Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

January 22, 2014

Children’s Home Society celebrates new location

PRINCETON — Local supporters and a United States senator were present Tuesday when the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia celebrated the opening of its new quarters.

The society recently moved into its new home, the former location of the Princeton Public Library. It has been extensively renovated and now includes a community room and offices for its programs, said site manager Joanne M. Boileau.

“It’s been kind of a miracle of sorts,” Boileau said. Now the society has double the space of its former location and room to grow.

“If we had a meeting with more than 10 people, we had to go out into the community,” she recalled. “This is great. It was an idea we had to be sold on, but it didn’t take much.”

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., spoke as the celebration while visiting Mercer County to conduct town meetings in Princeton and Bluefield. After being introduced by Tish Chafin, chairperson of the Children’s Home Society board of directors, Manchin talked about how organizations like the society serve the state. One way to help children is to fulfill the “five promises.”

“Every child should have a loving, caring adult in their life,” Manchin said. “Second, every child should have a safe place.”

The loving adults are not always parents, and the safe place could not only be a home, but also a location like a church or after school program, he added.

Every child should also have a healthy start. This means not only feeding children, but showing them health skills such as good nutrition, Manchin said. Next, every child should be taught a marketable skill.

Finally, every child should be able to grow into a loving, caring adult who gives something back, Manchin said.

Manchin recalled a childhood in which he had unconditional love and saw people like his grandfather provide groceries to coal miner widows in the days when government programs did not exist. He also described a trend he sees across the state: 90 percent of people polled saying that recipients of government aid should be tested for drugs.

“There are an awful lot of programs throughout this state and there are a lot of people dependent on these programs,” Manchin said.

One issue that has to be considered is what to do with children who must be removed from homes where drug abuse is a problem. One goal would be to help the parents become responsible adults again through programs such as drug courts; this would include changing sentencing guidelines. Other options must be considered, too.

“Are we going to have a smooth adoption cycle so we can get that child into a caring, loving home when we know we can’t send them back to the biological home?” Manchin said.

Having better reimbursement for families that are willing to adopt children would be one solution to consider, he said. Societies such as the Children’s Home Society could step to the front and, with their credibility, get political support for necessary change.

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