West Virginia foster care reform bill moves ahead to State Senate

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — There are currently 7,000 children in West Virginia foster care, and the number has been growing rapidly.

Much of the problem stems from the opioid crisis with grandparents and other relatives raising the grandkids. The new bill would raise the family subsidy per foster child to $900 a month. Kids being raised in “kinship care” by relatives would see $300 more per month, and the number of Child Protective Services or CPS workers would be increased by 84 positions.

“I am glad that we were finally able to get some support for foster families, to child placement agencies so that they can further recruit and retain foster families,” said Del. Jeff Pack, Vice-Chair, (R) Raleigh – Health Committee.

“These are West Virginia children. So that money is necessary to make sure that these families are supported and these kids are supported in a way that encourages others to be involved in the foster care system and make sure they have the resources to take care of their needs,” said Del. Mick Bates, Minority Chair – (D) Raleigh – Finance Committee.

The House vote was 96 to 1 on foster care. Independent Delegate Marshall Wilson knows the foster care need well. He and his wife adopted two children from Peru, whose mom was a drug addict.

“But I tell you what, the people who cannot protect themselves, the people who cannot fend for themselves, it pretty much falls on us. And of course, children are the most vulnerable,” said Del. Marshall Wilson, (I) Berkeley.

In all, the changes will cost an estimated $16 million. A separate bill to raise the pay of Child Protective Services Workers is still in the works.

“The Foster Care Bill now comes here to the State Senate where they have only 17 days to get it done. And questions remain on the financing,” said Mark Curtis, 59News Chief Political Reporter.

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