When Save the Children examined where in the U.S. kids are faring best and worst during the COVID pandemic, West Virginia had startling results. Although the state had relatively low rates of the disease, it had much more suffering among children and families, compared to other states.
We know that huge disparities exist along geographic, income and racial/ethnic lines. Across the nation, as well as in West Virginia, they are depriving children of the futures they deserve.
West Virginia's Childhood Equity Gap
Children who are poor, children who live in rural areas and children from communities of color appear to be faring worst through the pandemic. They are more likely to be food insecure, are disproportionately affected by the digital divide and are likely to experience the greatest learning loss. As a result, childhood equity gaps are likely to grow.
Just look at the data from Save the Children's 2021 U.S. Childhood Report:
- The digital divide is largest in West Virginia, where 40% of families do not always have internet available for school.
- 70% of families in West Virginia say their children in grades K-12 are spending less time on learning activities now compared to a typical school day before COVID.
- Rates of depression were also highest in West Virginia, where 68% to 70% – over two-thirds of families – reported feeling down, depressed or hopeless.
West Virginia's Devastating Floods of 2016
In June 2016, torrential storms dropped nearly 10 inches of rain across much of West Virginia, triggering unprecedented flash floods and sparking at least two tornados across the state. At least 23 people were killed and hundreds more were stranded.
When the flooding broke out, our expert staff in West Virginia sprung into action. We provided immediate support to children and families – distributing infant care supplies like blankets, cribs and diapers, plus cookware, dishes and hygiene items to families who had lost everything.
Save the Children partnered with award-winning actress, trustee and West Virginia native Jennifer Garner on a t-shirt campaign with Omaze, a charitable giving platform. The campaign helped benefit our vital work helping flood-affected children and their families.
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