The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) today entered into a partnership with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) by signing a Memorandum of Understanding to serve children with serious mental health conditions in the most integrated setting appropriate, by expanding community-based mental health services and reducing the number of children in residential mental health treatment facilities.
“In 2013, DHHR realized changes were needed to the state’s child welfare system and has been meeting with the DOJ for six years,” said Bill J. Crouch, DHHR Cabinet Secretary. “Under the leadership of Gov. Jim Justice, we believe through the development of Safe at Home wraparound services, as well as the implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act and the application for the waiver for Children with Serious Emotional Disorders, we will be able to serve the vulnerable children of our state in their home communities rather than through residential mental health treatment facilities.”
In 2013, West Virginia had one of the highest percentages of residential placement of children in the country. Based on the 2013 data and other indicators, DHHR applied for a federal IV-E Waiver to develop Safe at Home West Virginia, a demonstration project that allowed DHHR more flexibility in delivering services to children and their families using the National Wraparound Model, which focuses on in-home community-based services.
In April 2014, the DOJ began its investigation of West Virginia’s compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134) requiring that individuals with disabilities, including children with mental illness, receive supports and services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs.
In October 2015, DHHR’s Bureau for Children and Families began serving children ages 12-17 in their home communities through the launch of Safe at Home by providing wraparound services to children, family members, caregivers and foster parents to support them in developing and maintaining a stable and loving environment with the goal of children being safe, healthy and successful.
“I want to thank Assistant DOJ Attorney General Eric Dreiband and US Attorney Mike Stuart for getting intimately involved in these discussions and shepherding us to a resolution we could all agree upon. Both entities have the same end goal to ensure the safety and well-being of West Virginia’s children,” said Secretary Crouch.
West Virginia has reduced the percentage of children in residential care to 17% with the help of residential care providers. Secretary Crouch added, “West Virginia has a quality group of residential providers who are committed to caring for children in our state; they also share the same goal regarding our children.”
to read the settlement agreement.