A group of West Virginia agencies launched their year-long campaign, “Year of the Child” at a kickstart event at the WV culture center yesterday. The initiative is designed to address the impact of the opioid crisis on West Virginia’s children.
Speakers represented groups such as the West Virginia Child Advocacy Network, Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central West Virginia and the National Association of Social Workers.
“We have to have a rotation in consciousness to see our children from becoming recipients of entitlement programs, to becoming investments. It’s our most important investment in the state,” said Dr. Michael Brumage, the new director of the WV Office of Drug Control Policy.
“The opioid epidemic is ripping us apart,” he continued. “You’ve seen the statistics, it’s harrowing, but I believe there’s hope here. And if it starts anywhere, it has to start here today. The Year of the Child – it has to start with our children. We have an opioid response plan in the state of West Virginia and it includes medication-assisted treatment, finding more recovery beds – all kinds of other things – but we really need to take a step backwards and ask ‘what’s really driving this epidemic?’”
Brumage said healing the state is not just getting more beds, but looking at the social structure, the economy, the environment and how those factors are impacting West Virginians – particularly the youngest members of society. Other speakers spoke about places of great need – more foster families for example – as well as gave examples of initiatives they’ve found to be successful.
Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Marshall Health, Charleston Area Medical Center and WVU Medicine.