The income that a two-parent household can generate for children is also important, Smith said.
"One job used to be enough," Smith said. "In 1970, one job was $20 an hour and now one job is, depending on how you calculate it, somewhere between $8.50 and $15 an hour.
"One parent, one job might have done it 40 years ago," he said. "It doesn't now."
At one in four children in poverty in 2011, West Virginia had the 13th-highest poverty rate in the nation.
The annual cost of child poverty in West Virginia is $3.9 billion, according to the report.
Investing in children pays off, according to the report. For every dollar invested in early childhood development, $7 is saved by preventing crime, unemployment and severe health-care costs, the report states.
Recommendations for fixing child poverty will be presented to the Legislature at Kids and Families Day on Feb. 26 and at 12 community forums across the state.
Sen. John Unger, chairman of the Legislature's new select committee on child poverty, said solving childhood poverty would reduce prison overcrowding, lessen the state's substance abuse problem and improve student achievement.
"We continue to build prisons, reform education and try to find treatment for substance abuse, but if we continue to do what we've always done, we're going to get what we've always gotten. We've got to get to the root," Unger said while speaking during the Marriott symposium.
The select committee will meet weekly at the state Capitol and then host community forums throughout the state, Unger said.
The entire report is available here: http://www.wvpolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/ChildPoverty_2.19.131.pdf
Reach Lori Kersey at lori.ker...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.