DHHR: ‘Overwhelming’ number of children in out-of-home placement in Upshur County

BUCKHANNON – There are currently 78 children in out-of-home placement in Upshur County.

The Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur invited Sarah Crum, Child Protective Services Supervisor with the West Virginia’s Department of Health and Human Resources, to talk about the foster care system in Upshur County and what they may need during Rotary’s Sept. 15 meeting.

“One of the things I was asked to talk about is how many children we have in care in Upshur County, what the needs are in Upshur County and what the needs are in general,” Crum said. “Right now, we have 78 children in out-of-home placement just from Upshur County.”

She said that is an overwhelming number for a county the size of Upshur, and some children are placed with relatives, foster homes and other facilities, while some children from Upshur are in out-of-state placements.

“We’re grouped together as a district right now, which is Lewis, Upshur and Braxton counties,” Crum said. “Out of those three counties, we have the highest referral numbers in Upshur County, and we have the highest rate of removal in Upshur County out of those three counties.”

She said they don’t need backpacks anymore, but they do need necessities such as clothing, socks, underwear and diapers.

“We need a couple of outfits in boys’ and girls’ clothes in all sizes, all the way from newborn up to adults,” Crum said. “We need socks, we need underwear and we always need toiletries like shampoo and deodorant. What I would ask is that you put the outfits in a big Ziploc bag or something. We have a lot of bookbags because at one point, people started donating those, and people donated a lot of empty bookbags.”

She said donated clothes may be put in the bookbags they already have and given to the foster family, so they don’t have to worry about buying clothes right after a new child is placed with them.

“I know from firsthand experience when you’re getting new placements, the last thing you want to have to do is leave and go to Walmart within 20 minutes, so it really is beneficial if we can get those out to foster families,” Crum said.

Crum said the DHHR is also undergoing new training because of a legislation change called the Safe Families Act.

“We are being trained on our new federal mandates,” she said. “There will be federal money allocated on preventative measures instead of just reactionary measures before we have children in care before the federal dollars started kicking. The federal government has decided that we need to be proactive and we need to be offering services to people that would hopefully prevent removal and for the DHHR, CPS specifically to be involved.”

For more information about how to donate to foster parents, call the DHHR’s field office in Upshur County at 304-473-4230 or click here.

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