Democratic Women’s Caucus requests meeting with Governor to address foster care crisis

CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) – The Democratic Women’s Caucus in the West Virginia House of Delegates sent a letter to Governor Jim Justice yesterday requesting a meeting to discuss West Virginia’s growing foster and kinship care crisis.

“More children have been placed in foster care in this state than any other state in the nation per capita,” said Delegate Cindy Lavender-Bowe (D-Greenbrier), Chair of the Women’s Caucus. “There are 7,000 children in foster or kinship homes. This, of course, is directly proportional to the devastation the opioid epidemic has inflicted across our state.”

West Virginia’s number of children in foster and kinship care has increased by 67% since 2013, while the national trend has been closer to 11%. However, even with the rising numbers, Child Protective Services (CPS) remains woefully understaffed. The Department of Health and Human Resources reported during the December interim meetings that there are 239 CPS worker vacancies.

“Foster and kinship families wait for months to be properly processed to get paid to support, feed and obtain childcare,” said Delegate Lisa Zukoff (D-Marshall). “Children taken from their homes often come with just the clothes on their back. CPS uses antiquated paper vouchers to provide funding to help meet the child’s immediate needs of clothing and personal items. We have received reports of the vouchers not being accepted because the state is behind paying the vendors or the store employees aren’t trained to accept the paper vouchers. We must do better for our WV children.”

Additional members of the Democratic Women’s Caucus are Delegate Sammi Brown (D-Jefferson), Delegate Amanda Estep-Burton (D-Kanawha), Delegate Barbara Fleischauer (D-Monongalia), Delegate Linda Longstreth (D-Marion), Delegate Margaret Staggers (D-Fayette) and Delegate Danielle Walker (D-Monongalia).

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