West Virginia youth who need intensive non-family residential treatment have traditionally been served out of state. Now, the West Virginia Bureau for Children and Families will try and move some of those kids back in state to comply with new federal regulations.
In February, President Donald Trump signed the Family First Prevention Services Act, which included major reforms for child welfare. The legislation is essentially designed to help keep kids with their families or in a family-like setting.
Under the new legislation, states must take steps to reduce the use of group homes and other group care facilities. When children need residential services for “behavioral, intellectual, developmental and/or emotional” disorders, those must be provided in a child-care institution with no more than 25 children. The legislation lists a number of options the state must provide in order to qualify for federal funds including establishing Qualified Residential Treatment Programs.
According to a press release from the WV DHHR, the agency is seeking to establish these treatment programs for youth ages 12-21 by converting beds in existing residential treatment programs.
No new beds are to be created. Instead 100 beds – 25 in each of the bureaus four regions – are to be converted with the help of start-up funds from the state.
Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from Marshall Health and Charleston Area Medical Center.