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"Step Up" For West Virginia Kids

October 14, 2009

CHARLESTON, W. Va. - When lawmakers do their work, their primary focus should be on their constituents who can't even vote yet - children. That's the message of a national coalition, Step Up For Kids, coming today to the West Virginia State Capitol.

Janet Scarcelli, the group's West Virginia chairperson, points out that one-third of the state's two-year-olds have not been immunized for all common childhood diseases and, between 2000 and 2005, the state recorded more than 100 deaths related to child abuse.

To policymakers, cutting government-funded social service programs might seem like a good way to save money when the state budget is tight. But Scarcelli warns, particularly in the areas of education and children's health care, these decisions can cost more in the long run.

"What may sound like good, logical financial sense may be detrimental, if we look at the long-range effects."

Scarcelli says her group is not here to advocate for a specific issue, only to remind legislators that the needs of children must be taken into account when policies are made.

"We want children and families to be in the forefront of decision-making. For example, if we change health care, children will be affected."

Gov. Joe Manchin and First Lady Gayle Connelly Manchin will host a rally and reception for the group today (Wednesday, Oct. 14) at the Capitol. The rally begins at 4:30 p.m. on the front steps.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV