MORGANTOWN (AP) - Children are dying from abuse and neglect at a higher rate in West Virginia than any other state.
Judges, social workers and others say the problem is fueled by rampant substance abuse, and it's likely to grow unless lawmakers and communities get serious about finding and funding solutions.
Experts say that without a strong statewide safety net of foster care, adoptive families, in-home services and community-based prevention and treatment programs for parents and children, abuse victims are likely to repeat what they have learned.
Nicholas County Circuit Judge Gary Johnson worries the state is headed for what he calls a whole generation of lost souls.
Johnson says nearly 90 percent of the child-welfare cases he hears involve substance abuse, and West Virginia can't tackle one problem without tackling the other.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.