August 14, 2014

Manchin and Rockefeller Announce Funding to Launch Childhood Development Project in Kanawha County

Project LAUNCH will coordinate existing efforts to identify problems and promote overall wellness of local children and families

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller announced $722,800 to establish Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health) in Kanawha County, specifically in Charleston’s West Side. The program will coordinate the efforts of existing early childhood programs, identify problems related to mental illness and substance abuse and promote physical, emotional, cognitive, social and behavioral wellness in children from birth through age eight.

Specific strategies that will be addressed include: increased child development evaluations and activities, substance abuse and domestic violence screenings and mental health assessments, increased home visiting services, and family strengthening and parent skills training.

“Our children are our future, and it is our responsibility to make sure they grow up in a healthy and safe environment where they are provided with the resources to help them succeed,” Senator Manchin said. “The devastating impacts of substance abuse and mental illness will hinder the growth and success of our children if we do not come together and address and combat these problems by finding the necessary solutions. I am pleased that the West Side community will be using the Project LAUNCH program to help our families overcome these difficult obstacles and create a safe and healthy future for our children.”

“When working to improve the overall wellness of children in West Virginia, we must make sure that our efforts include access to comprehensive services that can address their mental health and the impact of factors like substance abuse,” said Rockefeller. “Project LAUNCH will use this proven formula to help at-risk kids in Kanawha County during early childhood, a time we know is critical to putting our youngest ones on a path to a brighter future and healthy start in life.”

“This grant will allow the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources to work in collaboration with national and state, public and private partners, including the Governor’s Early Childhood Advisory Council, to address substance abuse and its impact on children and families,” Karen L. Bowling, Cabinet Secretary said. “Through this pilot project, we will join the efforts of Rev. Matthew Watts to improve the health and well-being of not only children and families, but the entire community on the West Side of Charleston.”

The 5-year project will serve approximately 200 families within the first two years and increase the number to 500 by year five. In addition, the early childhood workforce within Kanawha County will have significant coaching, support and professional development to ensure high-quality services are provided.

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) Office of Maternal, Child and Family Health and Bureau for Behavioral Health Facilities will work with the state Early Childhood Advisory Council and Kanawha County Local Young Child Wellness Council to coordinate the programs. The funding is being awarded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Center for Mental Health Services.