginia

Our grantee in West Virginia, TEAM for West Virginia Children (TEAM), works with communities and families to advance the well-being of children, making their needs and healthy development a priority. TEAM partners with an integrated network of programs to advocate for children, champion family-friendly communities, educate the public, and strengthen families. They convene a Legislative Action Team of the state’s leading organizations to monitor pending legislation and advocate for policies and legislative proposals that benefit children.

2023 State Early Childhood Policy Environment and Progress

State early childhood policy progress is dependent both on the state’s policy environment and the numerous efforts — by those listed on this page and many others — who worked both independently and collaboratively to achieve wins for young children.

Early Childhood Landscape:

Research shows that family economic security is foundational to children’s overall wellbeing. Research also shows that widespread disparities in opportunity (especially by race) drive wide disparities in outcomes. States with policies that offer strong support to young children and their families are more likely to see 1) declining numbers of children in low-income households and 2) low racial disparity among those children. 

Young Children in Low-Income Households: Declining

Approximately 49% (80,000) of the state’s children 0-8 live in households below 200% FPL (2021). This number represents a decrease from 53% (96,000) in 2016.1

Racial Disparity Among Young Children Living in Low-Income Households: High

Black, Hispanic/Latino, and Native children aged 0-8 are significantly more likely to be living in households below 200% FPL than are Asian and non-Hispanic White children.2

Advocacy Landscape:

State General Fund Appropriations: Growing 

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice signed the fiscal 2024 budget bill into law on March 17. Total appropriations from the general, lottery and excess lottery funds are $5.35 billion, an increase of 5.6 percent over fiscal 2023 appropriations. General revenue fund appropriations total $4.87 billion in fiscal 2024, an increase of 5.05 percent over fiscal 2023. General revenues are projected to total $4.88 billion in fiscal 2024, an increase of 5.35 percent over the fiscal 2023 general revenue estimate. The budget includes $1.165 billion in one-time spending that could be allocated only if the state closes fiscal year 2023 with surplus revenue. Fiscal 2023 revenue collections came in at $1.8 billion overestimate.3

Key Revenue Sources:

    • Personal Income Tax (3.0%-6.5%)
    • State Sales Tax (6.0%)

Political Alignment: Aligned Republican

During the 2023 session, the state’s Senate and House were both Republican controlled. The state’s Governor was also a Republican.4

Types of Ballot Measures Available:5  One

    • Legislature-Initiated Constitutional Amendments – A constitutional amendment that appears on a state’s ballot as a ballot measure because the state legislature in that state voted to put it before the voters.

Key State Policy Advocacy Organizations Include:

Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Multi-State Initiatives Include:6

2023 Policy Progress:

West Virginia is seeing increased grassroots action and stronger support to solve the state’s child care crisis—as well as increased understanding among lawmakers about the importance of quality child care for West Virginia. Although child care legislation was not passed, grassroots advocacy resulted in the administration extending reimbursement based on enrollment (versus attendance) through August of 2024. Community Town Halls (like this one) have been held throughout the state building bipartisan support for legislative action in 2024.

Highlights from the state’s early childhood policy advocacy community include:7

While legislation to support child care by changing the subsidy reimbursement to being based on enrollment rather than attendance did not make it to the legislative finish line this session, on April 20th the WV Department of Health & Human Resources (DHHR) announced additional funding had been allocated to allow child care providers to be reimbursed based on enrollment through August 2024. This is a huge win as the policy was slated to end in September 2023.

Advocates successfully opposed two bills, SB654 and HB3484, that would restrict access to SNAP benefits for families.

Advocates opposed and helped defeat SB 59, which would have slashed unemployment benefits for laid off workers from up to 26 weeks to just 12 weeks of benefits. 

TEAM worked closely with a new coalition of partners including the WV Association for Young Children to advance support for child care. In addition to advocating for the attendance vs. enrollment legislation (see above), TEAM assisted in the planning and hosting of the first Child Care Day at the Legislature on Feb. 14th.

TEAM went on statewide radio to promote its child care data dashboard, which was developed with Child Care Aware of America.

HB3018, which takes a strong step to end child marriage in West Virginia, was signed into law. The bill passed the House, but was voted down in the Senate Judiciary. A senator later moved to discharge the bill, and it was ultimately considered for passage. Some senators objected to limiting marriage licenses only to those who are over 18. The bill passed after being amended to establish minimum age of 18 with provisions for 16 and 17 year-olds provided the fiancée is less than four years older.

Although advocates for children and families voiced strong opposition, they were not able to defeat a significant new cut to the state income tax. HB 2526 cuts personal income tax rates by 21.25% across all tax brackets. The bill is expected to reduce state revenues by over $750 million per year at a time when increased funding for child care and other early childhood programs has been delayed for years. The tax cuts have been proposed by the governor for each of the past five years.

 

Ongoing Grantee Areas of Advocacy:

The Alliance’s lead grantee in West Virginia, TEAM for West Virginia Children, is working to advance early childhood policies in several areas: 

Early Care and Education

Child Care

 

Child and
Maternal Health

Maternal Health

 

Family
Supports

Paid Family Leave

Child Welfare

Home Visiting

Family Economic Security

Early Childhood Infrastructure

Click here for more information on advocates’ policy agenda.

 

RECENT ADVOCACY SNAPSHOT:

NOTES:

1 Kids Count Data Center, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, November, 2022 

2 National Center for Children in Poverty, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, March 2023, NCCP analysis of ACS 1-Year Estimates – Public Use Microdata Sample 2021

3 National Association of State Budget Officers, Summaries of Fiscal Year 2024 Enacted Budgets, October 11, 2023.

4 National Conference of State Legislatures, 2023 State & Legislative Partisan Composition, February 28, 2023.

5 Ballotpedia, Ballot Measures by State, Kids Count Data Center, retrieved May, 2023.

6 Alliance for Early Success, Multi-State Initiatives for Early Childhood Policy Advocacy, April, 2022.

7 Alliance for Early Success, State-Wide Advocacy Highlights Survey, April-August, 2023.  

More State Policy Data:

West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia

More State Demographic Data:

West Virginia
West Virginia