Chris Schulz Published

Justice Highlights National Recognition For Communities In Schools

School desk and chairs in empty modern classroom. Empty class room with white board and projector in elementary school. Primary classroom with smart board and alphabet on wall.Rido/Adobe Stock

West Virginia is the first state department of education to receive national certification as a licensed partner of Communities In Schools (CIS). 

Active in all but two of the state’s counties, the program’s site coordinators are based in schools. They coordinate with community partners to bring outside resources into the schools. From addressing immediate needs like food or clothing to more complex challenges such as counseling and emotional support, CIS uses an evidence-based model that is adaptable to meet a child’s, or a community’s, unique needs.

During his regular briefing Tuesday, Gov. Jim Justice highlighted the program, calling it the most successful program he had ever seen in schools.

“All we are doing in West Virginia, and all we continue to do, is step up and help a kid,” he said.

Later in the briefing, Justice was asked how he measured the program’s successes given the variety of issues facing the state’s students. He highlighted the impact of the program on the state’s children for a small investment. 

“The site coordinators and these people are reacting and they’re doing it,” he said. “There is so many success stories, it’s unbelievable. For nothing, for peanuts in the scope of things. Whether it be two or $5 million. It sounds like a lot of money, but in the entire scope of our education department and in schools, it’s peanuts.”

The governor and First Lady Cathy Justice have supported a statewide CIS initiative since 2018, when it was in just three counties.

The West Virginia Department of Education said Communities in Schools has supported more than 100,000 students in the 260 schools where it has been implemented.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting produced two documentaries on the state’s CIS program, “Communities in Schools: Extending a Helping Hand” and “Communities In Schools: Friends With Paws.”