The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest News

February 21, 2013

Senate panel holds first meeting on child poverty

CHARLESTON — Is West Virginia’s welfare system so attractive to young girls that it inspires them to have babies as a means of getting away from home and resettled in their own apartments?

Senate Finance Chairman Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, raised that question Wednesday on the first meeting of the newly-founded Select Committee on Children and Poverty.

Quoting school counselors, Prezioso told Margie Hale, executive director of West Virginia Kids Count, that he was informed of this tack by teenagers to get pregnant because the system sets them up in apartments.

“A lot of times, those apartments turn into places where teenagers meet and drugs are prevalent,” Prezioso said.

“That led me to believe we incentivize them to become pregnant to get out of their households and into apartments.”

Hale downplayed the observation, saying she thinks most pregnant teens are looking at their future.

“It’s a stretch for me to imagine a teen saying, ‘I’m going to have sex so I can have a baby,’” she said.

“If you don’t think that’s reality —” Prezioso began.

“I’m sure it’s true, but I don’t believe the solution is removing support,” Hale said.

In fact, she said, one solution is to work with young girls with an emphasis on sex education.

Sen. Larry Edgell, D-Wetzel, quoted another counselor as saying a girl came into his office pregnant for a third time. She was 13.

The pregnancies weren’t carried to term, he added.

Hale said the teen pregnancy rate has been a roller-coaster within the past dozen years, but the encouraging aspect is that West Virginia has been under the national average.

A chart provided by Kids Count showed that one in eight infants born in West Virginia has a teenage mother.

Senate Health and Human Resources Chairman Ron Stollings, D-Boone, a physician, said the committee needs to examine the impact of teenagers giving birth.

“We really need to look at that and pay close attention,” he said.

Children of unwed teen mothers have a staggering 78 percent dropout rate, compared to 9 percent for legitimate births, he said.

“That not only impacts society and children then, but potentially introduces into the pipeline a future of high costs for people who probably would not be paying taxes,” Stollings said.

Majority Leader John Unger, D-Berkeley, who persuaded the Senate on opening day to create the special committee, said it would not only meet once a week during the session, but also during the interims, and likely will hit the road to go outside Charleston.

In fact, one such meeting, as yet unscheduled, is being planned in the 10th District, represented by Sens. Bill Laird, D-Fayette, and Ron Miller, D-Greenbrier.

“The focus of this committee is not on special interest groups,” Unger said.

“The focus is on the children.”

Text Only
Latest News
  • W.Va. AG warns job seekers of fake job ad scams

    Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is warning West Virginians about fake job postings and other employment scams online.

    July 22, 2014

  • Ex-state agency worker pleads guilty to fraud

    A former case worker for the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources is facing up to 30 years in prison and a $500,000 fine after pleading guilty to fraud.

    July 22, 2014

  • Saints 1 Greenbrier ready for Saints

    The goal posts are up. The lines are on the field. The closets are stocked with Gatorade and the pads and helmets are hanging in the lockers. INCLUDES TOUT VIDEO.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Auto Fair winner Auto Fair attracts 15,000 visitors despite cool weather

    Although Mother Nature fast-forwarded to September temperatures throughout the weekend of the Friends of Coal Auto Fair, thousands of people came out to see the show and support the YMCA of Southern West Virginia.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • W.Va. health officials find clinic reused its needles

    Health officials on Monday advised patients of a West Virginia pain management clinic to be tested for blood-borne infectious diseases after an investigation found that needles had been reused.

    July 22, 2014

  • TWV raises $1,700 for Just For Kids

    Theatre West Virginia provides the southern part of the Mountain State an opportunity to see live, outdoor dramas, but this year, it’s giving back even more.

    July 22, 2014

  • WVDA expanding Hemlock Woolly Adelgid program

    Commissioner of Agriculture Walt Helmick has announced that the West Virginia Department of Agriculture's (WVDA) Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) Program has expanded to include all counties currently infested with HWA.

    July 21, 2014

  • Two in custody after allegedly beating Whitesville man

    Two men remained in Southern Regional Jail Monday morning after they allegedly beat up another man in his home in Whitesville. The West Virginia State Police would not release the name of the victim, who came to Raleigh General Hospital on his own.

    July 21, 2014

  • Impersonating an officer

    More details emerged Sunday from the Mercer County Sheriff Department’s investigation into a male subject who used a blue, bubble-style dash light to initiate a traffic stop of a female driver Friday night on Route 20 near Athens.

    July 21, 2014

  • 'Ghost murals' being restored across Appalachia

    Coca-Cola Consolidated is working across Appalachia to restore “ghost murals.”

    July 21, 2014