February 6, 2020


Huntington, W.Va. –The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) and Marshall University today unveiled the ReClaim West Virginia (ReClaimWV) Initiative, the WVDE’s comprehensive program designed to support schools, educators, school personnel, families and students affected by the substance misuse crisis in West Virginia. Attendees learned about the significant resources available to schools and educators who are facing the fallout from the opioid and substance misuse crisis. The announcement represents more than a year’s work building an infrastructure to support the mental health and social-emotional needs of the school community.

The opioid and substance misuse epidemic may be the single worst crisis impacting students in the state’s history. As a result, the face of education and teaching has changed. Today the public school system must not only meet the academic needs of children, but in many cases must meet their basic and social-emotional needs as well. Research is clear that students cannot learn when their foundational needs are not met, and the education system is often the only remaining comprehensive support system left in the community.

The issues our children are facing are far too complicated and too large for any one entity to address alone. As part of its comprehensive network of support, the WVDE has partnered with several agencies and organizations as part of ReClaimWV. Among the partners is Marshall University’s Autism Training Center which houses the West Virginia Behavior/Mental Health Technical Assistance Center (TAC). The TAC provides training and technical assistance based on national, research-driven models and allows resources to be dispersed around the state to address the needs of the school community. The WVDE created the TAC to ensure schools, regardless of their location, have access to professional behavior/mental health and trauma supports.

The TAC is able to provide technical assistance and resources in a timely manner to support West Virginia schools. In addition, through its various offerings, the TAC is also able to provide sustained support, covering both the immediate and the long-term needs of our schools. At the school level, educators are seeing a continual increase in mental health issues among students which are often reflected in adverse and disruptive behaviors. These trauma-related behaviors most often can be traced back to substance misuse in the home or within critical relationships that affect the child.

“Teachers are continuously reaching out for help and support in the classroom,” said State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steven Paine. “They are urgently requesting additional resources to meet the needs of their students. The hard work and thought that has gone into building this comprehensive support structure is a testament to the critical need and the commitment of the WVDE and its partners.”

“Marshall University is a proud ReClaimWV partner,” said Marshall University President Dr. Jerome Gilbert. “The role of our schools is critical, and our collective effort and expertise is required to make sure our students, educators, families and communities are properly supported. Marshall University and the WVDE, among our other partners, are committed to ensuring that resources and assistance are available.”

To learn more about ReClaimWV visit wvde.us/reclaimwv.