ROMNEY, W.Va. — Child care givers at the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind fear they could lose their job when new education requirements go into effect in July 2015. Earlier this week, more than a dozen students at the schools walked out of class and picketed, holding signs demanding they be allowed to keep their care takers.

“They are their moms and pops when they are there at school. They’re the ones that meet them when school is over. They’re the ones that hold their hands when there are problems. They’re the ones that soothe their hurt. They’re the ones that put them to bed at night, be sure they’ve eaten enough, be sure they’re safe,” explained Anita Mitter, with the West Virginia Education Association, the union that represents the approximately 30 caretakers at the schools.

Earlier this year, the state Board of Education approved a plan that requires the child care givers to get an associates degree as a residential care specialist in order to keep their jobs. Mitter said there’s a lot of concern about the new requirements.

“We want to give these folks, that have all this experience, to be given priority for these jobs. Second, we don’t see the reason for the (associates] degree but most people are willing to go to college but they want to be given longer than three years. Third is the cost. We need some help with the cost,” stressed Mitter.

The caretakers have staged protests before. However, Mitter stressed, they did not encourage the students, who held their own rally outside the school.

“We have said we do not want the students involved. However, we know that they did their own picketing the other day,” said Mitter. “We appreciate their support but we have not encouraged that in any way!”

Mitter stressed the caretakers aren’t against getting a college degree, becoming more informed about the field they’re in. However, she said, an associates degree is not necessary, too pricey and in some cases, it will be difficult for staff to settle into the courses. That’s because some of the care givers don’t’ have degrees, others haven’t been in school for a long time.

“They understand what these kids need. An (associate’s) degree is not going to give them that kind of compassion and caring and their love that they currently have,” according to Mitter.

Members of the state Board of Education have said the goal is not to get rid of the current caregivers, but rather give them more tools to help the students they care for.

MetroNews put in a call to Lynn Boyer, head of the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind, but the call was not immediately returned.

bubble graphic


bubble graphic


  • Hampshire resident

    10 kids were there.
    How is that more than a dozen?

  • adamaparachute

    What's not in this story is the employees get a raise with the commitment to attain the degree that covers the cost of classes at Eastern Community and Technical. There is plenty of giving going on by the Admin of School and it looks to me like not much from the other side. "We don't need any additional education" or "We can't do it because we haven't been in school for a long time" is not the right attitude if you are going to be working with children, especially ones that face additional challenges with disabilities.

    • northforkfisher

      I glad to hear what you said and thank you for all the missing info. I wish they would write everything and not just some.

    • Debra


    • Zudo

      Well said, I understand thier fear as that attiude won't fair well if they have to move to private sector jobs.

  • northforkfisher

    I believe if they are required to get a degree, then the state should 1 pay for the degree, 2 they should give the employees a pay raise, and for those who don't have time allow them so much time a day to do so.
    Being that this is in the Eastern Panhandle, Eastern Community College so be the one to offer them the course. They could teach it on line and at their satellite centers.

  • Sunshine

    I agree with the administration's decision to require the associates degree. It's a win win for both the students AND the child care workers. It means a huge raise and the students will ultimately benefit the most!

  • Debra

    As a former alum of the school who now holds a degree in social work, I agree with this decision. You are talking about dealing with children, many of them with multiple disabilities. An associates degree on requires 60 classroom hours. Maybe there could be a compromise on the length of time necessary to complete the degree.

  • Diana

    I have to agree, when I started work degrees were not required. Now they are and the new hires are having trouble adjusting to the work load and requirements. A degree does not necessarily make a good employee; they also need compassion, common sense and a desire to work.

  • a concerned educator

    I believe that it is unfair to require individuals who are already employed to go back and get a degree. I can see if they school stated that all NEW workers must meet this requirement but not ones who are currently employed. Current employees need to be grandfathered in. Going to college may also be a financial burden for these individuals, as well as a time constraint.

  • WhgFeeling

    There are many wonderful people working at this school. If they are required to obtain the education AFTER they have been hired then the state BOE should pay the bill.