2010 Conference

Falling Through the Crack icon

Falling Through the Cracks
31st Annual WV Child Care Association Conference

Suicide; bullying; dropping out of school….these are some of the most critical issues facing the professionals who work with children and teens. These difficult issues inspired the theme, "Falling Through the Cracks - Prevention Strategies for Kids at Risk," for this year's West Virginia Child Care Association (WVCCA) Fall Conference that took place on October 28-29 at the Waterfront Place Hotel. The conference was organized in three tracks - environmental, emotional and physical - with experts in the field presenting on cutting edge topics that focus on prevention, detection and early intervention. The topics and speakers were selected based on preliminary results of an at-risk survey.

In early 2010, WVCCA conducted a state-wide survey of child-serving professionals about risk factors that impact West Virginia children. Teachers, counselors, probation officers, early childhood specialists, child care workers, and parents answered the survey - 440 respondents in all! Preliminary results were released at the conference.

Risk factors reported by over 70% of respondents that they and their organization deal with on a regular basis:
Learning, emotional, and behavioral problems - 76.8%
Abuse and neglect - 74.5%
Substance abuse - 72.7%
Poverty - 72.7%

Did you know that 96% of child-service professionals think at-risk youth behaviors could be prevented, for the most part, with intervention prior to the negative behavior manifesting? Respondents reported the biggest obstacles facing children in West Virginia are parental substance abuse, criminal behavior and psychopathology; poverty; youth substance abuse and mental health issues; lack of employment opportunities for youth.

Respondents believe parents (85.2%) and teachers (70.5%) are the most important people to train to respond to high risk behavior. Sixty-three percent of respondents report they would like community and business leaders to become more involved in preventing at-risk behavior. The question posed at the conference, "How can you engage your community?"

"Rather than reacting to problem behaviors, we are leading a culture shift that seeks to prevent problem behaviors or vulnerable situations before they occur," said Tricia Kingery, WVCCA Executive Director. "Through national research, state at-risk needs assessment and innovative thinking, WVCCA is striving to champion prevention strategies and resources that will comprehensively address various ways to successfully prevent at-risk behavior in youth," she continued.

In addition to hard-hitting themes, the conference featured speaker Ryan Mack, of Optimum Capital Management, Brooklyn, New York, who is nationally recognized for finding innovative ways to help at-risk youth by teaching the importance of financial literacy, education and leadership. He makes regular appearances on television networks such as CNN, CNBC, and BET discussing economic and social issues that impact American citizens and the future of our youth.

Hasan Davis, Deputy Commissioner of Operations at the Kentucky Juvenile Justice, served as the keynote on the second day of the conference. Mr. Davis drew upon the personal challenges of his childhood and his experiences helping youth in transition. Before JD behind his name stood for Juris Doctor (now an attorney), it was clear to many that he was ‘just' a Juvenile Delinquent. Mr. Davis shared some of his wisdom and gifts that some of the caring adults in his life provided on his journey to exchange one JD for another.

As part of the Annual Awards Luncheon, Delegate Barbara "Bobbie" Hatfield was presented with the prestigious Champion of Children Award for her heroic efforts to bring attention to the needs of children and families, specifically the needs of young children in foster care. Other awards included the following:

Support Staff Award:
Linda Pratt, Family Connections

Child Care Worker Award:
Michael Cypher
s, Stepping Stone Lena Clark, Golden Girl

Non-Agency Community Award:
West Virginia Nursing and Landscaping Association, Golden Girl
Cathy Nogay, Family Connections

Foster Care Family Award:
Steven and Tarita Boone, Try-Again Homes