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