PRINCETON, WV (WVNS) — Child Protect of Mercer County received a special visitor on Thursday, October 20, 2022.

United States Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia Will Thompson toured Child Protect and congratulated the organization on a three-year grant they received.

Thompson said he’s still seeing the same challenges he once saw when he was appointed.

“Drugs, drugs, and drugs, unfortunately. Southern West Virginia’s been ravaged and I don’t like to use the word opioid epidemic, it’s an addiction epidemic. The fact that we’re still seeing a lot of issues with that and we’re seeing a lot of families torn apart from it,” Thompson said.

Thompson said he plans to continue to fight to get drugs off the streets of Southern West Virginia and help families reunite and heal.

Shiloh Woodard, Executive Director of Child Protect Mercer County, said she’s seen a change in children who were referred to them.

She said back in 2013, they started seeing kids come in from being in drug-endangered homes and some of them even became users themselves.

This is where the Federal Opioid Affected Youth Grant comes in. Woodard said Child Protect received a $740,000 grant from the Department of Justice.

She said the money plans to go to numerous services they provide.

“It will fund an expansion of our trauma-based counseling services not only for opioid-affected youth, but also their protective caregivers as well as caregivers who have lost custody of their children as a result of drug endangerment or their own opioid abuse through our supervised visitation program,” Woodard said.