Foster Care

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The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources has selected Aetna Better Health of West Virginia as the company to oversee their management of foster care in West Virginia.

A managed care model is essentially a privatized form of contracting out government services to a company in the private sector. In most states, including West Virginia, Medicaid is contracted out through a managed care model. 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, foster families are in high demand in many states. West Virginia has the highest rate in the country for the number of children who are removed from their homes and put into state care. There are a lot of families who are stepping up to take them in, but many say they feel unprepared for the looming task of taking care of the children who are placed in their homes. Roxy Todd reports.

Brittany Patterson / WVPB

Adversity isn’t new to Appalachia. We’ve faced boom and bust cycles for over a century. This episode of Inside Appalachia looks at some of those struggles and various efforts to curtail them. We’ll hear stories about West Virginia’s overwhelmed foster care system, to questions about what is killing off apple trees. And we’ll explore the research behind job creation programs ⁠— many of which are supported by federal grants. Do they bring long-term economic impact to Appalachia? 


Roxy Todd/ WVPB

Five out of every 100 babies born in West Virginia are born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, or NAS, the physical effects experienced during withdrawal from drugs. Many of these babies are put into foster care.

There are a lot of families stepping up to take them in, but many in West Virginia  — which has the highest rate of children taken into state care in the U.S. — say they feel unprepared for the task of taking care of the children with this group of conditions.


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As many American parents struggle with opioid addiction, the number of children put into foster care in the U.S. is steadily increasing. 

In West Virginia, the foster care system has been hit particularly hard; roughly 6,700 children in the state are in foster care, an increase of almost 70% in six years. 


Brynn Anderson / AP Photo

Updated on Tuesday, October 1, 2019 at 4:42 p.m.

A lawsuit against West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and officials with the state Department of Health and Human Resources alleges the government has violated the rights of nearly 6,800 children currently in the state’s foster care system.

Brynn Anderson / AP Photo

West Virginia's Health and Human Resources Department says 651 foster care children, mostly teen boys, have run away from group care settings or schools in less than a year.

Brittany Patterson / WVPB

 


Lawyers, lawmakers, about two dozen foster families, and others put their heads together Tuesday evening to discuss what’s working and what could be better inside West Virginia's foster care system. 

The forum is one of a series of listening sessions being hosted across the state by the non-profit child welfare organization, the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. 

The number of cases of children entering the foster care system due to parental drug use has more than doubled since 2000, according to research published this week in JAMA Pediatrics.

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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.

We're potentially just one vote away from having a budget sent to Gov. Jim Justice. It's been a week of early mornings, late evenings and the passage and failure of some notable legislation – and a call for a special session. We’ll bring you the latest in our weekly reporter roundtable.

In a session dominated by an omnibus education bill that ultimately died, lawmakers know officially now that they'll be back for a special session on education. We bring you the latest, and we also speak with the presidents of two state universities.

Assistant News Director Glynis Board leads a discussion with activist Robert Grossman of Morgantown on one of several criminal justice reform bills that have been considered this session. We also bring you the latest updates from the House of Delegates and Senate.

Emotions ran high in the House of Delegates late Wednesday evening as HB 2519 – the Campus Self Defense Act – came to the floor after a day of procedures that took it off and then back on the House’s active calendar. We recap the night’s action, and we take a special look at foster care.

It’s Day 50, Crossover Day, and the last day for Senate bills to get out of the Senate, and for House bills to get out of the House. This determines whether those bills are to survive this session. We recap the day’s action, and we also look at the latest on SB 1 – the “last dollar in” community and technical college bill.

The House of Delegates considered amendments to SB 451 – comprehensive education reform – all day, and they’ve continued their work into the evening. We break down the day’s proceedings, and we have a discussion with the Senate Health Committee over several healthcare bills that are moving through the legislative process.

Assistant News Director Glynis Board leads a discussion on the impacts and trauma the opioid epidemic has inflicted on West Virginia’s youth, and host Suzanne Higgins chats with Senior Statehouse Reporter Dave Mistich for an update on some of the day’s major stories.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, House Bill 2010 would revamp the state’s foster care system – transitioning it into a managed-care model. On Wednesday in the House of Delegates, lawmakers considered amendments to the bill, and it will be up for passage Thursday in the chamber. On last night’s episode of The Legislature Today, host Suzanne Higgins spoke with lead sponsor of the bill Del. Kayla Kessinger about some of the pushback the bill has received since it was introduced. We hear an excerpt from that interview.

It’s been a marathon day in the West Virginia Senate, as senators discuss SB 451 – the comprehensive education reform bill – as a “committee as a whole.” In the House, delegates considered amendments to HB 2010 – transitioning the state’s foster care system to a managed care model.

During the 2018 regular legislative session, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR) Cabinet Secretary Bill Crouch told legislators that our state was experiencing a “child welfare crisis.” The agency reports this year that emergency has only continued to grow. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention anticipate the opioid crisis alone will claim 1 million lives nation-wide by 2020 if no corrective action is taken, which is to say nothing of the havoc that would wreak on the quality of life for families and kids.

But professionals in the state passionate about child welfare are determined to change the trajectory.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Lawmakers argued over an idea to create a grant program to pay off tuition for community college students, and community members voiced concerns supporting and opposing a bill to alter medical care management for foster children in the state.


We take an in-depth look at House Bill 2010 – modifying the state’s foster care system by transitioning it into managed care. We’ll also bring you the latest action on Senate Bill 1 – the ‘last dollar in’ community and technical college bill, and we have a piece on volunteerism in West Virginia.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, during this past weekend, a horrific fire in Clay County claimed the lives of four foster children. It put the spotlight on a child welfare system in crisis. West Virginia lawmakers have been working throughout interim session to address the significant needs of the state's foster care system. Now, they bring that work into the regular state Legislative session. Glynis Board brings us a closer look at the crisis from the front lines.

Over the weekend, a horrific fire in Clay County claimed the lives of four foster children. It's put an intense and more immediate spotlight on a child welfare system in crisis. Lawmakers have been working throughout interim sessions on addressing the significant needs of the state's foster care system, and now they bring that work into the regular session.

Last year on Inside Appalachia we aired an episode about Grandparents raising grandchildren. Our newsroom just won a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for this series, so today, we’re listening back to this important story.  

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On this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia, we’ll learn more about how children are being affected by the opioid epidemic and what’s being done to help them. 


On The Legislature Today, host Andrea Lannom talks with House Finance Committee Chairman Delegate Eric Nelson and Senate Majority Leader Ryan Ferns on the current budget situation in West Virginia – where we are now and where we’re headed.

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Throughout the Ohio Valley and West Virginia, thousands of children are in foster care -- and the opioid epidemic is sending thousands more to join them. In fact, in just the past year, West Virginia's foster care system alone saw an increase of 1,000 children entering care.

In 2016, West Virginia Public Broadcasting spoke with the Holbens, a former-foster family in Kearneysville, Jefferson County, to shed light on the struggles the opioid epidemic brings on foster care. We now check back in with that family and explore what lies ahead in combating this crisis.

Be sure to tune in for more on this subject during our nightly television program, The Legislature Today beginning January 11, 2018.

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

 


The start of the 2018 state Legislative session is only one month away. Lawmakers in the Eastern Panhandle met in Martinsburg for a Legislative Outlook Breakfast hosted by the Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce to discuss several issues they hope to tackle at the statehouse this year.

 

One focus is creating more ways to combat West Virginia’s opioid epidemic -- particularly how the crisis affects those in the state’s foster care system.

WVU Tech in Montgomery, West Virginia
WVU Tech

Some child advocates say a plan by a nonprofit group to convert a southern West Virginia campus into a college specifically for children transitioning out of the foster care system is not a good idea.

Tina Faber is based at West Virginia University in Morgantown and runs a state program called Mentoring with Oversight for Developing Independence with Foster Youth, or MODIFY.

She told the Charleston Gazette-Mail that it's very important for children in foster care to live a normal life and to be with peers who aren't foster children.

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