LEWISBURG, WV (WVNS) – Foster parents in West Virginia are struggling as Walmart is no longer accepting Foster Parent vouchers.

Foster parents in West Virginia receive a $300 voucher to make purchases such as clothes, diapers, car seats, or baby formula for their foster kids. But, with Walmart no longer accepting the vouchers, many foster parents just can’t afford to get the things they need there.

As of right now, the only stores in the state to accept those vouchers are JCPenney and Gabe’s. Gabe’s has 6 locations in the state. JCPenney has 8.

This means Jessica Smith, a foster parent from Greenbrier County, has to drive nearly an hour each way to Beckley, just to shop at a store that doesn’t sell diapers, formula, or many other things foster parents need.

“If you have new parents that are getting a newborn, or new parents that are getting a six-month-old in the middle of the night, who weren’t prepared, didn’t have bottles, binkies, all those things, those are easily accessible at Walmart right down the street,” Smith told 59News.

And Smith said it’s a huge issue, because many foster kids arrive at their foster parents’ house with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

One organization stepping up to help foster parents in Greenbrier county through this difficult time is the Children’s Home Society in Lewisburg.

They’ve opened their community closet to foster parents who need clothes, diapers, car seats or toys, as well as volunteering to shop for foster parents who don’t have the time.

“We want to help our families in any way that we can,” said Children’s Home Society’s Permanency Supervisor Mary Carr. “Actually I just spoke to a worker on the phone who said ‘I’m getting ready to head to the stores to see if I can find any formula,’ because one of our foster families is struggling to find the specific type of formula she needs.”

Senator Stephen Baldwin, who represents Greenbrier and four other local counties in the state senate, met with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources on Tuesday to try to find a solution to the voucher problem.

Baldwin says the DHHR did offer a solution to allow foster parents to shop at their local Walmart again, but he also says foster parents tell him it’s a system they’ve had trouble with in the past.

“They said they’ll either reimburse people, or if they’ll let them know in advance, they’ll purchase the items up front,” Senator Baldwin told 59News. “Now I’ve heard from foster families who’ve said, ‘that’s a great idea, but they don’t ever follow through with it,’ so I’m going to do my best to see that they follow through, or provide other options.”

Smith added if Baldwin and other lawmakers can ensure Walmart will be an option for foster parents again, it will be a game-changer for foster families all across the state.

“Walmart’s going to be the most convenient, just cause it’s easily accessible,” said Smith. “Even if we weren’t in Lewisburg, even if you were in Beckley, there’s a Walmart there, there’s a Walmart in MacArthur. Walmart’s going to be the easiest one for anybody to utilize the full extent of their voucher at.”