A $722,800 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, facilitated by U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller, both D-W.Va., will establish Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children's Health) on the west side of Charleston in Kanawha County.
The five-year pilot program is expected to coordinate efforts among existing early childhood programs, as well as identify problems related to mental illness and substance abuse. The program also expects to promote physical, emotional, cognitive, social and behavioral wellness from newborns through age eight.
“Our children are our future, and it is our responsibility to make sure they grow up in a healthy and safe environment where they are provided with the resources to help them succeed,” Manchin said in a news release.
Rockefeller said in a news release that any programs aimed at improving children's overall wellness must address mental health and substance abuse.
“Project LAUNCH will use this proven formula to help at-risk kids in Kanawha County during early childhood, a time we know is critical to putting our youngest ones on a path to a brighter future and healthy start in life,” he said.
The project expects to facilitate increased child development evaluations and activities, substance abuse and domestic violence screenings, mental health assessments, increased home visiting services and parent skills training.
West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Cabinet Secretary Karen Bowling said in a news release the DHHR Office of Maternal, Child and Family Health and Bureau for Behavioral Health Facilities will work with national, state, public and private partners, including the state Early Childhood Advisory Council and Kanawha County Local Young Child Wellness Council.
The project is expected to serve about 200 families during its first two years, and then increase to 500 families by its fifth year.