St. Albans, WV mother says more flexibility needed in voucher pr - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

St. Albans, WV mother says more flexibility needed in voucher program

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CHARLESTON, WV -

Each year the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services distributes clothing vouchers to over 100,000 students. Their parents must meet certain income guidelines and meet the deadlines. But some parents say the restrictions on the vouchers keep them from making the most of the money.

Tammy May visits the Goodwill store in Charleston, WV to look for clothes for her granddaughter. She can get a buggy full on a budget.

"It doesn't matter where the clothes come from as long as we like them and they fit," May said.

Goodwill is one of several stores in West Virginia that accepts the state's clothing vouchers.

"They should be able to get their shoes here and jeans and there are even back packs here," May said.

Parents say there are some challenges to using the vouchers because they can't easily shop around for the best deals.

According to a statement from the WV DHHR, families with one eligible child will receive two $100 vouchers. Families with 2 or more eligible children will receive a $200 voucher for each eligible child. The $200 voucher does not have to be used for an individual child. It may be used for any of the eligible children in the family. The entire voucher must be redeemed at the same store. That means no change is provided for the portion of the voucher that isn't used.

Parents can also use the vouchers to purchase material and other supplies to make children's clothing on their own.

Amber Curry's family just barely missed the qualifying income for help in 2013. She applied again this month for help for her two sons. She said she would like to see more flexibility when it comes to using the money available.

"I mean especially if you go to Marshall's where they have nice clothes for kids and decent prices you can get more for the money," Curry described. "But they don't always have shoes."

She said she often ends up buying her children's shoes out of pocket.

Students in kindergarten through 12th grade are eligible for the program if their parents meet the income guidelines.

The deadline to apply is July 31. Caseworkers have 30 days to process the applications after they are received.