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Nationally Renowned Pediatrician: Don’t Cut WV Support For Child Care

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PHOTO
July 5, 2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The state of West Virginia is cutting support for child care, meaning hundreds of working families will face thousands of dollars more in annual day-care costs.

A Charleston pediatrician recognized nationally for her work preventing child abuse says that's a terrible idea. Joan Phillips M.D., co-medical director of the Child Advocacy Center at CAMC Women and Children's hospital, says many struggling parents can't afford the higher bills. She says many could be forced to leave their children with someone not prepared for how hard it is to deal with a crying child.

Dr. Phillips, who this spring received the national Ray E. Helfer M.D. Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics for her work in preventing child abuse, says she's treated children who've been hurt in cases just like that.

"The mother was out of the home. The caretaker was unable to deal with the difficult job of parenting. And in that frustration, the child then became a victim. "

Dr. Phillips says high-quality child care takes training and experience, and reducing its availability is not smart. She says some infants can cry for hours even when nothing is wrong, and she says children a little older can be just as trying.

"We've all dealt with a two-year-old whose favorite word is 'no.' And during that toddler year of potty training, when they may have multiple accidents, it can be very frustrating."

Recent studies of how children learn suggest the years before kindergarten are crucial to a child's development. Dr. Phillips says that if we can invest in early child care the payoffs are substantial.

"Particularly that two-, three- and four-year-old age group, even if it's in a play and fun setting, it makes all the difference in their readiness for school and their school success once they get to school."

The state Department of Health and Human Resources says it's increasing co-pays, freezing enrollment and tightening income requirements in order to fill a budget shortfall.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV