CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — West Virginia has the highest rate of child poverty of any state in the nation, and the problem is getting worse before it gets better.
In West Virginia, 25% of children live in poverty, this is a 21% jump from 2022. This means that 86,000 children in West Virginia live in poverty. In neighboring states, Ohio is at 17% and Kentucky is at 21%.
As with many things these days, the aftermath of COVID-19 is largely to blame. During COVID-19, nearly every American family received stimulus checks to pay for necessities, and SNAP benefits were increased to help feed people. As COVID-19 started to become a smaller concern, those programs ended.
There was also an expansion of the federal child tax credit to give families more money, but it went away too. Now some states are trying to make up the difference.
“There have been state governments across the country that took a look at what had been working at the federal level. One thing that had been working was that expanded child tax credit, and have enacted their own mini-versions at the state level, child tax credits,” said Sean O’Leary, Senior Policy Analyst with the WV Center on Budget & Policy.
The West Virginia Legislature has considered a state child tax credit but has not approved it.
Aside from what governments do, how can average people help? Experts say food and money donations to local food banks, pantries and kitchens go a long way to help families in need.