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Project Overview

On any given day, there are approximately 3,000 children in out-of-home care in West Virginia. More than 400 children are living in out-of-state care settings, away from their families and their communities. Many of these children are victims of abuse. Some have drug or alcohol problems. Others struggle with mental health issues that result in difficult behaviors. Judges and caseworkers make the decision to send children to foster care homes, institutional treatment centers and hospitals out of state.

This is costly for West Virginia in human and financial terms. Research has shown that children are more successful when they receive care close to their families and their communities. Each year, we spend more than $23 million to support out-of-state facilities. We are not only exporting our children, we are exporting our jobs.

The Worth Our Care Coalition was formed in 2004 as a result of growing concern about system issues adversely affecting children in West Virginia’s care. The Coalition represents an unprecedented diverse representation of more than 100 members from all sectors and it continues to grow daily. The management of the Worth Our Care project is directed by a Steering Team comprised of representative groups. The Coalition is working toward a public policy executive, legislative and judicial mandate, along with effective and strong leadership at the state level, in the belief that this leadership is critical to the development of a better system.

In 2005, the WV Legislature addressed this issue in the form of legislation (HB2334) that said, "The Legislature finds that the state’s current system of serving children… needing social, emotional and behavioral health services is fragmented. The existing categorical structure…discourages collaboration resulting in duplication of efforts and a waste of limited resources."