Online dashboard provides more information on care for 6,654 foster children

West Virginia has launched an online dashboard to better understand the status of the state’s 6,654 children in foster care.

The new site also uses charts and graphs to convey information such as where foster children are typically placed, their age range, number of out-of-state placements and locations, as well as the status of child protection posts.

Initially, the scorecard was part of a broad foster care bill that was considered by the state legislature earlier this year. This bill ultimately did not pass, but Governor Jim Justice’s administration went ahead with this version.

“We try to provide this information so that people have a better idea of ​​what we are doing in terms of our child welfare system,” said Bill Crouch, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services on “Talkline” from MetroNews.

“It really is a snapshot in time, and we will be updating that snapshot monthly not only for children in DHHR care, broken down by county and district, but also out-of-state placements and labor information.”

Secretary Bill Crouch

During a statewide briefing earlier this week, Crouch acknowledged that the scorecard may not be exactly what lawmakers first described. But he hopes it will be useful.

“Certainly we were working with the Legislative Assembly during the session on legislation to create a scorecard. The appearance of any pushback was likely related to what was on the dashboard, what was on offer. Child protection is a tough and challenging issue for a variety of reasons, one of which is the privacy of these children,” Crouch said.

“We’ve created a dashboard that’s probably not going to satisfy everyone. What ended up in the bill was very comprehensive, and we may come to that point with a lot of information. We will come to this point with a lot of information.

Lisa Zukoff

Delegate Lisa Zukoff, D-Marshall, said the scorecard is off to a good start.

“I’m really pleased that they put this together so quickly after the session,” said Zukoff, who was one of the most vocal defenders of his creation. “That’s obviously not all we want it to be, but the point is that the governor and the secretary say it’s a work in progress, so I want to take their word for it.”

Zukoff said she likes that much of the dashboard information can be organized by county.

But there’s more she’d like to see included: more definitions for users not immediately familiar with the terms, data by race as well as age and gender groups, general reasons for entering the foster care system, retention trends for child welfare workers and a more interactive element to help connect foster children to the most appropriate resources.

“One of the things we thought of in the Legislative Assembly, being interactive, would help us find foster families for children coming into the system who might have more specific needs.

“You know, maybe a child of a specific race would feel comfortable going with someone of that specific race. Are there any certified homestays available for groups of specific age groups in a county? Are there certified foster families who can take in children with special needs? Maybe they have specific medical conditions; they have a feeding tube, for example , or they have specific medical issues – and maybe there are foster families trained there to do that.



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