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Plein co-authors WV KIDS COUNT brief on children's issues

WV KIDS COUNT, in partnership with WVU Medicine Children’s and the WVU Rockefeller School of Public Policy and Politics, released the second in a series of six issue briefs on the well-being of children and families in West Virginia. This issue brief, “Accounting for Enrollment Success and Considering the Challenges Ahead for Children’s Health Insurance,” credits West Virginia for its Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) outreach and enrollment efforts.

The WV KIDS COUNT issue brief and parent's guide are unveiled by (from left to right) Tricia Kingery, WV KIDS COUNT director, Cheryl Jones, assistant vice president for WVU Medicine Children’s and a WV KIDS COUNT board member; and Christopher Plein, Ph.D., co-author of the issue brief and Eberly Family Professor for Outstanding Public Service at WVU. WV KIDS COUNT presentation

“West Virginia provides a model for other states to follow for outreach and enrollment,” Christopher Plein, Ph.D., co-author of the issue brief and Eberly Family Professor for Outstanding Public Service at WVU, said. 

West Virginia CHIP covers children up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level. The state also provides for 12-month continuous eligibility for Medicaid and CHIP, does not require a waiting period for enrollment, and extends coverage to low-income public employee families. 

The state’s integrated benefits eligibility determination system simultaneously checks for Medicaid, CHIP, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) eligibility. The state’s use of its SNAP beneficiary data system to reach out to potential Medicaid enrollees has been recognized as a best practice in studies of the Affordable Care Act experience.

“Our state has made tremendous strides in children’s insurance coverage, which is a great accomplishment,” Cheryl Jones, assistant vice president for WVU Medicine Children’s and a WV KIDS COUNT board member, said. “However, there are still many children who lack access to healthcare coverage, and we must address the challenges they face.”

While overall child well-being in West Virginia has improved in recent years, WV KIDS COUNT says current budget and economic issues combined with the state’s poor health profile present ongoing challenges.

“KIDS COUNT encourages everyone — legislators, public officials, child advocates, educators, parents, and the media — to take action on behalf of kids and families,” Tricia Kingery, executive director of WV KIDS COUNT, said. “We urge policymakers not to back away from targeted investments that help West Virginia’s children become healthier, more likely to complete high school, and better positioned to contribute to the state and national economy as adults. Together, we can make West Virginia a great place to be a kid.”  

WV KIDS COUNT establishes partnerships with organizations that are topic experts on key child and family issues to strengthen its voice. The partnership with WVU’s Rockefeller School of Public Policy and Politics was built on the belief that all children should have access to affordable, quality healthcare. This aligns with the work of the School’s namesake former U.S. Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, who pushed for the federal CHIP legislation 21 years ago.

Additional information is available at, which also contains the most recent national, state, and local data on hundreds of indicators of child well-being.