ROANOKE, W. Va. — During a statewide conference on foster care and children’s well-being, Senator Jay Rockefeller was honored by the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia and the Alliance for Children for his work in public policy advocating for services in foster care and promoting adoption.
The CHS presented the retiring senator with a “Champion for Children” medal.
Rockefeller said the acknowledgement should go to those who helped him.
“I’m not undeserving but I’m only deserving because I had so many wonderful people in my office and elsewhere here in West Virginia helping along the way,” he said. “People who get medals didn’t get them by themselves.”
From 1988-1991, he chaired the National Commission on Children. While serving in the position, the Child Tax Credit was created and the Earned Income Tax Credit was expanded. Together, it represented one of the largest anti-poverty initiatives in the country. After serving on the committee, he still lead efforts to enact policy focused on children. In 1997, he helped develop the Adoption and Safe Families Act, which doubled the number of adoptions after its enactment.
Rockefeller reflected back on his time working with the children of Emmons while serving in the VISTA program and how it inspired him to make childcare part of his life’s work.
“Almost everything I’ve done, all the votes I’ve made since then have been with those kids in Emmons in my mind,” he said. “It’s true. They’re my moral compass, they’re my passion. I still keep in touch with them.”
He also pontificated how it has become more difficult to get funding for childcare programs.
“It’s controversial. It’s hard to get votes. It should be the easiest thing in the world. You know everybody loves kids but when it comes to spending money on kids, Congress doesn’t like to do that, at least not Congress these days.”
The West Virginia Behavioral Health Providers Association also presented him with a plaque, thanking him for his work with the recent Excellence in Mental Health Act which was signed by the President in April and expands access to community mental health centers and aims to improve the quality of mental health care.
The tokens of gratitude were presented after a roundtable discussion on the topic of permanency for children in foster care as part the Alliance for Children Annual Meeting and Senior Leaders Conference at Stonewall Resort.