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The Big Ideas

for March 2, 2020 

The mission of Think Kids is "fostering ingenuity, inspiring change, and cultivating generations of healthy, happy kids."
Welcome to the first issue of our newsletter!
What We're Seeing at the Capitol

We're less than a week away from the end of West Virginia's 2020 legislative session. Again this year, kids' health wasn't a primary focus of session, but perhaps more than in previous years, due primarily to the drug crisis, bills were introduced to respond to the burden of need on systems that care for these kids. On the whole, it's been a mixed bag; while none have made it to the Governor's desk, and some have died, a handful remain in play. 

Some legislators vowed last year that a "foster care 2.0" bill would be introduced this session. It was, and it's still moving. House Bill 4092 has bipartisan support, but also a $16.9 million dollar fiscal note. It's currently in Senate Judiciary, and then must pass through Senate Finance before moving to the floor. It passed out of the House in a 96-1 vote, and we hear that there's still great interest in passing it, but senators continue to tweak it. 

The bill intends do a number of meaningful things, like create a foster children’s bill of rights and a foster parents and kinship bill of rights, give foster parents more authority over daily decisions, and update payment rates. Child placement agencies will be paid a rate of $75 per day, per child, with foster parents receiving at least 40% of the rate, or a minimum of $30 per day. For kinship parents, a floor of $900 per month, per child is established. 

We're watching the budget bills take shape, and a few important kids' programs and services have been on the chopping block. For example, the original Senate Budget Bill provided $10 million less for the IDD waiver. It also significantly cut the WVDE Communities in Schools program. The House Budget Bill cut $3 million from the Mountaineer Challenge Academy and $1 million from Governor's Community Food Program. As we write this, both houses are in session over the weekend, amending their budget bills. 

We were surprised to see House Bill 2794, "Establishing the Summer Feeding for All initiative," die in House Finance. We weren't necessarily surprised that it didn't make it through before crossover day; a similar bill, House Bill 187, met the same fate last year. Rather, we were surprised to see the bill, with no fiscal note, advance to House Finance Committee, where it was never placed on the agenda. 

If you'd like to learn more about the challenge West Virginia's kids in accessing food when school is out over the summer, this story map is a great reference. 

For some good news, House Bill 4773, "Creating a workgroup to investigate and recommend screening protocols for adverse childhood trauma in this state,"  is currently on the Senate Floor on second reading. Many of us are surprised and elated to see this bill come so far, and eager to see how the work unfolds if it passes. 

Here's a short list of other bills we're following: 

Senate Bill 723- Requiring Department of Education develop plan based on analyzed data on school discipline
House Bill 4415- Relating to missing and endangered children
House Bill 4497
Requiring an external defibrillator device at any secondary school athlete event
House Bill 4543Relating to insurance coverage for diabetics

Session ends on March 7. We'll be back on the 16th with a wrap up and updates on any interim committee studies that include kids' health. If you have any information on bills that include kids but not included here, please let us know. 

Together with partners around the state, we're undertaking a statewide assessment to learn how communities are addressing the needs of children affected by the drug crisis.  
We've partnered with UniCare to build better bridges between the primary care system and community resources that address hunger, because health and hunger go hand and hand. 
Recently, Cindy Chamberlin, with West Virginia To the Moon and Back, was asked to speak at the National Rural Health Policy Institute. Hear about her unforeseen adventure to DC and what she's learned along the way in our most recent blog post, Keep Talking, They'll Listen

In a new report, published in The Lancet, written by a commission convened by UNICEF and the WHO, and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a group of 40 child health experts from around the world find that the future of all children is under immediate threat from 3 major trends: climate change, exploitative marketing practices and increasing socio-economic inequalities. 

Millions of children across the world aren't going to school. The coronavirus has isolated millions of children--some for over a month. What are the effects of studying remotely, in isolation?

In Columbus, a new behavioral health center is opening at Nationwide Children's Hospital. It will be America’s largest center dedicated to child mental health on a pediatric medical campus.

In a new study led Brigham Young University, public health researchers found that the number of calories eaten in snacks after children play in extra curricular activities "far exceeds" the number of calories burned while playing. 

Published in the March 2020 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is a compelling study that shows how children often understand more about food insecurity than their parents give them credit for. Researchers interviewed 60 children from San Francisco. Their findings: "Our study shows that children are not only aware that their family is food insecurity, but they’re also psychologically impacted by it."

West Virginia News

Potential game-changing autism legislation dies in WV House- Charleston Gazette-Mail, February 27, 2020

WV budget battle looms over disability waivers WOWK-TV- February 28, 2020

After Another Rural Hospital Closure, W.Va. Hospital Association President Speaks Out- West Virginia Public Broadcasting, February 27, 2020 

Study: About 8 percent of WV babies exposed to alcohol shortly before birth- WVNews, February 20, 2020

Breaking a sweat — and new ground for physical activity across WV- Williamson Daily News, February 19, 2020

Grant Aims To Combat Opioid Addiction In Pregnant Women- West Virginia Public Broadcasting, February 13, 2020

Kids' Health Hero

We're looking at you, Delegate Lisa Zukoff! Did you know that after she read Dr. Nadine Burke Harris' The Deepest Well, she bought 10 copies and handed them out to fellow legislators? She is the lead sponsor of House Bill 4773- Creating a workgroup to investigate and recommend screening protocols for adverse childhood trauma in this state, as well as a co-sponsor of bills that would address trauma in schools, increase the tax on e-cigarettes to increase prevention efforts, and increasing the number of school nurses. We see and appreciate you as a champion for West Virginia's kids, Delegate Zukoff! 
Have an event to share? We'd love to add it to our website and promote in our newsletter.  And please save the date, the Health and Hunger Summit is scheduled for May 5, 2020 in Charleston. Come join the discussion about building bridges between health care and community resources. Click on the image to register. It's free and open to all health care professionals and community stakeholders. 
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