The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

March 10, 2014

Rockefeller reflects on 50 years of support for W.Va. families


— Meeting with advocates who are on the frontlines in supporting West Virginia families, Senator Jay Rockefeller said a lot has been accomplished in his 50 years of public service — but that there is more work to do, if all families in the state are to be given all possible chances to succeed.

“Moms, dads and grandparents all want to do the best they can to provide for their families,” Rockefeller said. “In West Virginia, this is what drives our men and women to work hard, day in and day out, and sometimes at more than one job, just so they can afford groceries, a roof overhead and a solid education for their children.

“Despite working long hours or tough jobs, sometimes the world seems to close in, and families get tripped up by challenges that are thrust upon them by chance. When that happens, we must pull our resources together — as neighbors, as a community, as a government — so we can give our hardest working families a hand up.”

During last week’s roundtable, many of the programs Rockefeller has championed are now part of a framework that supports working families here in West Virginia and nationwide. Some of the key initiatives that have defined the senator’s 50 year public service career include:

n The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which has provided health care for more than 8 million children nationwide;

n The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit, which he’s championed since chairing the National Commission on Children in the early 1990s and which puts more money back into working families’ pockets;

n Head Start, which provides early childhood education, nutrition, and health care for 7,500 children in West Virginia and sets kids on a path to success;

n Medicaid, which not only provides health care for nearly a half a million West Virginians, but also nearly 20,000 jobs in the state;

n Pell Grants and other programs that make college education more affordable. Higher education leads to better-paying jobs and a more rewarding life, and is among the best investments we can make.

Participants in Friday’s discussion included: Ted Boettner, executive director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy; Sabrina Shrader,