West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) Cabinet Secretary Bill J. Crouch today announced 48 Child Protective Services (CPS) positions will be added across the state. This reallocation of positions is being made to help those counties with extremely high caseloads per case worker and is part of a comprehensive plan to shift resources within DHHR to improve child welfare services administered by DHHR’s Bureau for Children and Families.
According to Linda Watts, Acting Commissioner for DHHR’s Bureau for Children and Families, “CPS workers investigate reports of abuse and neglect of children, provide services to children and families in their home, place children in foster care if they are unsafe in their own homes, find permanent homes for children who cannot return to their own homes and provide services to children transitioning into adulthood while in foster care placement. Our CPS staff work very hard to make sure that every child in our care is safe and protected. CPS workers do not get enough credit for the challenging issues they face and the many hours they work.”
West Virginia has experienced a 34% increase in its CPS caseloads over the past three years.
The counties and regions with additional positions added include: Barbour/Preston/Taylor counties; Boone/Lincoln counties; Brooke/Ohio/Hancock counties; Calhoun/Gilmer/Wirt counties; Doddridge/Pleasants/Ritchie counties; Harrison County; Kanawha County; Logan County; Marion/Monongalia counties; McDowell County; Mercer County; Nicholas/Webster counties; Putnam/Mason counties; Raleigh County; Randolph/Tucker counties; and Wood County.
“Governor Jim Justice has made children and families a top priority and with the continued increase of West Virginia children entering the foster care system, there is a critical need for more CPS workers,” said Crouch. “The drug epidemic has impacted the children of West Virginia in unimaginable ways with 83% of CPS cases involving drugs. These new positions will not only support our most vulnerable population but will decrease caseloads for existing workers, who many times are our unsung heroes.”
According to Crouch, these changes involve no new funding and are being accomplished through the redistribution of resources totally within DHHR.