MARSHALL COUNTY, W. Va. (WTRF)
Child protective services referrals in West Virginia are the lowest they’ve been in five years.
But officials say that isn’t because the problems have gone away.
They say it’s because kids aren’t in school, so teachers aren’t seeing–and reporting–the signs of childhood trauma.
Marshall County School Superintendent Shelby Haines says teachers are trained to spot children struggling with problems ranging from abuse and neglect to hunger.
“We are in the middle of a mental health crisis, an opioid epidemic and we have kids at home,” said Haines. “And we’re very worried about them. We’ve continued to feed about 1500 students during the pandemic, all through the summer even, and so we want to make sure everybody’s healthy and fed and well.”
She said Marshall County is second highest county in the state in terms of babies born to addicted mothers.
And she says the school system had just begun a collaborative effort with the DHHR and the juvenile justice system, but then the pandemic hit.
She said kids are best served when they’re in school, for many reasons.
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