West Virginia’s children are getting left behind. As governor, Ben Salango will create a Department of Childhood Advocacy to focus on the state’s 10,500 homeless students, 7,000 foster kids, special needs children, missing children, and children in the juvenile justice system.

The Department of Health and Human Resources is too big and bureaucratic to adequately serve the needs of West Virginia’s children. That’s why Ben Salango will establish a cabinet-level position, the Secretary of Childhood Advocacy, to focus on the well-being of Mountain State youth.

The Department of Childhood Advocacy would have the following responsibilities: 

  • Protect foster children. 

  • Reform Child Protective Services to be more responsive to children in danger.  

  • Make the adoption process easier and shorten the wait period to become a foster parent.  

  • Eliminate student homelessness by ensuring that school districts are applying for federal dollars to aid homeless students under available McKinney–Vento funding.

  • Support and expand summer work programs.  

  • Expand mental health services for students in West Virginia’s public schools. 

  • Assist family members, grandparents, and great-grandparents raising children.  

  • Increase support for special needs children. 

  • Strengthen in-home services for children and their families.  

  • Establish a hotline to assist anyone with questions about fostering or adoption.  

  • Provide funding for the Foster voucher system.  

  • Put a social worker in every school.

  • Provide 12-weeks of paid family leave for state employees welcoming the birth of a child, including adoptions and foster children.  

  • Instead of creating an Intermediate Appellate Court, Ben Salango would add circuit court judges who will focus solely on abuse and neglect proceedings.  


The Department of Childhood Advocacy will also lead child placement issues, and will ensure that each child is placed in a home that best meets their individual needs. 

Ben will work to expand childcare options across West Virginia to help single parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents raising children, and families of special needs children. 


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