MARTINSBURG, W.Va. – Department of Health and Human Resources West Virginia officials are meeting with agency staff across the state to address Berkeley County, a backup of juvenile cases and lack of caseworkers to handle them, a problem that persists maintains ongoing epidemic officers on local officials .
There have been six Child Protection Service crisis workers in the county since May, another person reported that they work here this week and another three are expected next week, said agency spokesman Allison Adler.
"In addition to this team, Child Protection Service staff from all over the state will be working there as early as next week and during the month of June," Adler wrote in an email.
The exact number of additional teams to be sent to Berkeley County which has not been completed, she said.
Linda Watts, who leads the Department of Children and Families Bureau, decided to temporarily reassign workers from elsewhere in the state to Berkeley County.
She stated that the immediate goal is to assist current social worker vacancies, a staff turnover problem that is often exacerbated in the West Virginia border counties.
"This plan was implemented as workers (Child Protection Service) who received similar work in border states with higher wages than West Virginia," she said.
Caseloads are also an issue, particularly when staff numbers are down, she said.
"The area also receives a large number of reports for assessment. As a result of many cases, families have to be referred to court, and children are placed in foster care or relatives," she said. "This combination of factors creates a backlog of work."
The Minister commended Berkeley County Solicitor, Catie Wilkes, to area officers for getting state action locally to adequately protect children, particularly because of the needs created by the ongoing opioid epidemic.
"The extra workers are urgently needed. We are in great difficulty here in relation to Child Protection Service workers," she said. "We have seen very dangerous circumstances that have not been addressed as quickly as possible because of the lack of workers."
The numbers tell the story, she said.
“I would like to say that the vast majority of referrals made in relation to abuse or neglect, in some way, deal with the opioid epidemic – whether it is using drugs or overdoses at home, or lack of care for children. child because of drug addiction issue, "she said.
He also said that the system would be lost and its ability to provide protection to other states and ultimately leave too many left behind.
"This is the biggest harm to our assets to the public – the children – because they have a large backlog of referrals," she said. “They must therefore try to report trials of abuse or neglect reports to look at first – and this cannot be done.
"We need extra boots on the ground to keep our children safe here."
Sen. John John Unger II, D-Berkeley / Jefferson, said additional resources are needed because "the number of cases in Berkeley County has just skyrocketed to the point where it is really necessary to restore and pull workers from places other. "
Unger is a co-founder of Recovery Recovery and Community Empowerment (GRaCE), a non-profit coach recovery training organization that has worked with hundreds of people since its establishment in late 2016.
The current situation reflects a community crisis that will not be resolved quickly, he said.
"This is a serious case that is so serious that we all need to be involved, not just the agency workers. It is our community, and we need to look at ways to help these children and families. crisis, "he said.
There are recent classes to train high school students as they "talk about this case and I don't know how to handle it."
"They don't know what to do," he said. "We must ensure that help is available."
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