Drug abuse epidemic affecting children

Five million dollars seems a very reasonable price to pay to expand an initiative that deals with what may be the most critical problem facing public schools. It is the fact many children lack effective support systems.

That always has been a concern. Too many parents — the fundamental support system for a child — are not active participants in the educational process. Some are positively counterproductive in that regard.

Devastation wrought by the drug abuse epidemic has made the situation must worse for many West Virginia children.

State first lady Cathy Justice knows of a way to help. It has been tested and proven effective in her home community, Greenbrier County.

It is a national initiative called Communities in Schools, and it began in Greenbrier County in 2004. Since then, it has expanded to a few schools in Berkeley, McDowell and Wyoming counties.

CIS is really a basic idea, revolving around former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s comment that “it takes a village” to raise a child. Through CIS, community resources are enlisted to help children who need better support systems. People working with schools mentor the youngsters. Others in communities, including businesses, help meet the students’ many needs.

Justice recently told the state Board of Education about how CIS works in Greenbrier County.

There, in 2017, the program had five site coordinators, someone working with after-school programs and a part-time case manager. Students from eight schools participated.

Greenbrier County students in CIS have a 100 percent high school graduation rate, Justice noted.

Wow. That alone is quite an achievement.

Justice’s husband, Gov. Jim Justice, has included $5 million for CIS in his proposed budget for the coming fiscal year. That would allow the program to expand to 15 or 20 new schools, Mrs. Justice said.

Let’s do it. Legislators should embrace the CIS initiative by approving that section of Justice’s budget. It would be a bargain if the program can help prevent some children from falling through the cracks — and sadly, there are lots of them.