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The Biden-Harris administration is asking Congress for domestic supplemental funding to assist with the opioid crisis and child care costs — some of which would come to West Virginia.
If adopted, West Virginia would receive an estimated $39 million to counter fentanyl trafficking and strengthen addiction treatment, overdose prevention measures and recovery support services.
Xavier Becerra, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said in West Virginia, about 76 percent of the overdose deaths that occurred between May 2022 and May 2023 are due to synthetic opioids, primarily illicitly manufactured fentanyl.
“From this year to the previous year, West Virginia saw, I think, almost 1,500 deaths from overdose, most of those opioid overdoses, and the lion’s share today is driven by fentanyl,” Becerra said. “And so the $1.6 billion that the president is requesting in emergency funding for opioids would really help us target fentanyl. And let states try to make sure that they can catch someone before they overdose.”
According to provisional data from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, for a 12-month period ending in May 2023, 1,184 West Virginians died of an opioid overdose.
West Virginia also stands to gain $107 million for child care, if the domestic supplemental funding request is adopted by Congress.
Becerra said pandemic-era child care stabilization increased the labor force participation for mothers with young children by an additional three percentage points.
“The president’s request is to help extend funding for many of those child care centers, over 61,000 children and their families in West Virginia benefited from those funds, and at least 1,600 childcare providers,” Becerra said. “I think the average cost of childcare in West Virginia is somewhere around $9,000. And we know that the stabilization funds end up saving families over $1,000 a year in their childcare expense per child.”
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the price of child care for an infant in West Virginia is $8,736 per year.